Monday, July 13, 2015

07.13.15 Dreaming of the sea

Getting our family of five together for a summer vacation is like an advanced level game of Tetris. With our youngest child off to college (and out of the house with a great job from June to August) - and our older ones now working for a living, it has taken weeks to put together a four day trip that fits all of our schedules.

Planning for our rendezvous on Cape Cod made me think  about the summers we spent in the Outer Banks of North Carolina - with our kids, my brother's family, and my parents.  Trying to capture that beach feeling, I pulled out one of many pairs of sea glass earrings I made over the years on those trips.

I first discovered sea glass jewelry in one of the cute shops along Highway 12 - the main beach road.  You know the ones - full of batiked tee shirts and sea shells on everything.  I liked the jewelry - but resisted the immediate urge to make a purchase.  I'm glad I did because on one rainy afternoon my sister-in-law and I took our daughters and went off to entertain ourselves while the guys hung out in front of the TV.

We were thrilled to find a nifty bead store adjacent to a coffee shop in town, and to my happy surprise they had loose drilled glass available for sale.  We spent a few wonderful hours making earrings and beaded necklaces.

We went to the Outer Banks every other year, and in one of the in between years we vacationed in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  Walking along the rocky coastline, we found a few small pieces of sea glass on our own.  On this trip I did give into my urge to take home a souvenir, and bought a wonderful bracelet with rainbow colored sea glass charms.

So what IS sea glass?  It is pieces of broken glass that find their way into the sea (or a large lake), are smoothed and shaped by spending decades in the water, and then found washed up on a beach. 

The color of the glass depends on its original use - brown glass is generally from beer or medicine bottles; green glass comes in many shades - bright green from 7Up bottles, dark green from wine bottles or paler pieces from Coke bottles.

Rarer colors are blue, red, yellow or orange.  Blue comes from things like Noxzema jars or Milk of Magnesia bottles.  Red is usually from broken tail or warning lights from cars and boats.

There are people who treat sea glass like gems - grading it on size and color, certifying authenticity, and making amazing fine jewelry using it.  This isn't really surprising - especially since the amount of "new" sea glass found every year is declining - as our society has moved from glass to plastic containers.

If you are interested in REAL sea glass, you can learn more about it and find sellers with a simple Google search.  You can also find tumbled, frosted glass beads that have the look of sea glass, but are more uniform, and particularly for larger pieces much less expensive.

For me, the beauty of these things is in the memories of making them, and time spent with my family by the sea.

Until next time.

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