Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cultivating Sea Glass & Shipwreck Pottery: Collecting Pieces of History

by Marla of Sea Glass Things

As an avid sea glass & shipwreck pottery collector - my passion for these fragments leads me on numerous coastal journeys. I have traveled all up and down the East Coast - hunting as I go along. Collecting has also taken me beyond the US as well. I love to explore places that can't be accessed by foot. To do so, we often kayak to islands offshore to collect.

The best times to collect usually are in the fall and spring at low tide because of all the storms that churn up the oceans floor. Full moons also bring forth many unexpected jewels... and always high & low tide lines are full of goodies. Just as a cop never reveals an informant - a sea glass collector never shares their "secret" collecting spots. Rocky inlets or beaches around a harbor usually yield the best results. Depending upon the tide, how rough the surf and/or rocky the beach is will produce different glass. I find glass that is thicker, more porous and frosted on a beach that has a rough surf with a lot of rocks. With calmer surf and a sandier beach you can find more translucent glass - yet still frosted it is not as thick.

Since I started collecting sea glass - I always wondered where they have been, what they were and who might have once possessed the item from which the piece was a part of. I love recycling, or "upcycling", these found objects into wearable art and true heirloom pieces that can be passed on through generations.

Said to be the next "semi-precious" stone of this time, sea glass is becoming increasingly more difficult to find due to environmental awareness and rising popularity. Such awareness promotes beach clean-ups, proper trash disposal, decreased "ocean dumping" and lastly, people aren't burning their trash on the beaches like they did years ago. Technology is also a reason for the decrease in sea glass. As the years passed we became smarter, thus improving on technology. Such improvements in the shipping industry lead to safer travel on the seas. That meant a sizable decrease in shipwrecks that were carrying personal items as well as trade cargo. Over the years, those pieces of history have washed upon the shores, carrying with them memories of distant lands, and have been transformed into tiny jewels that are sought from beachcombers around the world.

These pictures were from our latest travels on the North Shore - June 14th. My older daughter, Taylor and my brother Eric set out to a nearby island to collect. The last picture on the right is what we collected on shore and on the island that day. Not even half of what is pictured will be "usable" for jewelry.


  1. Love the shipwreck pottery post.
    We hunt for Sea Glass here on the West coast, too.
    Find it therapeutic as well as rewarding.
    My favorite are the red/yellow/orange colors!

  2. I too share the OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) of sea glass. It's so addicting! Thanks for the fun article.
    Monica Branstrom / iSea designs


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