I poked a lot of limp sea creatures this week. It turns out that pieces of jellyfish that wash up on the shore look a lot like beach glass. Some bits of jellyfish are perfectly transparent and shimmer like crystal under the sun, while others are cloudy and frosted-looking, like nicely rounded beach glass. My efforts were rewarded, despite those icky experiences, because we found a lot of interesting glass and pottery on the beach.
The three lowest tides of the month fell on consecutive days this week, and we took advantage to collect sea glass. Arriving at Sand City beach, we found a number of serious beach glass collectors at work. Six or seven people, each wearing wet suits and boots, sometimes a parka, sometimes elbow length rubber gloves, waded in the surf. For more than an hour, maybe even two, they ranged along the shore with a long-handled tool, scraping up beach gravel and glass, rummaging through the pieces, and putting some in a shoulder bag, while wet to mid-thigh and up to the elbows. We admired their hard work, and wondered what they did with their finds.
As we walked down the beach, we stopped to watch a man collecting in the surf. He was dressed head to toe in protective gear, wet suit, boots, gloves, and hood, with his scoop and collecting bag. He noticed us and waved, then approached us, extended his scoop and showed us the glass he’d found. He then offered me the pieces. “Really?” I asked. He nodded. I thanked him and collected several very nice pieces. He turned back to the water before I had the chance to ask him what he did with his finds.
We strolled up the beach, looking for beach glass along the high tide line. There were lots of pieces to collect, and though we didn’t find any exotic colors, we didn’t have to wade in the waves to find pieces. On the way back, we stopped at our beach glass friend again, and asked what he did with his finds. He said he made things from them (hangings with driftwood, for example), and sold some. He offered me more pieces and I thanked him and asked why he was sharing with me. “Karma,” he said. “You give some away and you find some more.” We thanked him again, waved, and went our way.
On the way back, Jonathan added to my collection of beach pennies. I’m not sure what happens to pennies once they start rolling around in seawater, but the surface erodes and the copper surface peels and bubbles. I haven’t been spending much actual cash, so I still have all three. I’m not sure anyone would take them, even CoinStar.
A few hours of beach combing is hard on the knees and the back, so on the second low tide of three in a row, we made a much shorter visit to McAbee beach. We’ve visited before and noticed that there is a lot of very small beach glass in the sand. Rather than spending a lot of time stooping and peering, we took a plastic bag and collected about 2 quarts of sand from an area that seemed to have a lot of small pieces. Once we got it home, we could search the sand for tiny pieces of glass. I have been using these to make earrings filled with mini beach glass, filling little bottles and vials with colored pieces. I had been crushing glass bits to fill some extra-tiny vials, but that is both a bit of a mess and more time consuming than you’d think. My new collection of itty-bitty pebbles of beach glass will let me make as many little bottles of glass as I want. I’ll go back to making larger items after that. (Click the link in the side bar of this post to visit the Etsy site where I post the beach glass jewelry I make.)
We didn’t get through all the sand and tiny glass before it was the third and last day of low tides for at least a month. I thought I’d have a try at scooping into the water like the pros, even though I don’t have a dedicated tool. I dug out my wetsuit and water sandals, and got ready to dip in the ocean. Turns out, I’m not that good at getting wet. The day was sunny and warm, and there were women in bikinis lying on the beach in places, but I watched a woman raking in the water while a wave broke over her shoulder. I just couldn’t do it. I waded around and got wet up to my knees and elbows, and we collected some lovely beach glass. We also decided that we probably did just as well on land as getting wet. If it were 90o F. out, I might give it another try, but now I have so much glass that I don’t need to go beach combing until the next extra-low tides at the end of April. I’ll just walk on the beach and enjoy the view.