By JEANNIE WILEY WOLF
CAREY — Instead of pennies from heaven, Diane Reile started finding beautiful glass marbles after her mother died in 2016.
“I was really close to Mom,” the Upper Sandusky woman said of her mother, Martha (Frankart) Kuhn.
“Mom was just amazing. She was the sweetest, kindest, most patient person I’ve ever known in my life, and I love her dearly.”
One day a few months after her mother’s death, Reile went out for a walk.
“I would go out and walk, up and down my road, which is where I’ve walked since I’ve lived there, for 29 years,” she said. “It’s a country road out in the middle of nowhere.”
Reile liked to slip on headphones and listen to some of her mom’s favorite big band music and the Andrews Sisters while she walked.
“I would just listen to it and usually have a cry and feel closer to her,” she said.
On this particular walk, Reile looked down and saw a large blue marble in a parking lot by her house.
“I saw it laying there and I thought, ‘What in the world?'” she recalled.
The marble was in perfect condition, without a single ding or crack.
Reile picked up her find and took it home. It was the first of many.
“I would just walk and sometimes I would find one, sometimes I wouldn’t find any,” she said. “I had a path I would take which was about half a mile, and then I’d come back. Sometimes I would walk it two or three times and not find one, and then I’d find one.”
In all, Reile found 88 marbles, their colors ranging from blue to green and white to speckled. Her mother was 88 years old when she died.
The final find was a small, hard rubber ball with an orange strip and the number “13” printed on it. Reile is the 13th and youngest child in her family.
After not having found anything for a while, that rubber ball was found in about the same spot as the first marble she found, in a parking lot beside her house.
“I just lost it when I found that,” she said.
It’s been about a year, and Reile hasn’t made any more discoveries.
“I look in new places, too,” she said, including the beaches in Florida where she and her husband, Randy, vacation.
Reile cherishes her marbles and felt drawn to do something meaningful with them.
“I had this dish of marbles and I thought, ‘What am I supposed to do with them? What does it mean,’ because it just bothered me,” she said. Reile tried to unravel a hidden meaning. She separated the marbles by color and looked for possible number patterns.
“I tried to make some kind of sense of what they meant, and I couldn’t come up with anything.”
She also tried to link the marbles to her mother.
“The only connection we could come up with is Mom always kept marbles in her teapot so when it rattled, she would know that the water was boiling,” Reile said.
They had hard water at the family home in New Riegel, which caused rust to build up in the teapot. Marbles, she explained, kept the pot clean.
“That’s the only thing I’ve been able to come up with relating marbles,” she said.
Then a cousin’s wife in Michigan started making jewelry and posted some pictures online. Reile said one of the pictures showed a necklace fashioned from a marble, so she sent six of the found marbles — one for each of her five sisters and one for herself — and had the woman make necklaces for each of them.
“When they came back, we all loved them and wore them faithfully. And I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could do something with them,'” Reile said.
She began watching YouTube videos for inspiration. But instead of using solder, she tried wrapping a marble with wire and added it to a strand of beads made of flowers from her mother’s funeral. After a while, she started making resin beads and incorporating dried flowers.
Last November, she started a business called Martha’s Marbles.
“I got this idea to make these wine bottle decorations, and that was really the start,” she said. “I just keep branching out. I’ve just gotten into a lot of things.”
A spare bedroom has become Reile’s workshop where she crafts suncatchers, necklaces, rings, earrings, anklets and bracelets from beach glass, shark teeth, wood, polished rocks, leather and even corks. She recently began stamping metal and also plans to try woodburning wooden pieces for jewelry.
“I have been on a journey since finding these marbles,” said Reile. “I’m very passionate about it. I just love it. I’m still doing marble things, but all of these other things, too.”
She keeps the remaining original marbles in a glass bowl that belonged to her mom. Reile said she’s found her creative side since finding them.
“I felt really lost for a long time and believe that my mom helped me find a new direction,” she said.
Her pieces can be purchased at Art Connections in Carey: A Cut Above and the White Shutter Winery in Upper Sandusky; and BMD Workbench and Frames Works, Tiffin. More information can be found on her Facebook page: Martha’s Marbles and More by Diane.