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.

The Hidden Gems of the Annual Sea Glass Festival: A Look Behind the Scenes

volunteers
Volunteers during our 2017 North American Sea Glass Festival, creating new friends and memories to last a lifetime!

For sea glass enthusiasts, there are many reasons to celebrate the spring, one of which is the highly anticipated announcement of NASGA’s annual festival. Hence, as recently publicized, the association’s 13th annual North American Sea Glass Festival will take place on Oct. 27 – 28 at The Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey.

Although it can be difficult to capture the wonder of the festival in words, chairperson Roxann Williams paints a fairly accurate picture: “The North American Sea Glass Association is unique; it is a love of history, reclamation, recycling, and treasure -hunting, all wrapped into one. It’s extremely rewarding to see the excitement and joy of our attendees as they learn through our lectures and shard identification experts, and purchase unique and artistic pieces from the exhibitors to add to their home and jewelry collections.”

However, unlike annual events that are held in the same location, and on similar dates each year, the fact that the sea glass festival is a “traveling show” requires never ending planning and fails to lighten the workload from one year to the next. For instance, solely selecting a venue each year – one that can not only accommodate the specific needs of the festival, but is also affordable, conveniently located for the majority of exhibitors and attendees, and available on preferable dates – can be particularly challenging. Promoting and advertising the event can be trying too, especially since the members of the planning committee, who also vary from year to year, are often unfamiliar with the city chosen to host the event. Yet probably the most difficult task associated with a traveling festival is recruiting volunteers, and NASGA could not be more blessed in this area.

While enlisting help is vital to the success of a show, it requires a very special person to establish a group of loyal, devoted volunteers. Therefore, the association is indebted to our festival chairperson, who just happens to possess such talent. Williams, an ardent sea glass fan who has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, was asked to chair NASGA’s fifth annual festival in Hyannis Port, MA during 2010, and no one else has been given a chance to fill her shoes ever since. Her strong organizational skills and compassionate nature make Williams an ideal mentor and leader, and she has a knack for fostering meaningful friendships and camaraderie among the festival volunteers. As long-time NASGA volunteer Dr. Barbara Boyce states, “The people are the reason I volunteer my time for this event, and Roxann (Williams) and her husband, Steve, are great people and easy to work with. They deal extremely well with all of the challenges and stresses of putting on a fantastic festival.”

According to Williams, without the excitement and commitment of the volunteers, it would be difficult to handle all of the behind-the-scenes tasks that allow the festival to operate smoothly. Throughout the event, as avid hobbyists display their impressive sea glass collections, exhibitors offer their artwork and books, and speakers share their special knowledge, the volunteers oversee NASGA’s information table, distribute tickets and programs, answer questions, direct attendees, and provide coverage for exhibitor booths. And on Sunday, the second and final day of the show, the volunteers assist with the culminating event, the infamous SOTY (“Shard Of The Year”) Contest, which many consider the highlight of the festival. For the contest, attendees are encouraged to enter their most impressive sea glass finds, and cash prizes are awarded for the “winning shard” in each category (frosted bottle, art glass, buttons/beads, figural, most unusual, whimsical toys, pottery/ceramics, historical, marbles, and the grand prize, the “Overall Beauty”). The contest is comparable to a “traveling sea glass museum” and is an absolute treat for those interested in the pastime.

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Dr. Barbara Boyce & Sharon Brubaker enjoying some beachcoming together.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Boyce and her friend Sharon Brubaker were inspired to contribute to the event due to their mutual affection for sea glass. In September of 2014, the two friends embarked on a road trip to Cape May, New Jersey to volunteer at the association’s 9th annual festival, which proved to be a particularly memorable experience. For the first time in the show’s history, the number of attendees exceeded the maximum capacity of the ballroom, and the fire marshal had to step in to monitor the number of individuals exiting and entering the hall. As Boyce suggests, “The Cape May NASGA festival was my first experience. Every person who attended can likely recall a crazy, fun, and crowded time. I was hooked. I thought I was familiar with sea glass through reading, but I realized that I had much to learn. The folks at NASGA are the experts, and I drank in every word and could not wait until the next year to volunteer.” Today, both Boyce and Brubaker are extremely knowledgeable about sea glass, and it is a joy to observe them respond to questions from attendees and help educate the public about the tumbled treasures.

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Faith McCarthy, the festival’s youngest volunteer and 2017 NASGA documentary, “Sea Glass around the Globe” producer/director

Each year, the allure of the hobby encourages seasoned and new volunteers alike to contribute to the festival. Among the group of devoted “regulars” are mother and daughter teams, husband and wife pairs, and close peers who share a passion for sea glass and enjoy working together. Some volunteers have been assisting at the festival for over six years, and as each show kicks off, it is especially rewarding to overhear shrieks of delight as friendships are reignited between returning exhibitors, volunteers, and attendees. Yet even though NASGA is blessed with loyal volunteers, further support at the show is always welcome, so the association reaches out by advertising on the festival’s Facebook page and contacting local sea glass groups and non-profits, as well as the hosting city’s Chamber of Commerce in an effort to recruit enthusiasts.

Particularly when an event is running smoothly, attendees are unlikely to give any thought to the source of organization and support behind the scenes. Therefore, it bodes well for the sea glass festival that those who are busy pulling the strings often go unnoticed. However, if it seems to defy logic that the individuals who do the most work also receive the least amount of credit, keep in mind that the explanation is all in a name: “volunteer” – a person who does something, especially for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it” (dictionary.cambridge.org). A statement made by volunteer Sharon Brubaker lends credence to the definition, “It has been a pleasure to interact with everyone at NASGA.  Now that I am a repeat volunteer, I genuinely look forward to seeing sea glass kindred spirits each year.”  Without a doubt, the NASGA volunteers are the hidden gems of the annual festival.

Interested in Volunteering this year for our 13th Annual North American Sea Glass Festival in Wildwood, NJ on October 27-28, 2018? Please email Roxann at festival@seaglassassociation.org

NASGA Meet the Member – Steve Gladhill and Tammy Thatcher, STBeachFinds

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview – Steve Gladhill & Tammy Thatcher, STBeachFinds

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

A:  We learned about NASGA after doing our first Eastern Shore Sea Glass Festival in St. Michaels, Maryland back in 2014. After speaking with Kim Hannon and receiving encouragement, we became members in 2015.  That year we participated in the Ocean City, MD show.  We have participated in the NASGA festival each year since.

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

SteveTammy

A: Ours is truly a story of soulmates. We have both grown up on the water most of our lives. We dated as young adults but went our seperate ways. Life changes occured about 8 years ago we found ourselves together again. As we continued to take long healing walks on the beaches, a love developed not only for each other but for the beaches, waterways and all their treasurers. We live our lives knowing that sometimes things discarded years ago come back as beautiful diamonds.

 

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: We have a divide and conquer method. Steve is the one who does all the drilling. If it has a hole in it, he did it. Tammy on the other hand does all the wire wrapping. Our techniques are all self taught by watching how to videos.

Our skills improve with every piece we create. Every piece is unique and teaches us something new. The fun part of the process begins with selecting the perfect pieces for the item you are preparing. The satisfaction comes when the pieces turns out better than your original vision.

Steve hard at work

 

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 started this as true collectors. After going to a few shows and speaking with other vendors and collectors we decided to try our creative side. It has bloomed and evolved into a business that keeps us engaged when we are not at our 9-5 jobs. As for those special pieces, we hold on to a few for us and family but feel sharing them is the best reward.

 

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

A: Joys are simple. Just taking the day and spending it outdoors on a beach searching for treasures. What could be more prefect. Challenges we face seem to be the uneducated public and the flood on the market with manufactured glass. We spend a great deal of time with customers who have questions trying to help them so they can help educate others.

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

A: NASGA has been a great resource for us.  The information provided, the people we meet and the venues are always top notch.

 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: We plan to be at Wildwood, NJ. We believe the festivals get better every year. As vendors, we enjoyed the Friday evening meet and greet. We were able to speak with people from other areas and talk about what is working for them. This time was very valuable and fun. As for the festival itself, we believe keeping the fun atmosphere and different lectures as well as the contest is the key to keeping the public informed and aware. An educated public is our best customers.

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

A: We love the water and anything associated with it. We have a small boat and enjoy exploring. You would think that since we live on the bay we would vacation elsewhere but the ocean calls and we must answer. In the winter we still spend time in the water at our local aquatic center. Steve has an extensive fossil/sharks tooth collection and would love to talk to anyone who is willing to listen.

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: We are reachable on our business Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Stbeachfinds/  We post our upcoming shows and usually have the next one pinned to the top of the page. Our home number is 410-586-3527 and has an answering machine for messages. We do work full time jobs so please be patient and we will get back to you.

NASGA Meet the Member – Wendy Garver – Silverwhimsies Jewelry

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview- Wendy Garver, Silverwhimsies Jewelry

Wendy Garver is the owner of Silverwhimsies Jewelry. She is very passionate about creating unique and special pieces for people who want something a little bit different. If we had to describe her jewelry we would say it’s very organic. Leaving the sea glass in its original sea tumbled state is essential to how she designs her jewelry. Unlike gems and cabochons, sea glass has little nooks and crannies that the bezel folds in to creating uneven, gnarly shapes. Another important element in her jewelry designs is the use of scrap silver. She melts down whatever scrap silver she has then she hammers, flattens and shapes the silver so it echo’s the lines of the sea glass. She never knows what she’s going to end up with until the piece is finished. Each piece of Silverwhimsies Jewelry is one of a kind.

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

A:  Rebecca Ruger of Glassing Magazine was following me on Instagram and she contacted me to tell me about NASGA. I was just starting out with my business and knew nothing about NASGA but I applied and happily I was accepted. That was 2 years ago!

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

Me a work (1)A: My sister gave me a jar full of sea glass that she had collected from around the world. I was learning about bezeling stones and thought I’d give bezeling a piece of the sea glass s try. I loved the final product! I realized that I much preferred the organic shapes to the very defined cabochons. I never could color inside the lines.

 

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. 

AI took a Metalsmith class at our local college and fell in love. I experimented with copper in class and then moved on to sterling silver which is my metal of choice. Fusing the silver is a major part of my designs. This technique is very unpredictable and takes some practice but the results are as organic as the sea glass. Nothing goes to waste at my bench. My silver scrap box is my go to destination when I’m starting a piece which I then fuse to new, virgin silver. The end result is a recycled piece of 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: I collect sea glass to make my jewelry.

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

A: I love doing shows throughout the year. The feedback is very important to me, it’s my fuel. Keeping track of my inventory is my biggest challenge but I’m developing a system to track what sells at different shows. Square has a fantastic inventory system and I highly recommend it. The initial input of your inventory is a daunting task but from then on you just add what you make each day. Now when I sell a piece I can pull up the inventory number on my ipad and Square does the rest. It’s full of reports and it allows you to track your business. I love it!

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

A: Having the NASGA logo on my website has brought me many customers. I think it gives the artist credibility and assures the customer that I deal with only real 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: I have applied and hope to be at Wildwood in the fall. Last year in Ocean City, Maryland was my first NASGA show and it was a great success. I loved being able to meet so many talented artist and meet the brains behind the operation. Loved it!

Me

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

A: I’m a workalcoholic and spend most day light hours at my bench. I have a crazy 4 year old yellow lab that requires a whole lot of attention which I love being able to provide. Working from home has so many benefits, that being one of them.

 

 

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 keep my website up to date with shows that I participate in. It also has the “about” page that fills in the gaps and my contact information is available there as well.

The Slowly Vanishing Gems

by Ellie Mercier

While beachcombing last week, I began to reminisce about the frequent “aha moments” associated with the thrill of the hunt. Less than two decades ago, a morning stroll along my usual stretch of the Chesapeake Bay would undoubtedly yield a pail full of treasures, including smoothly tumbled bottlenecks, colorful shards of historic pottery, and cobalt Bromo-Seltzer bottles, which were manufactured in Baltimore between the turn-of-the-century and the 1970s.

However, my fond memories of bountiful finds faded as I pondered the gradual decline of sea glass carried ashore with each passing year. Although a variety of circumstances have contributed to the slowly vanishing gems, legislation passed in the mid-to-late twentieth century to protect the environment is largely responsible. Without a doubt, the state of the environment takes precedence over a mere hobby, and regulations designed to cleanup the oceans have certainly benefited global ecology and marine life. Yet ever since the 1970s, when the centuries-long practice of discarding refuse into the world’s waterways came to a halt, discovering sea glass has become increasingly more challenging. Probably the most drastic threat to the hobby was the abrupt closing of popular dumpsites adjacent to rivers and beaches, which cutoff an endless supply of bottles and jars that would otherwise have been washed ashore decades later in the form of desirable, frosty finds.

Also responsible for the dwindling number of tumbled treasures, although to a much lesser degree than environmental regulations, was the widespread switch from glass to plastic. As Digger Odell, the notable bottle author and collector states, “Plastic was the undoing of the glass bottle” (bottlebooks.com). Some ecologists believe that Tupperware, introduced in 1946, paved the way for the plastic bottle. Yet manufacturing bottles from plastic was not affordable until the 1960s, when high-density Polyethylene (PET) became available, and soon thereafter, plastic became preferred over glass due to the lighter weight and lower cost. In fact, only ten years after switching to cans, Coca-Cola began to use plastic bottles in 1970.

According to Odell, “The invention of PET plastic forced both Owens of Illinois and Continental Can Company to join the movement to plastic.” Michael J. Owens, of the Owens Bottle Company founded in 1903, is credited with the invention of the automatic bottle machine (ABM), and avid collectors are likely to possess numerous remnants derived from Owens bottles and jars. Incidentally, the company, which was renamed the Owens Bottle Machine Corporation in 1907, became the Owens – Illinois Glass Company in 1929 due to a merger and continues to produce over half of the world’s glass containers.

Although advancements in bottle production have had little impact on the existing quantity of sea glass, the same cannot be said for the quality of found treasure. When the era of hand-blown bottles came to end during the late nineteenth century, bottles lost many of their charming qualities, characteristics that boast historical significance and often provide clues to effectively date and identify finds. To illustrate, bottle bases that possess a pontil mark – a brownish or reddish residue caused by the removal of a punty rod, a long tool that was used to hold the hot bottle while the lip was manually formed – date prior to 1858, while shards that feature hand-tooled lips are associated with bottles produced between 1870 and 1910. Other clues that enable collectors to identify found treasure include color, evidence of embossing, and bubbles present in the glass. Conversely, all bottles manufactured after the mid-1920s are machine-made and reflect little variation. Finds derived from such objects are limited to typical machine-produced shades of colorless, amber, and green, and possess thin even mold seams that rise all the way to the bottle’s lip.

A steady decline in shipwrecks has also played a small part in the dwindling quantity of treasure swirling through the waterways. Again, alike environmental regulations, the correlation between shipwrecks and the quantity of sea glass is not at all intended to minimize the vital importance of safer ship travel. Credit for the decline in shipwrecks largely belongs to advancements in navigational technology, improved ship design, and international maritime legislation.

Historically, more ships have wrecked due to running aground on rocks, sandbars, or coral reefs, so state-of-the-art improvements in navigation have particularly increased the safety of ships close to land. Yet these very developments have also had a small impact on the quantity of remnants that wash ashore. Because glass and pottery do not float, treasure that escapes into the sea during a wreck rarely travels far from the point of entry into the water. Thus, unless a shipwreck occurs near the coast, it is unlikely that any potential finds would be carried to shore. However, more relevant to the dwindling supply of sea glass is the fact that close to three million wrecks remain undiscovered on the ocean floor, many of which are trapped in the depths of the sea, so the challenge for beachcombers is not a lack of shipwrecked treasure, but the inability to access the treasure.

As my search along the bay came to an end, a glimpse into my not-quite-half-full pail proved to be a cruel reminder of the circumstances that plague collectors. Feeling defeated, I began to ascend the steep wooden stairway to the top of the cliffs, all the while striving to invent a silver lining. Suddenly, a second glance into my pail generated an unexpected epiphany: alike other pleasures enjoyed in moderation, such as the occasional indulgence in a banana split, perhaps the case of the slowly vanishing gems simply warrants further celebration of the “aha moments.” With a brighter outlook, I reached into the pail to inspect my finds. My fingers first encountered assorted seashells, followed by a few prized pieces of driftwood and a sprinkling of shark’s teeth, all of which I looked forward to incorporating into projects. Eventually, my sandy paws made their way to the bottom of the bucket and retrieved two handfuls of smoothly tumbled, frosty gems, and despite the ordinary colors, I relished in the moment.