Art in View Artist Profile: Shannon Hoffman

Art in View Artist Profile: Shannon Hoffman

“I’ve always been drawn by light passing through color.” Lopez artist, Shannon Hoffman, gives a quick and definite response when asked why she enjoys creating with beach glass.

Having worked with stained glass for years before moving to Lopez from Iowa six years ago, Hoffman discovered the rich array of colors found in beach glass provided her with another way of exploring light and color.

“When I moved here, I didn’t have the means to continue working with stained glass, so when I found beach glass I was so happy. It’s like a gift from the water.”

Even earlier in her life, Hoffman’s artistic inclinations were powerful enough that they led her to pursue drafting as a career choice. “I was a young mother with two babies who needed a way to make a living, but I wanted to be doing something creative.”

Drawing on her drafting background, Hoffman began Beachcomber’s Consulting and Design. This allows her to apply her love of nature and creative problem solving to such areas as site plans and storm water management. “I’m really pleased with the success I’ve had with my art, but this is Lopez,” she says, smiling, readily acknowledging the island reality of embracing multiple jobs.

Her enchantment with beach glass led to learning the wire work necessary to begin creating necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. She also incorporates the glass in unique bookmarks, suncatchers, and wind chimes.

It was while combing the beaches of Lopez that Hoffman began collecting agates and other unusual rocks. “My greatest inspiration is the material itself—its special character. That’s what ultimately decides what I am going to create with the glass or rock or driftwood.”

Investing in the equipment necessary to work with rock, Hoffman found a “generous friend” who allowed her to set up the noisy tumbler in a pumphouse.

Creating with agates and other rocks is the most time-intensive work Hoffman produces. The polishing alone takes a total of four one week cycles.

“After the first week I can tell if the stone is one I want to continue working with. If it is, it stays. I’ll tell you, opening that tumbler at the end of the fourth cycle is like Christmas.”

Curiosity about what might be revealed inside some of the rocks Hoffman was finding prompted her to purchase a lapidary saw earlier this year. “I would pick up a rock and think, ‘I wonder what’s inside?’ If I find it interesting, I’ll cut it open, and let it speak to me on what to do with it.”

Her stacked-stone jewelry is a fine example of the meticulous eye for detail, texture, shape, and color which Hoffman possesses. It has also become one of her most popular items.

“Stacking the stones is a lot of fun but it’s more work than most people know. They think that it’s easy to find small round stones but to find ones that work together? That’s another matter.”

Hoffman has been a steady presence at the Farmer’s Market for the past six seasons and has seen, in addition to many new faces, numerous people returning who have become entranced by her work.

“I love it when I see someone wearing jewelry of mine and find out that it was given to them as a gift.”

Her work is also displayed at LoCo, Islandale, and Friday Harbor Trading Company. Later this year (October 21 through December 2), Hoffman’s work will be featured at the Lopez Center for the Community and the Arts.

“I do a lot of commission work and love doing it. Lots of times, people will bring me a piece of beach glass or a great-looking agate and ask me to make something with it.” Hoffman can be contacted regarding commissioned pieces at or found at the Farmer’s Market any Saturday.

A strong sense of harmony imbues Hoffman’s creations, whether it comes from finding just the right stones to stack for a pair of earrings or the right piece of driftwood for a suncatcher. It is the same harmony Hoffman finds daily in nature and manifests in her art, as well as the life on Lopez she has chosen to live.