Saturday, January 14, 2017

Collecting Glass by the Sea

I like to be a busy body with lots of hobbies and interests and I'm always on the look-out for new activities to occupy and open my mind to new things.  This past summer, I took up a new hobby that many people around Cape Breton have been doing for years already; collecting sea glass.  For those of you who live away from the ocean and perhaps aren't familiar with sea glass, I'll provide you with a short summary.  No it's not the practice of picking up broken beer bottles left behind by teenage beach parties.  Sea glass starts as regular glass (brown, white and green are the most common) that somehow makes into a body of salt water and after 30-50 years of being tossed around in the rough salty seas, it takes on a smoother, rounder frosted look that can be used for many things including making jewelry or artwork.

I remember the exact moment I developed an interest in sea glass.  I was browsing the exhibits and vendors at the Festiville Festival in Baddeck when I noticed some peculiar artwork on display.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was pictures featuring scenes cleverly put together with sea glass.  I'd never thought of doing something like that and I thought the pictures were more than cute enough to make some of my own to display in my new apartment and showcase my love for everything beachy.  A few tables down, someone else displayed jewelry made from sea glass and after that, I was hooked!  Not only is the glass very pretty and unique, it's versatile.

The very next day, during my morning walk on Dominion Beach, I saved my empty Tim Horton's cup once I was done drinking my morning coffee and used it to hold all the sea glass I picked up along the way.  I found quite a bit of white and green glass and even a few pieces of brown but none of the blue that I am told is one of the rarest colors of sea glass out there.
My sea glass collection...it gets bigger and bigger after every trip to the beach!

I've seen blue sea glass around and have heard of people finding it but to this day, I only ever found one very small piece.  That first day of my newly-found sea-glass-collecting-hobby, I discovered a possible theory as to where all the blue glass (if there were ever any on Dominion Beach) was going; about a dozen people with containers in hand were walking along the beach with their heads down.  A short conversation with one of them confirmed that she, and most likely all of them, were collecting sea glass as well. I had no idea until this summer that so many people took an interest in sea glass.  What started out a few days earlier as a quest to take up a new hobby quickly morphed into a competitive sport that involved me heading to the beach first thing every morning to race the other collectors to the newly washed up loot.  I went in all types of weather and sometimes even went several times a day.  Every time I went to a beach anywhere, I took a container with me to collect any glass I found. I raked large piles of washed-up rocks to find hidden morsels and even waded out into knee-deep water to collect the ones that didn't quite make it to dry land.

Driving through Inverness on the western side of Cape Breton Island one afternoon, I decided to stop and take a walk along the very long, sandy beach with my Tim's cup.  I started at the far end and walked for quite a long time and didn't see any glass.  I was more than half way down the beach before I saw any and, at first, there was only a few pieces and than all of a sudden, there was so much of it, my cup was soon full and I had to start filling the pockets of my jeans and jacket.  As usual, it was lots of white with some scattered green and brown pieces until something blue caught my eye in the sand among some bigger white pieces.  I picked it up and to my surprise, it was a piece of the rare and much sought after blue sea glass!  It was very small but blue nonetheless.  To me, after searching for just one blue piece all summer, it was like finding hidden treasure or winning the lottery.  I tucked it away somewhere safe and it is now in the jar with all the other sea glass.  A reminder of the day I hit the jackpot of sea glass collecting.
The only blue piece of sea glass I've found so far.

My collection of sea glass is fairly large now.  I haven't really done anything with it yet.  I have it in a cookie jar displayed on my microwave stand in my kitchen.  For now, it's a rather pretty ornament in my apartment until my creative side decides to do something, well, creative with it.   What was once coke bottles, beer bottles and who knows what else may someday be a lot more.  Decades ago, they were thrown into the water to sit until they became another person's treasure...maybe someday fifty years down the road, after I create a work of art with the pieces, my collection will be another person's treasure.

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