Monday, August 9, 2010
Turning Non-Jewelry Quality, Into Beautiful Creations...
A common question at the shows I do, or emails I receive, is "do I find all of my sea glass?" People local to the New Jersey shore are quite familiar with the angular pieces of sea glass that often turn up on the beach. So the question is often asked because they are well aware of what NJ sea glass looks like, especially the angular greens, browns, and whites of recent years.
While I would love to be able to hop a plane and fly over to the United Kingdom for a bit of sea glassing, it's just not in my budget (but it is something I would LOVE to have the opportunity to do) and heading out to California is also not something I am able to do at the drop of a hat...but for me, and my niche jewelry business, these places are my Michaels or AC Moore. And for every jewelry-quality piece of sea glass I find, I also probably find anywhere from 100 to several hundred pieces that aren't "jewelry-quality".
So how do I turn my non-jewelry quality pieces of sea glass into jewelry? Well, if you are expecting to hear that I tumble, acid wash, or alter the piece in any way shape of form, I'm sorry to disappoint you. I don't and I NEVER will. What my customers purchase from my, is exactly what the ocean delivered the day we found it. (minus the warm water, mild dish soap bath, of course)
Because I collected sea glass for decades before I ever considered using it to make jewelry, I have a fairly sizable collection. There are jars upon jars, dozens of gallon zip-lock bags, boxes, containers all over my craft room. And when I go through the collection, I'll always find a piece that was overlooked and it gets added to my "soon to be" jewelry container.
I do happen to trade lots and lots of NJ-type sea glass to collectors that know the value of their jewelry quality pieces. These collectors sometimes create mosaics with the pieces I send them. One collector simply puts them in glass jars and sells them. Purchasing the type of sea glass I need to make jewelry is not out of the question, but I only purchase from well-known collectors (and that usually means paying premium prices)
Every once in a while, the Atlantic Ocean will deposit a jewelry quality piece on the beach in New Jersey. And if it's a color I don't already own, it ends up in one of the shops or galleries I consign in...or perhaps it goes into my Etsy shop.
NJ doesn't turn out jewelry quality pieces very often any more. And sadly, sea glass has become "a vanishing gem" in my lifetime... so if you see a women on the beach walking at the water's edge, looking down. It'll probably be me (or a collector like me) I know there's a gem sitting in the ocean, just waiting to present itself, and I don't want to miss it- it just might be the last one.