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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.

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?