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!


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” ( 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.

NASGA Meet the Member – Anne Marie Johnson – Sea Glass Treasures/Seaglassin

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview- Anne Marie Johnson, Sea Glass Treasures/Seaglassin

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

A: In 2006, my brother Romeo and I, and my sister Anita and her husband Willy attended the very first large venue of the North American Sea Glass Festival (NASGA) held in Santa Cruz, CA. We attended as exhibitors and met newfound friends and soon to become board members Charles Peden, Richard LaMotte, Teri Reed, Jennifer Reed, Lisa Hall, Sharon Umbaugh, Linda Jereb, Mary Beth Beuke and Cindy Kuhn. As a result, we began learning about the history of sea glass, its competition with artificial sea glass and its true value in its natural state. When Romeo learned that we could become members of the association, we took the next step of joining NASGA. Luckily, I’ve been able to continue my membership for 11 years and have attended every festival to date.

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

A: We were already avid collectors of sea glass on Prince Edward Island, Canada near an old dumpsite that held the treasures from 25 to 50 years ago and possibly even 100 years. It was also in an area known for many shipwrecks from the past. Sea Glass had been brought to our attention by our brother Richard who was living in New Brunswick and already had a sizable collection. Others in the family like Carmella and Yvette had collected it years ahead of this, especially the blue and rare colors. Yvette’s husband George would bring a cupful of blue pieces every now and then to my sister Carmella who was already creating nautical wreaths and ornaments.

In 2006, when I retired from being a principal’s secretary at our local north central Wisconsin school, I flew to Prince Edward Island once or twice a year to help my 90 + year old mother who needed 24/7 care. She had raised 14 children, and all of us tried to share whatever time we could to make her life pleasant. For respite care for myself, I would take in some beach therapy! The constant lapping of the waves, the wind, sun, rain and sometimes snow on my face, the sound of the seagulls overhead, the lighthouse in the distance and the time of solitude were just what I needed. Finding beautiful sea glass pieces along the way was just an added bonus!

Being a songwriter, I also used this time to write songs “in my head” and try to remember them till I got back to Mom’s to write them down. I did this as she sat patiently sorting my sea glass. She loved to hear and admire our special pieces and talk of our adventures and our upcoming entrepreneurship.

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: As my collection increased, so did my desire to use it creatively. I enlisted the help of my brother Richard’s wife Geri, who was so accommodating in helping me get started. Using the simplest design, I made my first pair of dangle earrings out of jewelry findings she sent to me. From that time on, my designs have taken on a life of their own, and I continue to be inspired to try something new. Wire wrapping is one of my favorites as each piece has a unique style due to its shape and size. But from the very start, I’ve always preferred simplicity. So I guess I could be called a true minimalist. My simple designs have been appreciated with positive reviews.

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: As many collectors find, we have many common colors of sea glass, but the rare colors come along less frequently. So there’s always a good reason to search. My most favorite pieces of sea glass are bottle stoppers and marbles. I’ve sold wire wrapped marbles but have never been able to part with my treasured bottle stoppers. Believe it or not, I found one of my favorite bottle stoppers (a black one) near the Navy Pier in Chicago while having met my daughter there for her research work. As an added bonus, we visited the Abegweit Ferry, which used to run between Cape Tormentine, NB and Port Borden, PEI, now docked and used by the Columbia Yacht Club, Chicago.

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

A: One of the favorite joys of my business is educating others on the history of sea glass, and the techniques of drilling sea glass. I offer jewelry tips if requested, as I man my booth at festivals. Hearing other’s sea glass stories are often enlightening as well. Over the years, my husband and I have traveled to Sea Glass Beach, Hawaii, and Monterey, Santa Cruz, Davenport and Fort Bragg in California. You get a different perspective in each location when talking to locals who have been sea – glassing in those areas for years. I also appreciate my husband’s enthusiasm and support with business ideas, traveling plans, computer technical advice, and drilling of sea glass, which have been invaluable.

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

A: NASGA benefits me in my marketing, as I use its policy of authenticity as my push for using no artificial sea glass. Talking about my NASGA participation and my membership in the “about page” of my website makes me look professional. I also appreciate donating to environmental causes through our organization. In 2016, I was on the NASGA communications committee, helping to organize the upcoming sea glass festival in Ocean City Maryland. This year I plan to attend the Wildwood Sea Glass Festival in Oct. 2018.

 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: Many of the NASGA festivals have also been an excuse for a mini family reunion. One year, we actually had 12 family members attend from PEI, Ontario, North Carolina, Washington DC and Wisconsin. My desire is to continue my business into my 80s and possibly 90s. It makes life interesting and meaningful and gives me a purpose! A memorable experience began at one of my NASGA booths when I sold a rare red sea glass pendant necklace to an appreciative customer. Little did I know that a year later, she would surprise me by traveling a thousand miles to Prince Edward Island to attend the Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival while sporting her rare red sea glass necklace. Believe me, it was a surprise I will always remember. Ellie Mercier, who was the speaker on PEI that year, was especially impressed and remembers it as well!

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

A: Other than sea glass collecting and making jewelry, my hobbies include swimming, walking, singing and songwriting. In 2002, I had some of my songs recorded professionally in a CD called “Songs of the Sea”. Most of my songs describe the beauty and warmth of the ocean, nature and family on Prince Edward Island. In one of them, I also describe my sea glass journey.

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: My business website,, currently has approximately 450 listings of my sea glass jewelry with more than 2600 sales. My upcoming events include the annual NASGA Sea Glass Festival in Wildwood, N.J, the Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival, the Erie and Buffalo Coastal Festivals, the Mabel Tainter Victorian Theatre in my hometown of Menomonie, Wisconsin, and the Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival on Prince Edward Island. This summer we will celebrate the Mermaid Tears 10th Anniversary Sea Glass Festival on July 28 – 29 with our very own Richard LaMotte as the guest speaker!

North American Sea Glass Festival 2017 lectures announced

North American Sea Glass Festival Lectures to be held Saturday, September 23, 2017
Wilmington, Delaware, Chase Center on the Riverfront

Fake Versus Genuine Sea Glass Across the Globe
Richard LaMotte and Mary McCarthy
11:30 a.m.

Buyer beware! With all the fake sea glass for sale online, how can shoppers tell the difference between fake and genuine sea glass?  This lecture by NASGA founder Richard LaMotte and the current NASGA Education Chair Mary McCarthy will describe how consumers and collectors can distinguish the difference between genuine sea glass and fake sea glass, including an exhibit of sample fake sea glass.

Richard LaMotte is the author of the award-winning book Pure SEA GLASS and a recent sequel titled The Lure of Sea Glass. He was a co-founder and past-president of the North American Sea Glass Association.  Richard works in Chestertown, Maryland and lives in southeast Delaware. He and his wife Nancy started a Chesapeake Bay sea glass collection for her jewelry business 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 forms found along the shoreline.

In 2006 Pure Sea Glass was awarded first place for non-fiction in Writer’s Digest 13th Annual 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.

Bestselling author Mary McCarthy is a lifelong journalist whose career includes a number of national and regional newspapers, magazines and websites. She lectures at the University of Maryland’s College of Journalism and is an instructor at the Writer’s Center.  Mary serves on the Board of Directors of the North American Sea Glass Association where she is also Chair of the Education Committee, speaking regularly at beachcombing conferences around the country. Mary is a mother of four on Maryland’s Eastern Shore where she enjoys kayaking and beachcombing. She is the founder of SeaCrate, an ocean-themed monthly subscription box service and is currently working on a beachcombing memoir.

Amazing Journeys: Glass Fishing Floats, from the East and the West
Dr. Deacon Ritterbush (aka Dr. Beachcomb)
1:30 p.m.

A life-long beachcomber, Dr. Deacon Ritterbush (aka Dr. Beachcomb) is an award winning author (A Beachcomber’s Odyssey) and founder of the annual International Beachcombing Conferences. She lectures throughout North America on sea glass, pottery shards and the archaeology of beachcombing. To learn more about her or about beachcombing, visit Dr. Beachcomb on Facebook, Instagram and

Her lecture at the 2017 NASGA Sea Glass Festival will focus on fishing floats from the east and west, including their practical and spiritual aspects as well as the amazing sea glass shards resulting from their breakage.


What Makes Sea Pottery Regionally Distinct?
Connor O’Brien
3:30 p.m.

Lifelong beachcomber and avid collector Connor O’Brien will discuss his experiences beachcombing and investigating sea worn artifacts that were collected during his international travels and correspondence with beachcombers around the world. The topic will be sea pottery, with an emphasis on factors that make sea pottery regionally distinct. Attendees will enjoy one of the largest showcases of sea pottery to date, handle exotic shards from around the world, as well as learn the skills required to identify and date sea pottery. Viewers should expect to walk away with an increased appreciation for the aesthetics and history of sea pottery as well as an eagerness to take a closer look at their own pottery finds.


Richard LaMotte to host lecture during North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland

Richard LaMotteRichard LaMotte will host a lecture “The Lure and Mysteries of Sea Glass” during the 11th Annual North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland on Saturday, August 27th.  Richard  will share his knowledge and years  of experience on sea glass with you, accompanied by Celia Pearson’s beautiful images from his two books, Pure Sea Glass and The Lure of Sea Glass.  Richard plans to provide insight into the art of identifying unique shards and review the basic science of how sea glass is formed.  Learn why certain colors are so much harder to find than others and explore the history of sea glass.  Questions are encouraged as this lecture will serve to be a valuable exchange of information between Richard and anyone seeking to learn more about these vanishing gems.

The Lure of Sea Glass

A little bit about Richard and his latest book, The Lure of Sea Glass: Our Connection to Nature’s Gems.

Richard LaMotte, author of The Lure of Sea Glass: Our Connection to Nature’s Gems, is America’s leading authority on sea glass.  His new book, which focuses primarily on the emotional side of sea glass, was prompted by the many stories and anecdotes he has heard over the years from people who shared with him how much sea glass collecting has meant in their lives.

Since the publication of his first book, LaMotte has hosted or attended hundreds of events for sea glass collectors all over the nation.  At these events, sea glass aficionados have had an opportunity to view others’ collections and learn more about the sea glass phenomenon.  He is a former president of the North American Sea Glass Association, which annually holds a national festival for sea glass collectors and those interested in learning more about the subject.

The new book is a sequel to his classic, Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature’s Vanishing Gems, which was published in 2004.  That book, which has become the definitive book on the subject, helped spark the increasingly popular pastime of collecting treasures from the sea.  It earned first place in non-fiction from the Writer’s Digest 13th Annual International Self-Published Book Awards.  Since 2004, his company, Sea Glass Publishing, L.L.C., also has produced calendars, note cards, identification cards and other products featuring photographs and information about sea glass.

LaMotte and his family have collected more than 40,000 pieces of sea glass, much of it from the Chesapeake Bay, near their home in Chestertown, Maryland.

LaMotte has been interviewed in leading newspapers including The Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the New York Times and the Boston Globe.  His work also has been featured in magazines including Coastal Living, Parade and Delaware Beach Life.

North American Sea Glass Festival, Ocean City, Maryland

Sea Glass Soiree  Friday, August 26, 2016   5pm – 9pm

Sea Glass Festival  Saturday, August 27, 2016  9am – 6pm