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 Members are Sue Lemmons and Cheryl Eashum from SeaGals Gallery of DE. Sue answered the questions for the two of them.
NASGA: How long have you been a member of NASGA?
We are new members this year, but have been following the organization and related links and members’ sites for several years.
NASGA: Can you share your “personal sea glass story” (how and when you became interested in sea glass)?
Our sea glass journey began long ago. As sisters, we have always been very close. We grew up camping and doing all the things that do along with that, including beachcombing. Our jewelry boxes were full of fossils, beach stone and sea glass from the Delaware coast. Over the years, we continued our beachcombing and collecting beachy things. As these things began to pile up, my husband, a neat freak (a real challenge for an artist…), asked me one day to either get rid of the piles or use them. So, of course, I chose option number 2, and I used them! We started with a lot of shell and beach stone art. It was Cheryl who came up thought to wrap beach stones into pendants. They were quite popular. Then we thought about the sea glass we had been collecting forever, wrapped it and quickly learned that there was there was an entire sea glass culture out there. We were hooked and have been making jewelry and sea glass art ever since. Lucky for us, our families have been very supportive of our venture.
NASGA: Please tell us about your particular craft and when you formed your business or began practicing your skill. (For members who create jewelry, the questions would, of course, differ from those who design mosaics or authors).
Eight years ago, I assisted a Girl Scout troop with arts and crafts, of which many were beach themed items we invented, such as shell ornaments, soaps, etc. We decided to create a business badge, which would incorporate learning basic business and marketing skills by selling their items at a local craft show. When unexpectedly asked the name of our business, we impulsively replied “SeaGals Gallery”, since we were all girls. The items we had were a huge success, and although the girls were pitifully bored, that moment rekindled my deep-down desire to create. The next year, my sister, Cheryl, joined in and together, we have cultivated and grown SeaGals Gallery of DE. Although we started with ornamental decorative type things, we moved into sea glass jewerly world six years ago- and now- cannot imagine life without it!
We are absolutely committed to finding and using the glass in the state in which it is found. We like to find the pieces with words, letters, and unusual shapes, and of course, all the different colors. We also use pottery, fossils and still at times, pretty beach stones. Cheryl is very creative with pieces that have markings or patterns, using them as a background to create pendants with tiny artistic scenes.
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?
We have quite an extensive collection, so we try to separate by color in organizers and jars. We have specific pieces that we are partial to and will probably never part with those pieces. These special pieces are the ones that we found on trips or were found by someone close to us and have sentimental value. We also have jewelry that we made for ourselves that would be hard to part with, although we have sold jewelry right off our bodies before, at client’s insistence. There was one piece that sold that way and although I was hesitant, I decided to do it, thinking I could make another for myself. I haven’t been able to find the same elements since, so, I learned that lesson the hard way.
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)?
As mentioned, Cheryl started out wrapping beach stones and fossils and then we incorporated sea glass. We initially sold some really old sea glass & good colors for next to nothing! I do wish I had kept the large lavender one from my ‘old jewelry box’ though, but we live and learn! It is interesting to look at pictures of our original work and see how far we have come in technique and style. We make unique pieces for women, kids and men, but we really enjoy making Pirate and Wench bling the most!
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)?
We have never organized a sea glass festival, but we have organized several craft shows, and it is truly a challenging experience. Those who have never set one up, most likely have little idea of how difficult it is. We did host classes for the first time last year, at the request of group hosting a week-long event. We initially committed to one class for about 15 people. These slots quickly filled during event registration, so we opened up a second class, both for 20 people and quickly filled all 40 slots. During the classes we discussed what genuine sea glass is, where if comes from and how to learn more from the NASGA website and the festivals. These folks were from all over the country and several from other countries, so it was really fun to share our passion and see their creative sides unfold. During the 2 hour class, each person were able to wrap at least 2 pieces, not all expertly, but enough to get a fair try with guidance. However, some were quite good at it and to see the pride of accomplishment from each attendee was very rewarding. One lady even went sea glassing while she was here in the one of the worst places for bugs, and we were so excited that she found glass. She wrapped it and did a nice job.
NASGA: How has your membership in NASGA benefited you professionally and/or personally?
Formal membership demonstrates commitment to the cause of preserving genuine sea glass.
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)?
This year will be our first NASGA Sea Glass Festival, but we’ve participated in many over the past 6 years. The first one in Lewes was most memorable. People loved our items, and we did very well. However, as the culture has grown, we’ve not been accepted into that show as often as we would have liked.
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?
Hobbies: gardening, making jelly and canning. Other things I would do: Write mystery stories; rehab old houses, travel the world
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?
NASGA: What is your favorite beachcombing find?
I found a red marble very early on. I sold it on an artsy seashell pin for $5.00. Again, live and learn, right? I’ve never found another.
NASGA: How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission?
By continuing to get the message out to others that using genuine sea glass in natural state as found is true sea glass. We also throw back any sea glass pieces that are not totally ready yet, to secure future sea glass finds. Also, researching the history of found sea glass.