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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.

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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.

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