Unusual Finds Along Chesapeake Bay

By Sharon Brubaker

Long, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the skies were pierced with cries of enormous birds, something was happening geologically just below the water. Unusual formations in the silt and mud began to take shape that would, millions of years later, reveal themselves and wash up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. These “formations,” resembling hollow rock balls, tubes, ocarinas, and more avant-garde shapes, are created from sand, clay, and iron oxide.DSC_0555.jpgWhen my family and I first moved to the shores of the upper Chesapeake and roamed the beaches in search of beach glass, we also began to find peculiar, round, metal-like objects.  We felt certain they were a type of ammunition for guns used during the Revolutionary War because George Washington had munitions created in the Principio Iron Works just a heron’s flight across the bay, near the port of Charlestown.

Being new to the area and excited to show our finds to our neighbors, our newly found friends chuckled and told us that the strange formations were called ‘pop rocks,” small hollow stones of which our neighbors would toss into beach fires and watch them explode. Another neighbor told us that the formations (are) derived from ‘Indian paint pots” and that Native American tribes used the iron oxide inside the stones to paint their faces. But it was not until we met another neighbor, and now long-time friend, Alice Lundgren, that the mystery was solved. The formations, in all their various shapes, are known as “concretions.”

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Alice has a collection of well over a thousand concretions ranging in size from a quarter of an inch to about twelve inches, all of which she has gathered from the bay. Alice was a true inspiration to my family and me, and we soon joined forces to not only hunt for sea glass, but to eagerly search for concretions. These unusual rock formations date back to the late Cretaceous and Eocene eras.  Even more fascinating than the “pop rocks” are tubular rocks. The tubular concretions are iron oxide formations that reflect a pipe-like structure.

When we go exploring along our nearby beach, Alice, a seasoned concretion seeker, has the ability to spot the stone tubes instantly, yet the rest of us are not so fortunate, as the finds appear camouflaged to the untrained eye. Some of the concretions boast unique shapes, such as small cups, snowmen, and acorns while the tubular concretions often resemble coral, branches, and even small musical pipes (although they do not carry a tune))! Similar to sea glass, each concretion seems to carry its own story and personality.

Having been formed millions of years ago from sedimentary rock, concretions have been significant and mystical to many cultures. Some cultures believe them to be holy stones while other cultures believe the stones bring luck, or perhaps represent the divine feminine. However, theories of modern science suggest the concretions are fossils or meteorites.

As beachcombers, we are treasure-hunters.  We are always seeking the next great find. The Shard of the Year Contest, which is one of the highlights of the North American Sea Glass Association’s annual Festival, would be ideal opportunity to view both natural and manmade treasures (this year’s North American Sea Glass Festival will be held in Wildwood, New Jersey on October 27 – 28).

*Many thanks to Alice Lundgren for sharing her collection of concretions, and to Meredith Keating and Brandon Boas for their photography.

 

 

NASGA Meet the Member – Suzanne Hunter – The Sea Glass Grotto

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview – Suzanne Hunter – The Sea Glass Grotto

Q: How did you learn about NASGA, and how long have you been a member of the association?

   A:   I heard about NASGA through it’s current President, Kim Hannon, when I participated in one of her events. I have been a member for 2 years as The Sea Glass Grotto.

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Q: Can you share your personal sea glass story, or how you discovered and developed a passion for tumbled treasures? 

A:   I started collecting with My grandmother, in North Wildwood New Jersey, in the 1970’s. Our nightly ritual when we were visiting would be to take stale bread to the beach after dinner to feed the birds, and find treasures!

Q: Please tell us about your particular craft or skill, such as tools and techniques, training and experience, and how your product or skill has evolved or changed over time. 

A:  I making wire Jewelry with telephone wire from my father when I was a child, I would wrap stones, and flowers, and make paper beads. I developed my own Silver Smithing skills with the help of many books and advice of other artists, but I am primarily self taught. Learning is a never ending journey.

Q: Are you also a sea glass collector (or do you solely enjoy working on your craft or skill)? If you are a collector, can you tell us about your collection, and is difficult to part with some of your creations or favorite pieces?

A:  I am a collector, and I have many pieces I will never part with, those are special to me because I treasure the memories of my childhood and my grandparents that they evoke. I keep them stashed away in my jewelry box.

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Q: Can you share some of the joys and challenges of your business and craft?

A:   The biggest joy and challenge is sharing the difference between real and artificial Sea Glass. It is wonderful to be able to educate people on the differences while also sharing memories, or stories, I feel like beachcombing as a whole is a very personal journey for each individual and I hear many stories about those adventures.

Q: How does your NASGA membership benefit you professionally and/or personally?

A:   I have the backing of a wonderful organization who stands behind it’s artists as being genuine sea glass and handcrafted wares.

 Seafoam Heart setQ: Do you plan to exhibit at the upcoming festival in Wildwood, New Jersey, and is there a particular NASGA festival that stands out as a favorite, or a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival?

A:   I am extremely excited about this year’s festival since it is in my home county. Wildwood, and Cape May County are absolutely wonderful in the fall, with a wide variety of events, wonder dining and fabulous weather, and I am looking forward to “hosting” my fellow NASGA members and sharing some of my favorites!

 

Q: Can you tell us about some of your other interests or hobbies?

A:   Being a mom, most of my favorite hobbies revolve around my kids, but as a family we enjoy beach time, camping and cooking. We are currently in the planning stages of a lengthy cross country trip in our Winnebago.

Q: How can the public learn more about your craft or skill, inquire about your calendar (upcoming exhibits or events), and/or contact you if desired?

A:  I am not as tech savvy as I wish I was so the easiest platforms for me are on Facebook The Sea Glass Grotto and Instagram.

NASGA Meet the Member – Bruce & Gail Barton – Sea Glass Designs

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview –  Bruce & Gail Barton – Sea Glass Designs

Q: How did you learn about NASGA, and how long have you been a member of the association?

A:  Sea Glass Designs has been members of NASGA since 2007. We attended our first sea glass festival the following year in Lewes, Delaware. We first learned about the association from an online search.

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Q: Can you share your personal sea glass story, or how you discovered and developed a passion for tumbled treasures?

A:  I first learned about sea glass while reading the novel Sea Glass by Anita Shreve. At the time we had just retired and were living on our boat in the Bahamas. I started to search the beaches and was rewarded with finding many gems. After reading Richard LaMotte’s book Pure Sea Glass, I became addicted to the hobby of collecting sea glass. I also learned while reading his book, the we were in a great spot to collect really old treasures.

Q: Please tell us about your particular craft or skill, such as tools and techniques, training and experience, and how your product or skill has evolved or changed over time. 

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A:  Bruce kept saying I was going to sink the boat if I collected any more sea glass and that I needed to do something with all the glass. For Christmas that year my daughter gave me a beginning jewelry making kit. I took the kit back to the boat and tried to follow the instructions on how to make a piece wrapped jewelry. After becoming totally frustrated, I asked Bruce to help me. He looked at the page once and picked up a piece of sea glass and within seconds made the pendant. He thought that was a lot of fun and continued making wrapped sea glass pendants. Who know that former engineers, make great jewelers. Bruce can just look at a piece of sea glass and know the best way to put it in a setting. He has since gone to many professional classes and studied under master jewelers. He is now an accomplished metalsmith. I have also been attending classes in jewelry manufacturing and design. I am not yet a silversmith, but my skills have improved greatly from my first attempt at making jewelry.

Q: Are you also a sea glass collector (or do you solely enjoy working on your craft or skill)? If you are a collector, can you tell us about your collection, and is difficult to part with some of your creations or favorite pieces?

A:   We are collectors and well as sea glass jewelers. Most of the glass we find in the Bahamas is very old going back to the 18th and 19th century The island is rich in beautiful old sea glass as a result of numerous shipwrecks on the reefs off the island ds during the early 1800’s I do have a hard time parting with some of our treasures. I do keep my very favorites but share them with sea glass lovers at shows. We love to talk about the pieces in our collection with show goers.

Q: Can you share some of the joys and challenges of your business and craft?

A:  We still get excited every time we see someone wearing one of our creations. It never gets old. Bruce and I work at the business full time even when we are in the Bahamas for the winter. I don’t think we ever planned to come out of retirement to go back to work. When you work for yourself, you spend a heck of a lot more time at it than you ever did in a 9 to 5 job. Our business is always open.

Q: How does your NASGA membership benefit you professionally and/or personally?

A:  Being members of NASGA has been rewarding to us both professionally and personally. We learn so much from other members. Everyone is always willing to help you. Last year we forgot our side curtains for a weekend long show. Other member quickly came to our assistance and loaned us everything we needed for us to remain in the show. The best part of our membership has been the friendships that we have made. The members of the organization are all very special people.

Q: Do you plan to exhibit at the upcoming festival in Wildwood, New Jersey, and is there a particular NASGA festival that stands out as a favorite, or a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival?

A:  Our favorite show was the very first show we were in at Erie PA. Because it was our first show everything was new and exciting to us. We learned that members were very supportive and offered lots of help. Every show was special is some way, but we have done so many now, they start to run together.

Q: Can you tell us about some of your other interests or hobbies?

A:  In addition to beach combing, sailing has been a big part of our life. It started as a hobby and became part of our lifestyle. When we are not on our boat, walking the beach, or making jewelry, you will most likely find us on a tennis court.

Q: How can the public learn more about your craft or skill, inquire about your calendar (upcoming exhibits or events), and/or contact you if desired?

A:  Our webpage www.handmadeseaglassjewelry.com has information about us, our show schedule and contact information. The can also follow us on FaceBook www.facebook.com/seaglassdesigns1/ and Instagram sea_glass_designs. Our email address is bbarton@sea-glass-designs.com

NASGA Meet the Member – Don Bernard – Ptowntreasures

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview – Don Bernard – PTownTreasures

Q: How did you learn about NASGA, and how long have you been a member of the association?

   A:  I found about NASGA , in 2008, while researching articles about sea glass and joined in 2017 as a Commercial Member as Ptowntreasures.

Q: Can you share your personal sea glass story, or how you discovered and developed a passion for tumbled treasures? 

DSC09388A:  I had a jar of beach stones in my office when a co-worker saw it and asked why not sea glass. She explained what it was and where I could find it on the beach. Our next vacation turned into a beach glass expedition with the entire family involved. From then on finding beach glass became an obsession that we all still enjoy and have spread that thrill to several friends. It never gets boring and we have a very large collection of glass and pottery collected from the beaches of Cape Cod.

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Q: Please tell us about your particular craft or skill, such as tools and techniques, training and experience, and how your product or skill has evolved or changed over time. 

A:  In 2013 our sea glass collection was growing larger with jars and containers full of glass and pottery. My daughter suggested I might look into making jewelry. I had no idea what was involved but thought it might make an interesting hobby, having retired in 2009 after 40 years as an Electronics Engineer. Further research led me to the Worcester MA Center for Crafts and their jewelry fabrication courses with a concentration on metals, i.e., silver, copper, brass. I took all three of the 6 week courses and started making jewelry. We were instructed in soldering, forming metals, making of different jewelry items, hand tools, finishing and polishing. That was in 2013, since then I have set up two studios, one in North Truro MA and the other in my home in Uxbridge MA. My daughter started to take some pieces to work and sold them. I was soon taking orders and set up my shop on Etsy and started to participate in Provincetown MA craft fairs. I have sold over 300 pieces and shipped to many parts of the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I now fabricate rings, various styles of bracelets, pendants, dangle and stud earrings. What started as a hobby has turned into a small business that I truly enjoy doing.

DSC01347Q: Are you also a sea glass collector (or do you solely enjoy working on your craft or skill)? If you are a collector, can you tell us about your collection, and is difficult to part with some of your creations or favorite pieces?

A:  We collect for the joy of collecting, searching and of course finding sea glass and pottery. One of the two grandsons has an eye for black glass and has located an area that he goes to to find his treasures. I separate the jewelry quality pieces from the seconds. The exceptionally nice pieces of glass get turned into jewelry which our daughter quickly appropriates for herself. I think I might need a safe to hide them! I mentioned we have converted several friends to searching, one in particular is Ed Drzazga, my friend from the Navy, going back 50 years. He sends us pieces from Lake Erie. He was hooked on sea glass after visiting us in 2014, it has turned into a great way for him to exercise.

DSC01377Q: Can you share some of the joys and challenges of your business and craft?

A:  That’s a question with a simple answer! The challenge is making pieces that are fun to make and to try and anticipate what our customers want. The joy is when they purchase the items and even more joy when a custom order turns out to be what they had envisioned.

Q: How does your NASGA membership benefit you professionally and/or personally?

A:  My membership allows me to display the NASGA logo and the establish credentials as someone who knows real sea glass from the items sold to unsuspecting individuals. Personally it makes it incumbent on me to research and read as much as possible regarding sea glass.

 Q: Do you plan to exhibit at the upcoming festival in Wildwood, New Jersey, and is there a particular NASGA festival that stands out as a favorite, or a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival?

A:  Unfortunately my current schedule does’t allow me to attend. I have not been to any sea glass festivals.

Q: Can you tell us about some of your other interests or hobbies?

A:  I love to fly kites. I have been doing this for 18 years now. I have approximately 40 kites, single line, dual line and a four line kite. I used to fly in Newport RI and local fields in Uxbridge MA. My place of employment had several fields so myself and a friend flew almost daily, weather permitting. When I retired my staff presented me with a large luna moth kite, only 200 had been made.

Q: How can the public learn more about your craft or skill, inquire about your calendar (upcoming exhibits or events), and/or contact you if desired?

A:  The public can learn a lot by visiting the NASGA website or going to their local library and check out the books dealing with sea glass. I can be contacted via my website www.ptowntreasures.com. I participate weekly in the craft fair in Provincetown MA at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on Commercial St, every Thursday starting June 21, 2018 until the end of August and at the Truro Treasures craft fair held in September.

2018 Lectures Announced for the North American Sea Glass Festival in Wildwood, NJ

The 13th Annual North American Sea Glass Festival will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2018 and Sunday, October 28, 2018 at The Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey.

The North American Sea Glass Festival is the premier sea glass event in the country celebrating the history and beauty of sea glass.    The event will be held on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Admission is $7.00 per day, Children Under 12 Free.  There will be a two-day ticket available for purchase on Saturday for a reduced rate of $10.

This year the festival will also include Sunday lectures.   The North American Sea Glass Festival will feature expert lecture presentations on the history and collection of genuine sea glass.  Each lecture will be approximately 45 minutes.  There will be a Q & A session after the lectures.   The lectures will be located in the main hall of the festival.

Lectures: Saturday, October 27, 2018

11:30 a.m.

Beach Marble History in Wildwood, New Jersey and Beyond

The National Marbles Tournament has been held in Wildwood since 1922. Learn about the history of beach marbles found locally and why they’re found on other beaches around the world.   The lecture will feature Doug Watson, board member of the National Marbles Tournament explaining the history of the tournament followed by Mary McCarthy, who will showcase her collection of vintage sea marbles while discussing the many types of marbles you would find along the East Coast and beyond.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 8.43.28 AMDoug Watson has been involved with the game of marbles for over 20 years. He won the 1999 National Marbles Tournament at age 14. With a team of other mibsters, he traveled to England to compete at the World Marbles Tournament. Doug has competed in the U.S. Marble Championship, Rolley Hole Tournament in Tennessee, the Former National Champions Tournament, and the NMT alumni tournament held every 5 years in Wildwood.  In more recent years, he has taken to the microphone on the Wildwood beach as emcee for the annual National Marbles Tournament in June; he’s also a committee member, continuing the tournament’s 95-year tradition.  Doug also runs a local marble club in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, where he coaches kids between the ages of 7-14 to learn the competitive side of playing marbles. This year he coached the National Champion runner-up. He is an avid collector of antique and contemporary glass artists marbles.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 10.13.55 PMMary McCarthy is Education Chair and a Board Member of the North American Sea Glass Association and Co-Executive Director of The Sea Glass Center nonprofit. She is a bestselling author, Reiki master, and lifelong journalist and editor including work for Salon.com, the Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore SunGlassing magazine, Chesapeake Family and splicetoday.com.  She is the founder of thehealingbeach.com. In addition to many conferences, she has lectured at American University, University of Maryland, The Writer’s Center, and she teaches at Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, MD. She is a mother of four and beachcombs and kayaks on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

 

2:00 p.m.

Bottle Bottoms, Lips, and More

Richard LaMotte returns as our keynote lecturer with an informative sea glass identification lecture covering tips for dating unique bottle shards top to bottom. Learn techniques to quickly discern which bottle bottoms and lips in your collection date prior to 1800, 1860, 1900 and 1950.

Screen Shot 2018-07-08 at 10.14.50 PMRichard LaMotte is the author of the award-winning book Pure Sea Glass and a sequel titled The Lure of Sea Glass. He was a co-founder and past-president of the North American Sea Glass Association.  Richard works and lives near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland where he began sea glass hunting in 1999. In 2002 he began researching glass history for a lecture which led to extensive research into glass colors, as well as the physics and chemistry behind the frosted glass found along the shoreline. In 2006 Pure Sea Glass was awarded first place for non-fiction in Writer’s Digest 13thAnnual Self-Published Book Competition.  Richard and his book have been featured in The Washington Post, on Martha Stewart Living TVCoastal LivingParade Magazine, Baltimore SunThe Boston Globe, Delaware Beach Life, on NPR and Maryland Public Television.

 

Lectures: Sunday, October 28, 2018

11:30 a.m.

Sea Glass Sourcing: Beaches Known to Relinquish Specific Finds

Discover how exploring beaches can help you connect to the sources of unique finds based on local history.   Ellie Mercier will share her passion for sea glass with her informative lecture on sea glass hunting and what makes each place unique.

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Ellie Mercier, a current as well as former NASGA board member and longtime member of the association, has lectured at several beachcombing events and is the author of The Sea Glass Companion, a comprehensive hobby guide. When she isn’t teaching college English, writing, or working in her sea glass studio, Ellie is likely to be found combing along the Chesapeake Bay. She is also a proud mother and grateful daughter, and is especially thankful for her husband John, who puts up with her compulsion to bring home every stray remnant that rolls ashore.

 

2:00 p.m.

Hurricane Maria: Renewal, Hope and the Love of Sea Glass

One island’s story of destruction and rebuilding through the lens of the sea glass community.

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Carolyn Pigford is a sea glass hunter, diver, and owner of Huntress by Sea jewelry. Originally from the foothills of Maryland, Carolyn has been sea glass hunting in Puerto Rico since 2008 and a full time resident there since 2014 when she started making sea glass jewelry. After Hurricane Maria, Carolyn was amazed by the way the sea glass community came together to help the victims of Hurricane Maria and is sharing some of the stories of the rebuilding and how the beachcombing community has been affected in Puerto Rico.