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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grading Sea Glass-- the long trip from beach to sale

Many of my friends think it's a lot of "fun" that beach comb and periodically sell some of the sea glass I find on the beach. A few suggest that they'd "like to do that, as well."

Can't say that I blame them... being able to make a few extra dollars from one of your hobbies is certainly a nice thing. But it's really not as simple as it looks. At least not if you take the "trade" seriously. In other words, there's more to it than walking around on the beach... and "BAM!" it's suddenly sold and you have money for a nice dinner.

A "choice" quality group of bright teal (or "lagoon blue-green") sea glass.
Did you know that every piece of sea glass is actually inspected FIVE TIMES before it goes out to a potential buyer?

First, I have a good look at everything when I pick it up on the beach. Anything with obvious chips or damage immediately gets tossed back.

Second, when I get home and sort the day's pickings by color-- and have better light-- more obviously defective pieces are rejected. They end up back in my backpack, and get tossed back in the ocean next time I am out.

Third, the "main" quality control step takes place when I select glass for a "lot" that will eventually end up on eBay or Etsy. Each color is sorted into "A" grade (about flawless), "B" grade (standard jewelry quality), "C" grade (minor faults, good for mosaics) and "D" grade (faulty rejects, going back to the beach).

Fourth, the glass gets a good looking over when I lay it out for photography. Sometimes I end up taking out a couple of flawed pieces and replacing them with something better.

Fifth, I look at each piece again when I have it out of the "lot envelope" to measure and describe it for sale. Although everything is pretty much "as it should be" by then, I do occasionally exchange a piece or two. This creates a bit of extra work because then I have to go back and take a new photo, reflecting the change.

The responses from aforementioned friends typically range from "wow, that sounds like a LOT of work!" to "why do you BOTHER?"

Well, it is a lot of work... and I "bother" because it is important to me to offer high consistency both in terms of color and quality. It's a system I used to build a couple of collectibles businesses... both of which have done well as a result of happy clients who always could feel confident that they would receive exactly what they were promised. When I decided to start selling sea glass, I saw no reason not to adapt the process to fit this particular "collectible."

In other news... I will probably be "out of the loop" for a while. My wife, Sarah, goes into hospital next week for surgery on her right shoulder. So I am going to "be her right arm" for a while... so I doubt there will be much time for sea glass, for a while.

So just in case, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mixed Blessings of Fall

The days are growing markedly shorter, as fall rolls ever closer. The shadows at mid-day are growing longer, and the light is growing more golden. Even the trees and plants are getting that slightly yellowed "late-in-the-year" look to them.

The Autumnal Equinox (when day and night are exactly the same length, and "Fall" officially begins) happens in a couple of days, on September 22nd.

In the microcosm that is beach combing around here, the arrival of fall is a mixed blessing.

On one hand, it means that the tides are slowly "turning," towards a point where the "good" low tides that make for the best beach combing opportunities... well, they will happen at "anti-social" hours, or in the middle of the night. More and more, there will be just a few-- very short-- worthwhile days to get out.

On the other hand, the stillness of summer is slowly giving way to breezier days. During the summers, the bays and straits along our beaches are often as calm as a mill pond. High winds are unusual, if not outright rare. The tides come in; the tides go out... barely stirring the "landscape" of the beach.

For a sea glass hunter, that means we've (basically) been picking through the same 4" top layer of sand and pebbles for months. And after a while-- in part thanks to the heavy influx of tourists during the summer-- there is almost nothing to be found; very little glass that's worthy of being brought home.

As fall arrives, the winds start to pick up again as the weather changes, and soon there will be autumn storms. This is good news! It means that the beach will get "churned up" again, and glass that has been previously hidden, a couple of feet down, will be brought to the surface.

Of course, nothing can overcome the "natural breakdown" that occurs all the time. Sea Glass is, for sure, a "Diminishing Resource," since we no longer throw things away randomly... and most of our containers are now made of plastic. With each year that passes, there is less and less glass to be found.

So far, 2012 has been a very "lean" year... but I remain hopeful that there will still be good things to be found, as fall rolls in!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

North Beach Treasures: Building A Sea Glass Web Site

For some months, I have been working on a major redesign of the North Beach Treasures web site.

I suppose everybody has their own impression of what a web site should be "about." For some, it's purely a selling tool, or a way to market their product or art. For others, it's about sharing a passion or interest. For yet another group, a web site is about offering something "of educational value."

Emerald Green sea glass heart
I started North Beach Treasures in 2007, without much of a real "purpose," aside from wanting to put a separate identity on my sea glass collecting hobby. I have a long "history" on the Internet, and what I am "known" for has nothing to do with sea glass... and I didn't want to confuse people who "know" me with inconsistent results when they are searching for information.

Back in March of this year, I decided I needed to "do something" with this web site I'd started. Up to that point, it had been little more than a "place holder" with some pretty pictures and links to the places where I have sea glass for sale. In taking this step, I also had to sit down and decide what I really wanted the web site to be ABOUT.

I love sea glass, and I love beach combing. These have been part of my life since I was six years old. I also love macro photography-- I started photographing "nature in close-up" when my dad gave me my first "real" camera for my 16th birthday. The stunning beauty, bright colors and endless variety of sea glass allows me to combine these two things I care deeply about.

This led me to realize that the primary thing I wanted the North Beach Treasures web site to be "about" is to share how I see sea glass, through photography. On some level, I also wanted to share my own personal beach combing "experience." Everything else felt somewhat secondary. Sure, I wanted the site to be "useful" and "educational." And certainly, I wanted to have a place where people could find sea glass I have for sale.

I found myself thinking a little more about the sea glass "experience," and what that meant. Much has been written by experts about the where's, how's, why's and rarities of sea glass-- in a general sense. I wanted the site to include an "in MY experience" approach, above and beyond the "it is generally accepted" approach many sea glass web sites use.

Amberina art glass as sea glass
Investigating what "my experience" meant actually caused the web site to be delayed several months. Most of the delay was due to my interest in assessing the rarity of different colors of sea glass, and "quantify" that rarity. This has already been done, once, by sea glass expert Richard LaMotte, in his excellent book "Pure Sea Glass" (If you don't own a copy, you should buy it... NOW!). Running the numbers on 40+ years of beach combing was a pretty laborious task-- but I was helped a lot by my photographic records and fondness for journaling.

My own conclusions about the relative rarity of sea glass resulted in fairly similar results to those reached by Richard LaMotte back when his book was published, in 2004, although there were some minor differences. My "color divisions" were also slightly different, and I included "regional variations" as part of my assessment of rarity. All in all it was an interesting and educational experience... and it allowed me to extensively "play with sea glass."

And so, the North Beach Treasures web site is now up and running. It is in some state of completeness-- although there is rarely such a thing as a "finished" web site; web sites are continuously "under development."

I hope you'll go have a look!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Simple Joy of "Finding Things"

People sometimes ask exactly how I got involved with finding little pieces of glass on the beach. After all, even though sea glass has become quite popular and well-known in recent years, it's still a somewhat "esoteric" pastime, compared to things like collecting sea shells or rocks.

I got to thinking about this question in some depth and reflected on the words I wrote in my June 1st update about my childhood and the long days of summer. Then I came to the conclusion that I have enjoyed "finding things" since I was quite small. Not just sea glass. And it seems to be one of those things in life for which which I evidently have a "natural talent" of sorts.

Although my interest in sea glass dates to my childhood, there were many other things I spent time "finding," when I was young-- and I still do.

Chanterelle mushrooms
During the summers of my childhood in Denmark, we'd often go spend the weekend at my aunt's house in the country. And one of the favorite outings (from late July and onwards) would be going to a nearby forest to find chanterelle mushrooms. For a five-year old, I evidently had a remarkable capacity to not only stay focused for several hours, but to actually find these golden treasures on the forest floor. It often mystified the adults who'd been collecting for 50 years, who would find fewer mushrooms than I.

One of my other hobbies-- which eventually turned into my "day job"-- is collecting stamps. Again... especially if you're trying to make money at it... this is a pastime that revolves around finding something. In the case of stamps, finding something other people may have overlooked.

I'm also really good at finding treasures at flea markets, finding lost keys, and even finding places in cities when other people are lost.

Unlike many sea glass enthusiasts-- who collect sea glass in order to use it in some way, or display it in some fashion-- I really don't inherently possess much talent in the realm of "creativity." Sure, I could probably "make something" with the sea glass I find, but odds are I'd need someone else's design to look at and "copy," in order to produce anything worthwhile. Whereas I really enjoy the aesthetics of creativity, I have approximately zero ability to visualize something original in my head, "out of thin air."

And so, I find sea glass for the simple joy of finding.

Which led me to the answer to something else people often ask me: "I just don't understand how you can not KEEP all your beautiful sea glass!?!?!" Truthfully? Once I've found it, held it and enjoyed that process-- along with the zen-like "meditation" that a 6-hour walk along the beach represents for me-- I have very little attachment to "owning" the glass. With very few exceptions, one piece of cobalt blue sea glass is pretty much like any other.

In fact, it actually fills me with more happiness to know that someone artistic is finding joy in creating something beautiful with my glass, rather than just having it sit in glass jars (pretty, I do admit!) collecting dust on my windowsill.

That said, I do have a fairly large personal collection of seaglass, assembled over the past 40+ years. And I still do add to that collection. But, on average, I probably "save" two pieces for every hundred I find-- which means there is quite a lot I end up selling on eBay and Etsy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why Would Someone BUY Sea Glass?

It's really quite a good question.

It was originally answered for me quite a few years ago, when I was still living in Texas and sea glass collecting was something I did "just because." At that time, it had never occurred to me that someone would actually BUY sea glass.

I found myself at a street arts fair, and came across a woman (from Kansas, as I recall) who was making jewelry with sea glass. As a beach comber, I found that both interesting and impressive... here was someone who'd figured out how to do something with sea glass, aside from putting it in jars or bowls.

I think I started our conversation with something lame like "Kansas seems like a long way from the ocean." As we started talking, I learned that she'd started making sea glass jewelry with some pieces she'd found while vacationing in the Virgin Islands-- but that all her current seaglass was purchased from a retired gentleman who liked walking his dog on the beach and picking up sea glass. This conversation took place back in the day before sea glass had become "really popular" and as much of a household word as it is today.

Her story certainly "made sense" to me. If you actually USED sea glass and you didn't live near the ocean, you'd have to buy it.

Some years later-- having move to the Washington state coast in the interim-- I had another conversation with a sea glass artist selling her wares at an outdoor arts fair. She "confessed" that even though she lived just a few miles from the coast, she actually bought most of the glass for her work.

"I'm just curious as to why you'd buy it when you can go out and find it for free?" I inquired.

She admitted that perhaps buying sea glass "wasn't for everyone," but she'd decided that she could leave her studio, spend an entire day on the beach and not necessarily find the pieces she'd need right then, or was interested in using. As she was trying to make a living from her jewelry, she felt the need to offer many pieces with "popular colors," and beach combing offered no guarantees that she'd find those-- in fact, they tended to be "less common."

She also pointed out that her time was not "free."

"This is my JOB, and I have to treat it as such," she explained, "In some ways I wish I didn't because I LOVE beach combing, but eight hours spent on the beach means eight hours not spent in the studio, which might mean $250 worth of jewelry I DIDN'T make. And going to the beach when I am dependent on what I find doesn't necessarily mean I'd find the right pieces to create $250 worth of new stuff. When I BUY the glass, I can usually find exactly what I want, buy it, and the guesswork and uncertainty is removed-- and there's no 'waste' so to speak."

As we continued talking, I also came to understand that she was trying to "differentiate" herself from other sea glass jewelry artists by focusing on beautiful and sometimes rare colors like aquamarine and pink. She explained that it could take her months or years to personally beach comb for a couple of dozen "jewelry worthy" pieces of pink sea glass she could buy from a "gatherer" for less than $100.00. Which, of course, made perfect sense to me.

The two "chance encounters" above are at the foundation of how I was originally motivated to start selling some of the sea glass I find. There are two things I really like about selling sea glass: One, I love beach combing but I have always felt slightly... sad... that all I ever "did" with my glass was "accumulate it." Selling to jewelers and artists gives the glass a "purpose," and I like that. Two, I like that I can be a participant in the creative process by helping people get "exactly what they want," to create items of beauty.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Long Days of Summer

What I have always liked about summer is the long days.

These days I live in a part of the world that has widely swinging tides, so now I don't just enjoy the long days, but I enjoy the fact that summer allows me to go to the beach pretty much any day I feel like it. June is a "beach friendly" month because the low tide points usually occur sometime during daylight hours, rather than in the middle of the night, as they do in January.

It makes me realize that I am more of a "spontaneous" beach comber than a "planned" one. Back in December, I would look at the tide charts and know that I only had a few short "windows of opportunity" on a few days out of the month... and my choice was "go then, or don't go at all."

Now that it is June, I could technically speaking go every day. Alas, my "old bones" wouldn't stand up to that... even if my heart and soul was in it.

When it comes to sea glass, May and June tend to be my months to "stock up for winter," a bit like a squirrel. Since I do sell some sea glass-- and many artists have their "big season" over the Christmas holidays-- I have to put a good part of the glass I find now "away," so I have something to offer, come November.

When I was a kid, I had the perseverance to walk on the beach and "focus" for many hours at a time... unlike many of my friends who would "grow bored" after ten minutes. Looking for sea glass, shells, interesting rocks, feathers and other things has been a lifelong interest of mine. If there is one I thing that has remained constant in my 50-odd years of life, it is a passion for "finding things." It's not a passion that's limited to the beach, however, as I look for everything from lost keys to four-leaf clovers to mushrooms in the forest to esoteric research items on the Internet. For my "day job" I sell rare old postage stamps to collectors. How do I come about them? I FIND them in large piles and boxes of unsorted common stamps.

The Aboriginal tribes in Australia believe that every single person in the world has at least ONE thing they are really good at. I was never much good at things like "football" or "building a career" or "public speaking." However, I AM really good at "finding things" and feel blessed that I have been able to craft a life that allows me to make a living (of sorts) from "finding" things.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The March of Technology

Some weeks ago, my camera took a dive.

No, not literally, as in fell off the table... but it did stop working, after some 30,000 images. I bought it about six years ago, specifically because it had excellent macro settings, allowing me to get within an inch of a piece of glass, and still keep focus.

The good folks at Fuji seem to think that the camera needs a new motherboard. Or some kind of circuit board. These days, nothing is "mechanical." That was another thing I liked about the camera: The zoom and focusing could be done manually.

Call me old-fashioned.

Hearing about the "tehnology" needed to fix my camera made me think about the "old days" of photography. Film. Anyone remember FILM?

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the digital age. I can't even begin to imagine the cost of shooting and processing 30,000 images on film. And I really like the fact that I can take pictures and scrap them, and redo them till I get the exact result I want.

Anyway, while my "good" camera is in the shop, I decided I should have a backup. A "Plan B," if you will. I make my living with a camera... well, at least, a camera is part of my living, and as an eBay seller of collectibles (and sea glass), I'm basically out of business when I don't have a camera. I became very aware of this, when my camera went in for repair... and I found myself stuck with using a scanner. Not good.

So now I am learning a new camera, with all its intricacies.

It is amazing how much technology-- and not just in computers-- has moved along in the course of just a few years. I bought my old camera in 2006, and it was state of the art, at the time.

In many ways it still is, given the price they still fetch, on the aftermarket.

Although the image quality on my new camera-- another Fuji-- is perhaps not as sharp as I would have expected, the gadgetry and add-ons are mindblowing. So is the automation... seems like the term "point and shoot" has reached new levels. You literally don't have to have a brain, nor know a thing about photography... in order to create good pictures. I'm not entirely sure whether or not I consider that a "good" thing.

Still, there's a learning curve. Macro photography of sea glass is not as easy as it looks... and often involves a process of "lying to the camera," in order to get the desired results. It took me several months to "get good" with the old camera.

The process of lying to the camera gets harder and harder, as these pieces of gear become more and more automated. There may be quite a few instances when the camera knows more about taking a good picture than I do... however, close-ups of sea glass is NOT one of those.

And so... that's what I am doing, at the moment... learning to overcome the automation, so I can take good pictures of sea glass.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Five Years

It occurred to me, earlier today, that it has been five years since I started this blog. Well, five years and a few days.

Although I have been a "blogger" since 1996 (blogs didn't actually exist until 1999, but I kept an online journal on a web site-- a LOT of work, without blogging software!), the North Beach Treasures blog was my first attempt at keeping a "micro niche" blog about an interest/hobby. The closest, otherwise, has been my stamp collecting blog-- but there are millions and millions of stamp collectors, and hundreds of thousands of different stamps to highlight and write about.

Not so with sea glass and beach combing.

I have found it challenging, because there's only so much to write about. I've learned that there are limitations, here. Once I've written ONE post about "red sea glass," that's pretty much it... and it makes no sense to write another. Only so much can be said about beach combing, in general.

Indeed, part of my motivation in originally starting this blog was to use it to announce when I had sea glass for sale, that jewelers and artists might be interested in. That said, I really didn't want the blog to be "sales oriented" in nature... but more collector/collecting oriented. Informative, rather than commercial.

I've learned that my fellow beach combers do enjoy looking at pictures of "recent finds." I can relate to that, as I also enjoy looking at other people's finds. So I have at least one kind of "subject matter" I can repeat over and over-- happy it also is a popular one!

I expect I would have more to write about, if I were an artisan or jeweler. But I only collect sea glass for the sake of "collecting sea glass." Selling some of it has become a nice "fringe benefit," and it makes me happy to know that my glass ends up being part of "items of beauty" that other people get to enjoy. That's a lot better (in my eyes) than just having it sit in jars on my window sill.

What's ahead? More of the above, I suppose. I do enjoy writing, and sharing things from my beach trips. For me, a large part of the joy of collecting (ANYthing!) involves the "social aspect" of connecting with others who have similar interests.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Odd Bits: Sea Glass Beads

When people think about sea glass, the idea that comes to mind is typically that some glass object-- let's say a bottle or storage jar-- broke and ended up in the ocean. With time-- and the abrasive effect of water, sand and rocks-- the sharp pieces of glass became the softly rounded and frosted gems we now call "sea glass."

Opaque yellow sea glass bead
However, not all sea glass started as "sharp broken shards of glass."

Today, I'll take a look at a type of sea glass that typically did NOT start as "broken glass," namely sea glass BEADS.

Beads-- as sea glass-- tend to be fairly rare. For one, beads are usually pretty small, so they can be hard to spot, when you are beach combing. In addition, since they are small, it doesn't take a whole lot of rough surf and being beaten against rocks before they completely wear away.

The good news about beads as sea glass is that when you DO find them, they are typically in "whole" condition-- this is not a shape that usually suffers a lot of breakage. Of course, that doesn't automatically mean that they can be used for jewelry, since most tend to have small rocks and grains of sand lodged in the original hole (see photos)-- and these can sometimes be impossible to dislodge, without breaking the bead.

Very rare squared bright green bead
How do beads become sea glass? Usually, they can only be found in places where there were trash dumps on the coast. Sea glass beads usually started as inexpensive glass jewelry that got thrown away when the string in a bracelet or necklace broke and it was too much hassle to fix it. The individual person's garbage made its way to the city/town dump by the seaside, and then ended up in the ocean... after which the process of it "becoming sea glass" is exactly the same as any other form of sea glass.

Most sea glass beads have very humble and "common" origins. A great "treasure" for a sea glass hunter would be to find a "sea glassed" antique trade bead, made in Venice... and perhaps used for trade in Africa or Asia. Since these can cost several dollars each from bead stores, they are very unlikely to have been discarded.

As stated above, sea glass beads are quite rare. And they are getting rarer, because they are one of the few kinds of "discarded glass" that was almost always processed through a trash dump-- and since trash is no longer thrown in the ocean as a means of disposal, there are really no more sea glass beads being created.

A rare deep turquoise bead
Relatively speaking, "color rarity" is completely different with sea glass beads, than with other forms of sea glass. If you think about it, the most common colors used for glass casual/costume jewelry are completely different from the most common colors used for glass, in general. In my personal collection, otherwise very rare red is actually the most common sea glass bead color. Green-- which is common "in general"-- is quite rare, when it comes to beads.

I say "relatively speaking," because no matter what color it may be, a sea glass bead is something I only find as maybe 1-in-5000 pieces of sea glass, overall. In the course of 40-odd years, I have only collected only maybe 25-30 whole beads, and at least half of them were tiny round opaque reds ("seed beads")-- some of which I almost didn't pick up at all, because I was thinking "no, that's just TOO small for anyone to care about."

As an interesting aside, I actually had several beads in my sea glass collection for years without knowing they were beads. I had collected them and decided they were just "a small piece of round glass with a grain of sand embedded at one end." Had I taken the time to hold them up to the light, I would have noticed they had a hole running all the way through them! I bet I am not the only sea glass collector who has had an experience like that.

Red sea glass bead. Note the sand in the hole.
There are no particular ways to find sea glass beads, when you are beach combing. The main thing to keep in mind is that these are so small they are often overlooked.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Remember to Look UP!

As much as I enjoy "finding things" on the beach, beach combing is really a form of meditation to me.

It's easy to get so focused on what's on the beach, and what I am finding, that I forget all about everything else... including the fact that I am there to "get some downtime in." I am by nature (no pun intended) a bit of a "nature nerd," and I have always found that being outdoors is one of the best ways for me to recharge my batteries, especially when life seems hectic and stressful.

It's also a simple truth that beach combing involves a lot of "looking down." After all, if we're to find stuff, we have to look at what's underfoot. The "danger" is that I tend to become so focused on "finding" that I forget to enjoy all the natural beauty around me... things I will only see when I look up. Not mention, of course, that there's the real danger of running onto an overhead branch from a fallen tree! I've done that. More than once.

So, today's "advice" to beach combers is this: Remember to look UP, from time to time.

Because I enjoy nature photography, I sometimes bring along my camera as a "reminder" to look up and see things other than sea glass. There is SO much beauty around us. It would be a shame to miss it all, just because we are always looking down!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sea Glass Auction: Ending March 11th

After a rather long absence, I'm pleased to announce that I am having my first sea glass auction in almost a year!

As always, this is an "eBay event," with a nice range of high quality and rare individual pieces of seaglass, as well as "lots" assembled with artists and jewelers in mind.

My specialty is very high quality rounded and well frosted sea glass, suited for jewelry making, or in what I'd call "collectible quality." I always return the sharp, chipped and "junky" pieces to the ocean, so they can be collected by future generations of sea glass enthusiasts.

I just finished posting a total of 50 different lots-- I like to post sea glass for auction in large batches like this, as it gives potential bidders a chance to save on shipping costs, when they purchase multiple items at the same time. Once the "base" shipping charge has been paid, each additional lot only adds 75 cents to your shipping cost.

Every lot is listed with a low opening bid-- but if you're not into the "auction format," you can also purchase items you like with the immediate "buy it now" option. Just a reminder: buy-it-now only remains available until someone places a bid-- after that, it becomes "bidding only."

You're more than welcome to "mix and match," meaning that you can buy some lots up front and then bid on others-- and you don't have to pay for anything until after the bidding part ends... again, so you can save on postage. A lot of people like to do this, as you can make sure to get the "must haves" immediately and then place bids on the "maybes" and take your chances that nobody places a higher bid. Of course, some people just enjoy auctions!

Bidding/buying is now OPEN, and the sales run till Sunday, March 11th, 2012 with closing times in the late evening. Here's the direct link:

Hopefully, you will find something of interest! Pictured here are a few highlights from the current selection.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Shards" of sea glass

You know, I don't like the term "shards."

The common lingo among sea glass collectors seems to be that we go out and find "shards" of sea glass. At the NASGA annual Sea Glass Festival, they give awards to the "Shard of the Year."

These are not "shards," of glass!
I have never liked that word, from the first time I heard another sea glass enthusiast use it.

"Shards," to me, is what you end up with after you drop a bottle on a tile floor: Lots of sharp angular pieces of glass that will cut your hands to shreds, unless you handle them with extreme care-- or kevlar glass gloves.

To call a beautiful, soft, rounded and frosted piece of sea glass a "shard," just seems very unkind to me-- it's far too "rough" a term, to describe such a beautiful gem-like object.

I am also a rock and mineral collector. In mineral collecting, the freshly broken stones/crystals from a mine are referred to as "rough." Anything that has been "worked," at all gets a new more "polished" name: cabochon, slab, sphere, cluster...

Sea glass HAS been worked-- even if it isn't by humans. The ocean has "polished" it. Even if it's a pretty boring  description, I'd rather refer to my sea glass as being "pieces," rather than "shards."

Just saying...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Winter Day on the Beach

In the wintertime, I take my beach combing opportunities when they come. As they say, "beggars can't be choosers," and during January the days with low tides during daylight hours are few and far between. Yesterday was one of those rare days, and it even turned out to be a fairly clear day-- although pretty "frosty."

Bright teal green
Now, to say that a day is "good" for beach combing during January had to be taken with a grain of salt. What it actually means is that I get to leave the house around 12:30, make a mad dash down the beach (about 3.5 miles/5.5km) while the tide is still quite high, in order to spend a couple of hours at my favorite beach combing spot... before it gets too dark and I have to make for home, again.

It's nice when these January outings happen to come on a clear day, as it affords me at least an extra 45 minutes of daylight. On a rainy day-- or even a day with heavy cloud cover-- it gets too dark to see what I am doing quite early. I know some people beach comb with a flashlight, but I have just never had much success with that.

It turned out to be a quite rewarding outing, even though I had my doubts, for a while.

The beach presents an ever-changing landscape, around here. Frequent storms and tides that fluctuate up to 12 feet between minimum and maximum means that rocks and sand constantly get moved around. On my walk out, I found myself having to traverse slippery soccer ball sized rocks, most of the way... and there was a thick layer of washed up seaweed in places-- the result of recent storms. Large rocks and seaweed are a combination that rarely bodes well, when your objective is to find sea glass.

Fortunately, as I got closer to one of the areas where I usually find some glass, some sandy patches started showing between the piles of large rocks. As the tide receded, a long thin line of sand and gravel stretched out before me... and I knew it was going to be a good day!

As most beach combers know, every day has it's own "character." Yesterday was a "lots of glass but few rarities" sort of day. Had I been interested in doing so, I could probably have picked up five pounds of clear and brown sea glass. Which, to most people's way of thinking (including mine!) is a LOT of sea glass. However-- aside from very unusual or perfect pieces-- I am really not very interested in the "common" colors, anymore.

Nugget of Amberina orange/red, as found yesterday
It was not until the very end of my day that a couple of lovely pieces found their way to me: A very BRIGHT and perfect nugget of red and orange "Amberina" glass-- a considerable rarity-- caught the dying rays of the sun and lit up like a little beacon. I tried to take a picture of it, but the effect was impossible to photograph. And just five minutes later, I found a beautiful nugget of vibrant blue-green glass (pictured at top)-- a shade of teal I very rarely come across.

And then it was time to head home, in the murk of a winter evening.

It felt good to be out there... and I felt pleased that this first outing of 2012 turned out as well as it did. I then paused to remind myself that as much as I enjoy finding sea glass, walking on the beach has always been "a meditation" for me. I'd still be "out there," even if there were no sea glass. However, the sea glass does offer a nice incentive!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

A New Year!

So, here we are. It's 2012-- a new year lies ahead. 

Some people believe this may be our last year on this planet, and that the world will end on December 21st, 2012, because the often talked about Mayan Calendar ends then. It seems to me that a segment of humankind has always been obsessed with "the end of days." Last time, it was the millennium, when people thought the world would collapse into chaos because computers at the time used a two-digit system (instead of four-digit) to register years. Of course, the world didn't end... a few systems powered themselves down, and were then restarted. Life continued, pretty much as it had been before.

I don't tend to get into "new year's resolutions" and the whole attendant circus. I think we end up placing too much emphasis on unrealistic goals ("this year I am going to lose 50lbs and run the Boston Marathon") and then we end up feeling bad about ourselves, because we failed. I'm all about creating and setting goals I can succeed at... not "wishful thinking."

My "wall of sea glass" in my new home office
Now that we are permanently moved into our new home, I have been focusing on organizing my home office in such a way I can spend less time "getting ready" to do things, and more time "doing" them. 

Most of my sea glass-- from many different unsorted buckets and bins-- has now made it into neatly organized plastic tubs where the glass is sorted by color, size, quality, shape and more. It may not be as visually pretty as glass jars on a windowsill... but it's imminently more practical, if someone contacts me and wants to know if I have "50 pieces of cobalt blue sea glass the size of a dime.

Sorting everything-- which remains an ongoing process, as there is still MUCH to be sorted-- has also allowed me to separate "my own collection" (of particularly nice/unusual pieces) from what I have come to think of as my duplicate stock (for sale). Being able to do this offered a certain sense of relief, as I came to realize that I am not really a "hoarder" (like on those TV shows) of sea glass, but an actual "collector." 

My primary goal for 2012 (NOT a "resolution") is to use the time I am going to save as a result of being better organized... and spend it actually finding things on the beach, as opposed to wishing I had time to find things on the beach, because I feel too busy being lost in my own office. 

I think that's a worthy goal.

Happy New Year!

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?