Vermilion Arts Guild's Donna Ransom: Beauty & The Beach


Donna Ransom discovered Vermilion during an off-highway adventure between her home in Lakewood and a family cottage at Put-In-Bay. Living and traveling along Lake Erie made it easy to follow her joy of collecting beach glass, which is her medium in the Vermilion Arts Guild and a good representation of one of the most abundant and loved pastimes on Vermilion beaches.

Earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets and more, she calls her line “Beach Dreams.” Donna believes her creations are a subtle way to capture the summer and something you can wear or take with you, beautiful reminders of warm weather and vacation memories. “I walk along the beach in the morning looking for glass for my sanity,” she jokes. Eventually she had enough glass, so much that her family encouraged her to use it—or threatened her with throwing it out. “I started making jewelry and once all of my family and friends had pieces, I was not sure what else I could do with this growing pile of glass,” said Donna.

During a family vacation to New England, someone noticed her work and asked to buy a few pieces which quickly turned into dozens of sales. What began as a quiet project for Saturday mornings started turning into a signature business for Donna.

She is keenly aware of the how something as relaxing as combing a beach for glass can turn into a dogged pursuit, especially when it comes to rarer colors of sand and water polished glass like red, blues and oranges.

“I had kayaked to one of my favorite little spots along the lake shore, only reachable from the water,” she recalled. “I found a gigantic piece of red glass and if you find one piece you know there has to be more.”

Head down, oblivious to her surroundings, she concentrated on her search. When she finally looked up, she found the lake had kicked up with white caps. She quickly hopped into her kayak and paddled against the waves as hard as she could, inching her way home. “I was reminded of the humbling power of the lake despite the lovely pieces of glass it sends to beach goers,” she said. “It’s a force more powerful than us.”

Originally joining the Arts Guild as an avenue to sell her jewelry, Donna remains part of this Main Street program because of all the creative friends she has made. “Vermilion artists and people willing to share ideas and work together,” said Donna. “You meet people with such varied backgrounds and we inspire each other.”

Outside of the Arts Guild, Donna works as a counselor for students who cannot be serviced by the public-school system. She channels her creativity into other area like knitting and sewing. An avid kayaker, she makes it a weekly goal to catch about 5 sunrises and sunsets over the lake.

About her favorite artistic medium: “Beach glass is kind of like us,” she said. “Our rough edges get smoothed and tumbled by time, turning us into something better.”

Author: Dana Smith, Main Street Vermilion Intern


Marilou Suszko