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Weaving dreams -- Island fisherman hones his skill by crafting beautiful dreamcatchers

November 9, 2016
Melissa Schneider - Editor (mschneider@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

What began as an exercise of honing a skill has turned into a beautiful craft for local islander Mike Webber. The lifelong shrimper and fisherman wanted to keep up on his net-rigging skill while not on the water, and what transpired was a fantastic collection of dreamcatchers.

Often while on the water, a fisherman's net may drag along the ocean floor, getting caught on coral and other sharp or tough surfaces that could tear the netting. The crew has to be diligent and good at properly remeshing the nets to continue making the catches it required.

"I started making dreamcatchers to keep my net-rigging skills tight, and ended up with a collection of them,"?Mike explained. "With 18 grandkids and six great-grandkids, anytime they come over, I give them one."

Article Photos

What began as an exercise of honing a skill has turned into a beautiful craft for local islander Mike Webber. The lifelong shrimper and fisherman wanted to keep up on his net-rigging skill while not on the water, and what transpired was a fantastic collection of dreamcatchers. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.

But Mike's lovely creations are available to more than just his family now. You can see many of them hanging throughout Booba's Bar, "somewhere on San Carlos Island," each available for purchase, each one unique and one of a kind.

"Each one really is unique I can't create one to be just like another,"?he said.

Mike gets creative with his dreamcatchers, and often crafts them by creating different framed shapes first, like the very popular fish (at right). He started about a year ago by using net twine, but as that was only available in two colors, he then moved to wool yarn, which comes in a rainbow of hues and sizes.

"I've really been having fun creating different patterns with different knots and colors making holiday-themed ones, like Halloween and Christmas and one of my favorites, 'The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.' I found out you can do a lot with a net, and have really been having fun with it."

Mike's wife, Mary, is also a creative soul who loves to sew, create stained glass and build nautical arrangements from seashells and other tropical treasures, adding lovely trinkets and gems to Mike's dreamcatchers, giving each one even more whimsy and uniqueness.

"I really love them," she said of her husband's crafts.

With Cherokee Indian in his blood, creating these dreamcatchers is not only a form of excercise to hone his skill, but a way of connecting with ancient ancestors who have practiced the weaving craft for generations.

Originally from Freeport, Tx., serving on the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, Mike was a frakking expert in the oil industry.

"One day, after an explosion on the rig, I ended up in the water, looked up and saw a fisherman, and realized he sleeps all day, fishes all night. I need a job like that," he laughed. "I gave up the oil field to go fishing, came to Southwest Florida on a shrimp boat 37 years ago and have been here ever since. The shrimping industry is a highly skilled trade, and it's a lost art."

Now he and Mary enjoy retired life with a waterside view of the island, crafting and creating as the gentle sea breeze passes through the many dreamcatchers along their back porch.

The couple looks forward to potentially setting up at local art shows or farmer's markets, but very thankful that Booba's has Mike's treasures on display at their establishment.

"Booba and Windy have given me a chance I otherwise wouldn't have had, and I'm very grateful for them," Mike said.

Prices vary from about $25 and up, and prices are negotiable, so stop by and see what one-of-a-kind dreamcatchers are available at the San Carlos Island tavern anytime; they're sure to change frequently.

"I've made about 60 so far, and trying to make one a day now,"?he said.

 
 

 

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