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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Orange Sea Glass: The Slow "Extinction" of a Rare Color

Fall beach combing is always a bit of a mixed bag.

On the upside, fall means a couple of things, around here. One, "tourist season" is over, which means the pervasive "overpicking" of our local beaches slowly tapers off. Two, the season winds start picking up again after the doldrums of summer, and occasionally we get a good storm or two which will churn up something more than the top couple of inches on the beach. These are good things, for the sea glass hunter.

On the downside, low tides now occur mostly at "awkward" times-- like 4 o'clock in the morning, when it's pitch black outside. The "windows of opportunity" for the sea glass hunter become smaller and shorter every day, and will continue to shrink until the beginning of the new year.

A couple of days ago, we had a brilliant sunny autumn day, so I decided to "get out there" (for the first time in a couple of months) and take advantage of a retreating tide towards sunset.

As I wandered and started spotting a few pieces of sea glass, I became quite aware of the "truth" of something sea glass enthusiasts often say and hear: That sea glass is a "vanishing treasure." I wrote an article about this recently, but this beach walk really underscored the truth of this statement, particularly as it applies to the rarer colors.

For some years now, I have been blessed to live in a place where there was a nice volume of variety of sea glass-- including rare colors. What I notice most-- as the years roll by-- is the relative absence of anything "rare," these days.

Of course, orange has never been anything but a rare color. It is generally regarded as the single rarest color in sea glass collecting-- although this depends somewhat on who you ask-- and many collectors will beach comb for a lifetime and never find a piece. I've been fortunate to live in a place where I used to be able to find maybe 6-8 pieces of genuine orange sea glass per year.

But that was "then" and this is "now." Orange sea glass-- as well as other "rare" colors-- seems to have become all but "extinct."

As I got towards the end of my beach walk-- after about four hours-- what I noticed was that my bag contained a fair amount of clear, brown and green glass, with a scattering of seafoam... and very little else.

When this little nugget (it's only about 3/8" or 10mm long) suddenly caught the late afternoon sun, it was a very exciting moment. But it also made me realize just how long it had been since I'd found a piece of orange sea glass. And where were the other rare colors? I found no red, no teal, no yellow, no pink, no purple.

Sea glass IS a "vanishing treasure" because we pick it up... and none of it-- especially in "odd" colors-- is being replaced. To the small degree we use commercially produced glass objects, they are rarely made "in colors." These days, we mostly use plastics for such things... glass is reserved for things we can make in "huge volumes." Aside from which, environmental regulations keep most glass off our beaches, so it never really has the opportunity to become sea glass, in the first place.

I feel grateful that I have had the opportunity to be a sea glass collector for so many years... years that happened before it became "too late."

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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