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Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Ebbs and Flows of Life on the Beach

For the past few months, I have spent much less time on the beach than I could wish for. And I have spent much less time "playing with my glass," than I could wish for. In more ways than one.

Beach combing has always been a catharsis-- the beach and the sea have healing properties for me. Maybe that's not true for everyone... however, I start feeling a bit "disconnected" from the world, if I am away from the beach for too long.

Sarah (my honey) recently commented "You really should get a web site going, for your sea glass." We've talked about it, for a long time... a place to write about sea glass and its origins, and showcase some of my sea glass photography. I already have the site "reserved;" I already have this blog. But getting it done has become yet another thing I "wish I had the time for." Although I don't really do "New Year's Resolutions," definitely something I would like to get to, in 2010.

It seems that not only do the tides of the beach ebb and flow, often LIFE itself ebbs and flows. The "stuff of life" has been keeping me somewhat away from my photography and beach combing.

The aftermath of my mom dying (she lived overseas) in August has been time consuming. Making a living in a depressed economy has been time consuming. Dealing with some personal stuff in my life has been time consuming. Creating the "platform" for a better future has been time consuming.

Aside from "tides of life," the beach itself has been "ebbing and flowing," too. Mostly, it has been ebbing.

An article in the Seattle Times (which reaches close to a million people) back in May offered a lot of exposure to sea glass, but unfortunately gave all but "perfect directions" to a piece of beach previously only known to a limited number of hardy enthusiasts. Of course the beach is public property, and I recognize that-- but "over use" of ANY resource is never a good thing; regardless of whether we're talking about fishing, mining, or collecting sea glass.

On one day during this past summer, I counted ONE HUNDRED people on a stretch of beach where I used to perhaps see a single person, every few hours. Many were not "beach combing." They were there with buckets and rakes and shovels and coolers and "manpower," like they were trying to run a "strip mining" operation on the beach.

I take a small amount of solace in knowing that I was not the person who told the journalist where I usually beach comb. His wife beach combs there, too. I wonder if she's as disappointed as I am...

This all brings me to ponder the ebbs and flows of life, again-- and how "a secret" stops being "a secret" when EVERYone knows about it. That amazing hamburger joint around the corner gets featured in the Sunday paper, as a result of which their "amazing" hamburgers become "mediocre" because they have to assembly line mass produce them.

The landscape of the beach changes, too. I mostly beach comb at the base of tall escarpments made up of sediment from the last ice age. These (sometimes 300 feet high) slopes are largely made up of compressed sand and clay, and the erosion and slope collapses have been extensive during the past 12 months-- which means a layer of fresh 10,000-year old sand is laid on top of the material/rocks that contained much more recent material... including sea glass. People often think it is heavy storms that bring down the slopes-- more often it is heavy rains followed by a hard freeze. The water gets into the ground, near the top, expands when it subsequently freezes, and cracks start to form. Eventually, a chunk of compressed sand the size of an apartment building gives way and lands on the beach, changing the topography of everything as the sea and tides eat away at it.

As some wise person once observed: "The only constant in life is change."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sea Glass Auctions on eBay: Closing July 26th


New auctions with sea glass and pottery have just been listed on eBay!

Nice selection to choose from, with 65 lots available. You'll find a mixture of individual collector pieces, as well a jewelry and "bulk" lots for making glass mosaics.

Current auctions end on Sunday, July 26th, starting at 7:00pm US Pacific time/10:00pm Eastern time. All items are listed with a buy-it-now price, for those who'd like to purchase right away. The buy-it-now does go away, once the first bid has been placed.

Shown here: A very large and perfectly frosted piece of deep greenish aquamarine sea glass-- uncommonly deep color, and in super condition. Worthy of any collection, OR would make a beautiful pendant!

Click here to go look at the auctions!

I appreciate your interest!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Overexposure: When publicity is not a good thing

Sea glass is enjoying a wave of popularity, these days. A couple of decades ago, sea glass collectors were just "random scattered hobbyists" around the globe-- in recent we have become "organized." We have web sites, online communities for collectors and artists, we have an "Association," we even have "conventions." Frankly? I think it's wonderful! It doesn't get much better than when we can share and enjoy something with like-kind spirits.

However, with "organization" and "popularity" also come the troubles of "exposure," along with the dangers of OVER-exposure. It's difficult to pass a "value judgment" on this... but I liken it a bit to the process of a "small town" growing into a "city." Regardless of whether you think of it as GOOD or BAD, the fact remains that without some form of "careful management," you suddenly have traffic jams, urban sprawl; strip malls and the local hardware store is replaced with a Wal-Mart supercenter.

An article ran in the Seattle Times back in early May, and it provided a lot of exposure to sea glass. On the surface, a good thing, but unfortunately the article also gave pretty much "perfect directions" to a remote stretch of beach previously only known to a limited number of hardy enthusiasts.... willing to trudge 3-4 miles across gravel and rocks to get there. How things have changed. On Memorial Day, I counted ONE HUNDRED people on a stretch of beach where I used to see a single person, every few hours. That is, 100 people before I simply gave up and went home. Over July 4th weekend, a similar scenario... I didn't even get on the beach, after seeing how many cars were in the parking lot (and up the adjacent street).

The sad thing is that many of these folks were not "beach combing." They were "exhibit A" of the ugly trait of "human greed." They were there with buckets and rakes and shovels and coolers and "manpower," like they were trying to run a "strip mining" operation on the beach. They'd hike in with a cooler of soda and beer, and then hike out, using the cooler as a storage container.

I take a small amount of comfort in knowing that I was not the one who told the journalist where I usually beach comb. I take less comfort in carrying out a trash bag full of empty beer bottles and cans that littered the beach, a few days later.

Things come and go, in life-- and "a secret" stops being "a secret" when EVERYone knows about it. A friend (online) and fellow beach comber (and jewelry artist) stays pretty philosophical about it... pointing to the impermanence of things. She depends on sea glass to make her jewelry, with which the makes her living... and I admire her ability to stay neutral in the face of possibly using the primary raw material for her livelihood.

I've been around "collectible" hobbies most of my life, and I have seen the aftereffects of overexposure. The problem isn't about whether "people make money," it's about the level of overall enjoyment people derive from the hobby. Thousands flocked to stamp collecting when someone pointed out that stamps were "a good investments." But when it turned out the "big deal" was no longer there when everybody was involved, the newcomers left in disgust. However, during the "chaos years" many old-timers also left in disgust, when their once peaceful hobby had suddenly become chaotic and very expensive. The net result was that overexposure shrank the hobby, in the longer term..

And THAT is what worries me, when I look at sea glass collecting and its growing popularity.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Rising Popularity of Sea Glass

There is little doubt in my mind that sea glass is pretty popular. When I think of all the beach houses I have visited that had jars of seaglass in the window sills, and the people I've met while wandering the sea shore, I realize that collecting sea glass has wide appeal.

I've been collecting for 40+ years (since I was a little kid, basically) and I certainly realize that I am "not alone" out there, when I am beach combing. It surprises me sometimes, though, just HOW many people are familiar with sea glass.

I thought perhaps my perspective was skewed by my involvement in the growing sea glass "community" on the web. For example, I belong to a couple of online communities for sea glass enthusiasts, each with more than 1000 members, all interested in the same thing. Similarly, I have been a seller of sea glass on eBay for a few years... over the years, at least 500 different people have bought something from me.

That said, I increasingly notice sea glass in the news, and in the media. Whether it's a Travel Channel documentary, or snippets on late night talk shows, a surprising number of people seem familiar with sea glass. In fact, I was recently interviewed by a local writer putting together articles about beachcombing/sea glass for the Seattle Times Sunday magazine. The writer's wife is an avid collector and lives here in my town.

However, the degree to which awareness of sea glass is "in public view" really struck me recently, when I decided to add a sea glass "album" to my pictures I have posted on social networking site Facebook. Now, with the exception of maybe a handful, none of my Facebook friends know me in connection with ANYthing to do with beach combing and sea glass.

And yet?

As soon as I started posting photos of sea glass, I also started getting comments from all over the place... from people I've known for years and years... and whom, it turns out, also collect sea glass.

I think it's wonderful how this pastime/hobby of ours ties folks together, from all walks of life. If you haven't mentioned sea glass to your friends, you might be surprised at how many of them are also collectors....

Friday, January 02, 2009

North Beach Treasures Sea Glass Shop on Etsy

As of the 1st of January this year, I have started a new venture to share some of the sea glass I find with collectors and artists around the world.

Although Etsy is probably best knows as a place to find handmade goods of many different kinds, the site also has an area where people can sell supplies-- in this case, I have started a small online "shop" to offer jewelry quality sea glass from the Pacific Northwest.

This will include both "lots" with multiple pieces in specific colors and sizes, as well as individual pieces for jewelry and art-- or just for a sea glass collection.

I hope you'll take a moment to stop by my new show, to see what's there!

North Beach Treasures Sea Glass on Etsy

About Me

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1960 vintage Danish national now living in the Pacific Northwest... active in the global HSP community; active beach comber and sea glass collector; lifetime collector of postage stamps from Scandinavia; writer and consultant, primarily to the metaphysics and self-help industries, writer at OM Times magazine; artist who doodles on rocks; eBay & Etsy entrepreneur and studio and production assistant at Radio Nahmaste.

Diverse enough for you?