The North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) has been working towards integrating NASGA‘s online presence, including the NASGA website, NASGA’s Facebook pages, the NASGA‘s NING social networking site, the Shorelines Newsletter, as well as our blog, to strengthen NASGA’s mission and increase NASGA’s presence within the sea glass community.
Each member of NASGA will have the opportunity to share their involvement with NASGA and the NASGA Mission, and “introduce” themselves as members of the North American Sea Glass Association. We’re calling this the “Meet the NASGA Members” blog series. We’re excited to introduce our first “Meet the NASGA Member”, Lisl Armstrong from Out of the Blue Sea Glass Jewelry, Florida.
Hello, Lisl! Thank you for being the first member in our “Meet the NASGA Member” series. Since you’re on the NASGA Communications Committee, and helped with the inception of this new series, and the fact that you’ve been involved with NASGA since 2007, we thought you’d be the perfect choice! We look forward to reading how you started your love of sea glass.
NASGA: How long have you been a member of NASGA?
Lisl: I have been a member of the NASGA since 2007
NASGA: Can you share your “personal sea glass story” (how and when you became interested in sea glass)?
Lisl: I was living in New York City in 1987 and needed a break from the cold. My grandmother who was from Puerto Rico gave me a two week vacation trip to the island as a gift. While walking on a beach in Rincon during a giant swell the surf literally threw a piece of sea glass at me. I watched it fly through the air and hit the hard wet sand. It was a cobalt blue bottle rim. The experience was otherworldly. Everything around me slowed down and there was a silence and I heard an enchanting, chiming gong like sound in my mind. A few days later the swell died down leaving behind piles of sea glass and seashells. I became addicted to collecting sea glass and my return ticket back to the states expired. I lived in Puerto Rico for the next fifteen years all because of sea glass!
NASGA: Please tell us about your particular craft and when you formed your business or began practicing your skill.
Lisl: I needed to find a way to support my beach combing habit. I started making jewelry within weeks of finding my first piece of sea glass and learned as I went along. I use to sell my jewelry from a portable card table in front of a small hotel. I quickly became addicted to making sea glass jewelry. It is amazing to me that the sea has taken in something manmade that was meant to be forgotten and then returns it to us as a gem like treasure.
NASGA: Are you also an avid sea glass collector (or do you solely enjoy working on your craft or skill), and are you partial to a certain type or color of sea glass?
Lisl: Yes, I am still a collector. I live in Florida now and our beaches do not have a lot of sea glass. I go beach combing just about every day though and have found a few nice pieces here. I also love to collect seashells, ancient fossilized sharks teeth, driftwood etc. My husband and I travel the world looking for sea glass. I am fanatical about aquamarine and turquoise sea glass.
NASGA: If you are a collector, can you tell us about your collection and whether it may be difficult to part with some of your creations or incorporate your favorite pieces into projects?
Lisl: My collection consists of sea glass that we collected ourselves in Puerto Rico, England, Italy, Costa Rica and in the USA. I do not use sea glass that would be hard for me to part with in jewelry that I sell. Sea marbles are very special to me. After living several years in Puerto Rico I found only a few. When I met my husband we would go beach combing together and he would find sea marbles all of the time. I guess my eye does not see the round shapes. I have a special collection of sea marbles that I will never part with because they mean so much to me.
NASGA: How has your craft evolved over time (how has experience helped you to perfect your craft and whether you were self-taught or took classes or had some other type of training, or whether you perhaps happened to discover your craft by accident or had an experience that shifted your focus from one type of craft/skill to another)?
Lisl: In the beginning I taught myself. Over the years I have taken a lot of jewelry classes. When I lived in Puerto Rico I went through several hurricanes and lost just about everything I owned during Hurricane Georges in 1998. After that experience, along with living in an open air house in the tropics, made me yearn for things that did not rust or degrade. So my main focus in my art is to make very strong jewelry with unusually thick wire. I do not use anything that could degrade like plated metals, stringing materials or glue etc. I find that sea glass has an ancient beauty so I make jewelry that I imagine the ancients would have made with simple hand tools and thick wire. The wire methods I use were originated thousands of years ago by nomadic people that travelled the silk route. They did a lot with only a few tools. I strive to make jewelry that will still be around in a thousand years. It all comes from living in the tropics where things would rust, breakdown or mildew etc. right before your eyes.
NASGA: Have you previously been (or are you currently) active in the association (have you had the opportunity to organize a festival, serve on the board, deliver a presentation, participate in educational-related events)?
Lisl: I have always devoted myself to the NASGA in some way whether it be in helping to organize the collectors area at the festival, serving on the board, moderating the Ning site etc. I have also lectured at some of the NASGA festivals.
NASGA: How has your membership in NASGA benefited you professionally and/or personally?
Lisl: Being a NASGA member has benefitted me tremendously. I have made a lot of really good friends through the NASGA and have had a lot of good times at the festivals. Those of us that have sea glass businesses are always dealing with the hassles of those that present fake sea glass to the public as being real. I find the NASGA to be a sanctuary for those of us that work with authentic sea glass. NASGA protects the sea glass customer which is very important. There are still a lot of fakes out there but without the NASGA I think it would be a lot worse.
NASGA: Is there a particular NASGA festival that stands out as your favorite (if the member has participated in several, or more than one), and can you a share a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival (whether sentimental, humorous, ironic)?
Lisl: The first NASGA festival I attended was in Lewes, Delaware years ago. That was where I first met other sea glass enthusiasts. That festival was the Woodstock of sea glass. It was really crowded. It was warfare, lol. I gave a lecture on Sunday and I was really nervous. I had never lectured before and decided to just go for it. My lecture was written on several pieces of paper. In the beginning I was so nervous that my voice was shaking. At some point I just decided what the heck and threw my notes up in the air and the audience really liked that. I relaxed and was able to give my lecture.
NASGA: Do you have any specific plans or goals for your craft or business (new designs or objects you wish to create or perhaps a desire to expand your business or change directions when you have more time at some point)?
Lisl: Yes, I am always striving to make things that are primitive and ancient looking.
NASGA: What are some of your other interests or hobbies?
Lisl: Yoga, nature, ecology and the ancient world.
NASGA: Where can readers find out more about your craft or skill, and if applicable, access information about your upcoming events or festivals? Also, are readers welcome to contact you, and if so, what is the preferred method for them to reach you?
Lisl: On my website naturalseaglass.com
NASGA: How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission?
Lisl: I do my best to participate in a broader sea glass community which is made up NASGA members as well as countless enthusiasts from all over the world through social networking. Social networking is an ideal modality for sea glass enthusiasts. There are various places on the internet where sea glass collectors congregate and empower each other. On any given day people are sharing information online with each other and helping to weed out the fakes. For those of us that have businesses I think it is important that we validate one another in terms of sea glass authenticity. This empowers the honest seller and helps protect consumers from getting ripped off. While on the board I took on the task of organizing the collectors area for the festivals so there would be a display only component at the festivals. I have continued to help with this effort to some extent. Last year I helped the NASGA to create an informative card about the differences between real sea glass and artificial sea glass. After serving on the board, I know how much work it involves and how time consuming it is. So when asked by the NASGA to help, I make it a point to say “Yes”, even if it is in only a small way. I think all members should keep in mind that NASGA is made up of volunteers and what little the rest of us can do to help makes a big difference in keeping NASGA and it’s mission going.