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Executive Diversions
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 8, 2021 2 years ago

One-time CFO uses seashells to dip into her creative side

Ginny Dickinson’s massive collection of beach pieces has led to a new passion: making statues.    
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Executive: Ginny Dickinson. Co-founder and co-operator, with her husband, of RV-Boat Storage Works in Fort Myers, a new storage facility, scheduled to open in January, for boats, RVs, cars and enclosed trailers. On seven acres and with 211 units, the self-storage facility is a new business venture for Dickinson, 58. She was previously in finance, where she was CFO for Bonita Springs-based City Mattress and, before that, corporate controller for South Seas Resort Co. in Fort Myers and furniture chain Robb & Stucky.

‘No one ever says ‘oh wow, this financial report you did, how beautiful.’ But there’s really a big wow factor with this.’ Ginny Dickinson

Diversion: Dickinson makes seashell sculptures and statues. She’s made three so far, a seahorse, a sea turtle and, most recently, a manatee. The sculptures are made out hundreds of shells built around fiberglass molds and Bondic, a liquid plastic, and are hollow inside. She donated the seahorse and sea turtle for an auction, which raised over $10,000 for children’s health care charities. Her latest creation, Manatee Mer, is one of 16 manatee sculptures placed around Southwest Florida through March. After that, the statues will be auctioned off, with funds going to  Sanibel Community Housing and Resources, an affordable housing nonprofit. 

Just do it: When Dickinson turned 50, she came up with a list of 50 things she wanted to do she had never done before. Eyeing the dozens of boxes of shells in her garage, she turned her attention to that collection. “I have a ridiculous amount of seashells,” Dickinson says. “They kept piling up over 20 or 30 years. I wanted to do something with all the shells.”

Complicated formula: Dickinson had seen similar kinds of sculptures in other places, and thought it would be a perfect place for her collection. “I thought all I have to do is glue all these shells together,” she says. “That sounds easy.” Turns out, it isn’t. “Believe it or not there’s a lot of math involved,” she says.

Courtesy. Ginny Dickinson recently created Her Royal Majesty – Manatee Mer, a seashell sculpture. This is her third sculpture, and like the other two, will be auctioned for charity.

Over flow: Prep work includes measuring how long each side is, and mapping out every shell location, like an architect designing a building. “I’ve learned a lot as I’ve done this,” Dickinson says. She estimates she’s spent at least 200 hours building Manatee Mer, not including many hours spent collecting and boxing up shells.

Queen Mum: All three creations have a Mer in the name, which is French for sea and also a nickname for Dickinson’s mother. The Seahorse was Queen Mer; the sea turtle was Mer Princess; and then there’s Her Royal Majesty – Manatee Mer, which includes a royal cape, crown and crest on the cape. Dickinson’s mom is also an anglophile, who loves following the Royal family.

Jam session: Building Manatee Mer unknowingly became a coronavirus stress-relief activity for Dickinson. She worked on it after dinner, a few hours each night. “We’re not going to shows, we’re not going to live music, we’re not going to restaurants,” she says. “I put on my Trombone Shorty and I jam out. It’s a really great escape.”

Just rewards: One of the best moments Dickinson has had with the creations came after Mer Princess was placed on display at Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers. She went to the airport and watched all the people, children and adults, checking out her sculpture “Kids were trying to figure out what it was and how many shells there were,” she says. “It was a blast. No one ever says ‘oh wow, this financial report you did, how beautiful.’ But there’s really a big wow factor with this.”


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