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 share our next member with you.
Our next NASGA Member is Meg Carter with Made by Meg
NASGA: How long have you been a member of NASGA?
Since 2014, but I have participated as a vendor in the NASGA Festival for 4 years.
NASGA: Can you share your “personal sea glass story” (how and when you became interested in sea glass)?
I have always been a collector. At a young age my Mom introduced me to the art of collecting by sharing her rock collection from her childhood. I was impressed by the organization and labeling of each specimen. I always found myself picking up rocks or shells when at the beach. Growing up in inland Connecticut, trips to the beach were usually based around visits to my grandparents in Florida. I would collect all sorts of beach treasures on those trips. It was on a trip to Maine with a friend at the age of 9 that I found my first piece of sea glass. It was not just any piece of glass, it was the top of a spice container which still had in place the top with holes. Sea glass became a favorite to find from then on. It was not until I started my jewelry business many years later that trips and expeditions to search for sea glass really made my collection thrive.
NASGA: Please tell us about your particular craft and when you formed your business or began practicing your skill.
My interest in the jewelry industry was fueled by working in sales for one of the major jewelry chains during college. My art degree and a childhood of crafts and art projects developed my art skills. My passion for collecting beach treasures started from a young age. All of these factors came together when I was commissioned to make some sea glass jewelry. After then making some sea glass jewelry for myself, friends and family it soon became apparent that I might have a business. So in November of 2008, I created Made By Meg. After a few years my business was thriving and it was necessary to leave my 8-5 job to run Made By Meg full time. I now have a full studio in my home where I make wire wrapped sea glass jewelry, bezel set sea glass jewelry and specialize in sea glass and diamond engagement rings.
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?
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is not known for sea glass and with good reason. It is a good day if I find two semi frosted pieces of sea glass and that is with a trained eye. For me to keep my business going it requires me to go on trips to replenish my supply. When those trips do happen they are very exciting and I really look forward to them. I have always been partial to the sea foam shades of sea glass, but there’s something about white sea glass that I think most collectors overlook. The pureness and soft look of a well frosted white piece really calls to me for some reason.
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?
I keep my sea glass collection very organized. I have divided my collection by quality, then color, then size. Over the years I have tried different methods of storing my collection, but have found the most convenient and accessible way to store it is in removable drawers. I have my best quality pieces for engagement rings in individual gem display holders for easy viewing and to keep them safe. My most unique finds are in a basket on my work table so I can view and enjoy them on a daily bases. I am also very attached to unique pieces that have designs or clues to the pieces original state. Pieces that really call to me are special and often kept in my own personal collection.
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)?
Wire wrapping is an obvious place to start with sea glass jewelry and is where my craft started. My style of wrapping is more organic than ornate and makes the sea glass more of the focus than the wrapping style. I enjoy the way the piece of glass almost has a way of determining the design. I am completely self taught in wire wrapping and have always found it fun and therapeutic. Before starting my business I had done an apprenticeship under a local jeweler where I learned the basics of using a torch and soldering. After a few years in business I decided to dabble in using a torch again. I went back to the same jeweler and purchased the equipment I had learned on. I had to reteach myself as it had been so long since I learned. After a lot of trial and error and patience I was able to figure out how to bezel set sea glass. It was not long after this, I was commissioned to do my first sea glass and diamond engagement ring. After that first one was complete it snowballed quickly. Now, at any given time, I am working on 3-4 sea glass engagement rings. They are my passion and my favorite pieces to make. Working directly with the customer to design and create a unique ring that is so special is so exciting. Getting an email from a customer saying “she said YES!!!!” and knowing that customer intends to wear a piece of my artwork and jewelry everyday for the rest of their life is truly an amazing feeling. I have also grown my wholesale business providing jewelry for many retail locations. I have lots of goals and plans for the future when it comes to expanding my jewelry line. Also being a stay at home mom, time is limited to reach these goals, but I am so excited about the future and the possibilities.
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)?
Still new to being a member of the association, I have not held an active roll or board member title, but I look forward to the opportunity in the future.
NASGA: How has your membership in NASGA benefited you professionally and/or personally?
Being a part of the association has given me the opportunity to show my support for the sea glass community as a whole. I believe that the world of sea glass is still in its infant stages and is quickly gaining momentum and interest throughout the world. I find, especially in the area I live in, it is common to hear people ask me “what is sea glass?” It seems like a strange question given the people I converse with on a regular bases, but there are still many people who have never even heard of sea glass. It is exciting to be a part of things from the beginning stages. For generations to come, sea glass is going to rise in popularity and be harder to find, so it will also be prized.
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)?
I have enjoyed all the festivals I have attended and participated in. It is so exciting to meet and talk with so many people that share a passion for sea glass. So many people with one common interest sharing stories, ideas, artwork and experiences is fun and inspiring. Having the opportunity to meet my customers and share my artwork and jewelry with them is very rewarding for me. I would have to say the Cape May 2014 festival sticks out to me because of two visitors I had at my booth. I have made many sea glass engagement rings and all of them have been for customers all over the world and not one of them I have met in person, until the Cape May festival. Two wonderful ladies had chosen me to make a ring for their engagement. Their ring has always stood out to me because of the way I designed it. They had mentioned writing poems to each other was something special between them. They shared one of those poems with me as inspiration. I used their poem and designed the ring around it. It is one of my favorite designs (it is the Beaufort design in my portfolio). When I was at the Cape May festival I was conversing with customers, as usual, when someone walked up to my booth put her hand out in front of me showing off a ring and said “recognize this?” I obviously did immediately. They had driven for hours just to come to the show and meet me! I was so touched by this I was almost in tears. It will be a memory that will always be special to me.
NASGA: What are some of your other interests or hobbies? If you could learn another skill (does not need to be art related) what would it be?
Although my business and making jewelry takes a majority of my time, I have joined in helping with my husband’s hobby in brewing craft beer. We, both being artists, enjoy the creativity of trying new recipes that suit our tastes and sharing with friends, family and neighbors.
NASGA: Where can readers find out more about your craft or skill? Also, are readers welcome to contact you, and if so, what is the preferred method for them to reach you?
Visit my website: www.madebymeg.net
You can follow me on these social media sites:
Instagram: https://instagram.com/madebymeg/ @madebymeg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MadeByMegCarter @madebymegcarter
NASGA: What is your favorite beachcombing find?
My favorite find is surprisingly not sea glass. Here in Myrtle Beach, SC there’s not much sea glass, When my head is down and looking at the surf, I am usually looking for shark teeth. My husband and I have an extensive collection that we have found over the years. In case you are not familiar with collecting shark teeth, most are surprised to learn that most of the teeth you will find are black or brown. The teeth you find that are black are millions of years old. If you find a white tooth it is not nearly as old and extremely rare. In November of 2007, when my then boyfriend took me to the beach at sunrise for a beachcombing walk, he had something else in mind. He proposed as you might have guessed. I said “yes”, obviously, and after our excitement we proceeded to walk down the beach looking for shark teeth, as normal. After only a few steps, I found a white shark tooth. It was a special find for a very special day.
NASGA: How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission?
One of the NASGA Mission points is “Provide a forum and knowledge base for sea glass enthusiasts to communicate with other individuals who share their passion for genuine beach sea glass.” I have helped strengthen this objective by creating the Carter Sea Glass Color and Rarity Guide. Over the years I observed a need within the sea glass community. While referring to colors and calling them names, nowhere was there an expanded standard for what each color should be called. I found a need myself with this issue. When customers would make an order for a custom piece they might say they would like “aqua” color sea glass, My opinion of what “aqua” was and what someone else’s opinion of “aqua” could be completely different. I believed that for the community to communicate, a list of standard names needed to be created. I went to my own collection and spent many hours to finally decide on 81 colors of sea glass which I then officially named. I also found while doing this that a user friendly rarity scale would also be beneficial to the community. Rating each color on a 1-10 rarity scale is an organized and simple way of discussing and classifying a rarity grade. I compiled all of these names and rarity grades on a poster for display and use. The colors are arranged in an artistic way making the guide not only a useful tool, but a work of art. My hope is that going forward, the Carter Guide can be used as a go to standard name and rarity guide for all sea glass collectors. So far the community has had a very positive response to the guide and it is already being used by collectors all over the world.