“Meet the NASGA Members”- Surfside Sea Glass, Denise Troy

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.

Denise Troy, Surfside Sea Glass from East Hampton, New York.

Hello, Denise,

Denise beachcombing for treasures
Denise beachcombing for treasures

How long have you been a member of NASGA?

I am relatively new to NASGA. I have been a member for 8 months now. But, I have admired the organization and attended almost every show since its inception.

Can you share your “personal sea glass story” (how and when you became interested in sea glass)?

I started making jewelry about 7 years ago. It began as a hobby as most do. After people expressed an interest in purchasing pieces, I opened an online shop and my business grew from there!

Please tell us about your particular craft and when you formed your business or began practicing your skill.  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?

Denise finds her first multi colored sea glass piece in
Denise finds her first multi colored sea glass piece in

I am an avid collector still to this day – to the extent that most of my vacations involved locations where I can collect sea glass. Recently, I was visiting a friend in the Arizona desert after participating in a sea glass festival in California and found myself searching the sand for sea glass! Yikes, After that, I decided a trip to the mountains might be the best idea for my next trip to clear my head – just for a little while anyway 🙂

 

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? 

Denise found this yellow sea glass marble in Puerto Rico...quite a find!
Denise found this yellow sea glass marble in Puerto Rico…quite a find!

I have private collections from England, California and Puerto Rico. Some pieces, I just cannot part with. Some pieces, I make into jewelry and feel sad when they sell. I have to tell myself that they are “going to a good home”. And, I am sure they are. My customers are amazing people.

 

 

 

 

How has your craft evolved over time ?

Creating is always a work in progress no matter which craft it is applied to. I keep a sketch pad of ideas that come to me that I have yet to get to. I do not think I will ever complete that pad, but I think that is a good thing.

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)?

I have not had the honor to be involved on the organizational level yet.

How has your membership in NASGA benefited you professionally and/or personally?

The greatest benefit of being a NASGA member thus far is the credibility it gives my work. We all know what issues man-made sea glass has created in recent years. I love the fact that I work with other artisans who have the same values as I do in regard to the integrity of the sea glass.

Puerto Rico sea glass hunting
Puerto Rico sea glass hunting

Is there a particular festival that stands out as your favorite, and can you a share a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival?

Cape Cod was my favorite NASGA festival to date. I took a dear friend who knew nothing about sea glass despite the fact that she lived in Puerto Rico. She became a fan that weekend. And, we had a blast together!

English sea glass collection
English sea glass collection

 

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?

I was a ballet/modern dancer in my “previous life” so I like to take a class here and there and attend performances. In the future, I am hoping to get in a few cooking classes with my son.

 

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?

I am developing a blog about all things sea glass which can reached through my site – surfsideseaglass.com . I can be contacted through that site or at surfsideseaglass@yahoo.com .

What is your favorite beachcombing find?

Despite the fact that Bermuda is not known for its jewelry-grade sea glass, my favorite piece came from that lovely island. I was literally sifting through a 2 foot pile of sea glass one day many years ago, and came across the most amazing red! It was very old, thick and tumbled – about the size of a quarter. It was love at first sight. That is one piece I would never part with.

How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission? 

I would like to think that I strengthen the NASGA mission by helping to educate people about the differences between genuine sea glass and man-made. I hope to set an example by collecting in a responsible way as well.

“Meet the NASGA Members”- A Day at the Beach, Jane Claire McHenry

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.

Jane Claire McHenry, A Day at the Beach, from Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

Hello, Jane Claire

How long have you been a member of NASGA?

I have been a member of NASGA for 6 years now, since 2010 when I participated in my first NASGA Festival in Cape Cod.

Jane  Claire McHenry, A Day at the Beach
Jane Claire McHenry,                           A Day at the Beach

Can you share your “personal sea glass story” (how and when you became interested in sea glass)?

Wow! I’d have to go back a long way to remember when I first became interested in sea glass. It would have to be when I was 5 or 6 years old spending summer weeks with my grandparents in Wareham, Mass., near the Cape Cod Canal. My grandmother collected sea glass on her many beach walks and, of course, like all early sea glass collectors she had them displayed in a big vase in her sunniest kitchen window. I loved to play with the sea glass, look at all the beautiful colors and help add to her collection. Sure wish I knew what happened to that sea glass!

Please tell us about your particular craft and when you formed your business or began practicing your skill.

Jane's collection of sea glass displayed beautifully in an abalone shell
Jane’s collection of sea glass displayed beautifully in an abalone shell

My sea glass business, A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry, was formed in 2009 after I retired from my publishing job of 25+ years. Even while I was still working I always dreamed of having my own business. So when I considered what kind of business to begin as my next “career” I remembered the advice I was always given, “explore your passion and do what you love to do.”

My husband and I were already avid beach combers and during our many island vacations had started our own sea glass collection. After working with the Center for Women and Enterprise in Providence to develop a business plan, “A Day at the Beach Sea Glass Jewelry” was born. After much trial and error, lots of jewelry classes and a long traverse along an even longer learning curve, we began selling our designs in early 2009, always amazed and a little thrilled when people actually purchased them!

Since then we have exhibited at over 100 Juried Art Shows, have many happy, regular wholesale customers and a successful online jewelry boutique. After being in business for 7 years I can say that one of the most rewarding takeaways has been our good fortune to meet wonderful people who we never would have met if not for the sea glass connection. Some of these people have become very close friends and we treasure them!

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?

Jane searching for Sea Glass Galway, Ireland
Jane searching for Sea Glass Galway, Ireland

Yes, we are still avid sea glass collectors and our “vacations” inevitably revolve around sea glass hunting. Even during our trip to Ireland last summer we were looking for glass during brief stops in small fishing villages. When we had a little extra time in Galway we finally found a beach where we were able to collect and we’re looking forward to finding more this year in Northern Ireland! I would love to travel to Spain, Sicily, Scotland, England, Greece and Japan to find sea glass, but I haven’t told my husband yet!

We are always interested in sea glass even if we can’t use it for our jewelry. We like to pass along what we don’t use to someone who may find a use for it! Favorite colors? Blues, aqua, sea foams. For me, personally, I am terribly fond of sea foam, one of the most underrated and beautiful sea glass colors. Favorite type of sea glass? A toss-up between bottle stoppers and marbles.

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? 

Jane's collection of pastel sea glass
Jane’s collection of pastel sea glass

We have a nice collection of our best beach finds displayed in a glass top table that my husband made for me for one of our wedding anniversaries. Some of our favorite pieces displayed are a collection of sea glass hearts, bottle stoppers, marbles and buttons.

We also have glass vases filled with small pieces of every sea glass color displayed in our living room windows, small sea glass filled vases on the mantle, a beautiful sea glass photo frame (made by my friend, Paula Fedele and NASGA Member, All About Sea Glass), two sea glass windows made by my friend, Robin Pierson.  Our children and grandchildren have already “reserved” certain collections so I don’t think we have to worry about parting with them as we are passing them on when we pass on!

How has your craft evolved over time ?

Thank goodness, our skills have improved over time. Experience is the ultimate teacher. I am the type of person who learns from my mistakes and sometimes I make the same mistake more than once. What I have also learned is to improve, you have to have the desire to expand your skills and your horizons. You can’t be complacent and comfortable. You always have to be slightly uncomfortable and that pushes you to be better, more careful, more meticulous. Another important lesson, one of the most difficult for me, is that everything takes longer than you think it will. So if you want to start a business, especially a sea glass business, be patient and plan ahead but above all be patient.

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)?

I have yet to have the opportunity to be active in the association but have offered my help with projects in the past and hope to be able to contribute assistance in the future.

How has your membership in NASGA benefited you professionally and/or personally?

Credibility: When you are a member of NASGA you agree to make the commitment to sell items that are designed with authentic sea glass. If you are in this business, credibility is key.

When you are selling real, beach found sea glass it has intrinsic value that cannot be replicated, especially by something that is man-made or altered to mimic its appearance. Real, surf- tumbled sea glass is 20-30+ years old, is not available in abundance and is not available in every color of the rainbow. The value of real sea glass is its story, its unique shape and color, its history and the effort required to find it.

When we meet people and talk about sea glass we always tell them that we are members of the NASGA and that we, and all NASGA members, pledge to sell only authentic sea glass. Most of the time our audience is truly impressed that a national organization dedicated to educating people about sea glass even exists!

 Friendships: We feel fortunate to have developed so many wonderful friendships through our NASGA Membership and Festival participation. I am in awe of the talent that is displayed at the Festivals and always impressed by how much camaraderie and support there is among participants. I consider this one of the best benefits of a NASGA membership.

Is there a particular festival that stands out as your favorite, and can you a share a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival?

I would have to say that my most memorable festival was my very first one in Hyannis on Cape Cod. I remember being very nervous before the doors opened because I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t think I was ready. Then I heard Roxann’s announcement countdown to the doors opening “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and I thought I would pass out! I did survive, and have survived five festivals since and look forward to  NASGA Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City Maryland, August 29 and 30th, 2015. But Roxann, can you dispense with the countdown? (Just kidding!)

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?

Oh my. Where would I begin? I am sure that most of my friends and family consider sea glass collecting and jewelry design as a hobby when it is my full time job with no time for hobbies! If I had to give it up for some reason I would improve my photography and writing skills. I’d love to write a children’s book about sea glass and life lessons.  Maybe (just maybe) I’d even travel to places where there isn’t a chance to find sea glass.

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?

I would love to hear from readers who are interested in sea glass and sea glass jewelry. I have an online sea glass jewelry boutique, www.seaglassjewelrybyjane.com. I am also on Facebook  and Pinterest  and welcome emails at shopping@seaglassjewelrybyjane.com

What is your favorite beachcombing find?

Sea glass bottle stopper found by  Jane's Grandaughter in Bermuda
Sea glass bottle stopper found by Jane’s Grandaughter in Bermuda

You know, years ago I found a large, thick piece of pink sea glass in Bermuda. I saw it on the beach while I was still on the street walking towards it. I was so afraid someone else was going to arrive at the beach and pick it up!   But I’ll have to say that my favorite find is actually my granddaughter’s favorite find (so far), also in Bermuda! She and my husband were snorkeling right along the water line and she found a beautiful aqua, flawless bottle stopper. She was so proud and I was so happy to think that this could be the beginning of a new generation of sea glass hunters.

How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission? 

By always trying to educate the public about the value of real sea glass; about what it is, how it is formed, where it is found, why some pieces are priced more than others and about the differences between real sea glass and artificial sea glass. The members of NASGA are like an Army, spreading the word about this wonderful creation of man and nature.

A collectors Interview – Lisa Crabtree – Florida

l&c-2

Credited to fate (and possibly, in part to a “Peace, Love, and Sandy Feet” tee shirt I wore while boarding a bus in St. George), I was extremely fortunate to cross paths with Lisa Crabtree, our featured collector in this issue of Shorelines. A Florida resident with a deep passion for sea glass, Lisa introduced me to some prime collecting sites in Bermuda, and in turn, I introduced her to NASGA!
By Ellie Mercier, member,
North American Sea Glass Assocation

 

NASGA: Hello again Lisa! First, thank you for teaching me that a profitable beachcombing trip is not necessarily limited to returning home with an abundance of gems from the sea, yet if Mother Nature’s timing is especially ideal, an unexpected encounter with a fellow collector could blossom into a meaningful new friendship! Can you share the circumstances surrounding your discovery of sea glass?  I was fortunate to have met the “right person” at the “right time.” My boys had just moved out of the house, and I was experiencing the empty nest syndrome and desperately needed a hobby after work. One day, a newly hired coworker had on a piece of sea glass jewelry, and I had never seen anything so beautiful that wasn’t an actual gemstone. My co-worker shared that her boyfriend had found the shard while walking on our local beach, and he was kind enough to share his knowledge of how to find these gorgeous gems with me. Once I found my first piece, I was hooked. It was “hello new hobby,” and “bye-bye empty nest syndrome!”

 

green sea glass
Special Green sea glass

NASGA: Since beachcombing is an ideal form of therapy for those experiencing the “empty nest syndrome,” I have a strong suspicion that the timing of your newfound hobby was not a coincidence! Do you have a special piece you can share with us?   I actually have several favorites, but the one that stands out is a Kelley-green patterned piece that I found when my oldest and dearest friend, who was intent on learning how to hunt for sea glass, came into town for a quick visit. Despite the fact that the weather on this particular day happened to be rainy and windy and the tide was exceptionally high with rough surf, I was optimistic we would find a piece in the shade of green that my friend desired. Still empty handed as the end of our walk neared, a strong wave rolled in, and as I looked down at the edge of the surf, I eyed a green piece and screamed out, “Green!” However, when I dove in to grab it, I missed, and my friend, who had been watching me intently, followed the piece and was able to scoop it up. Ironically, not only was the sea glass in the shade of green she had hoped for but it was a beautifully tumbled and patterned piece. I believe that my girlfriend’s mother was our “sea glass angel” that day and sent the beautiful gem our way from heaven. It remains the only patterned piece I’ve spotted on my local beach and was an amazing first find for my girlfriend.

NASGA: What is your definition of an “ideal” find?   My absolute favorite color is turquoise. Although the hue is extremely uncommon, particularly in Florida, I do have one small piece of turquoise sea glass in my collection that I found locally.

NASGA: Is there a specific beach that you regularly frequent or do you generally comb in various areas?   I primarily search along Florida’s central east coast beaches and have been very lucky to find an array of sea glass in this region, including rare shades of black and yellow (as well as turquoise, of course)! I must comment that it requires a sharp eye to locate these beauties. Outside of Florida, I have combed on the Jersey shore and have had the opportunity to hunt in Bermuda twice last year (and my husband and I just made plans to return to Bermuda over the summer for a third visit)!

NASGA: Do you generally beachcomb alone, or do you have any designated “partners in crime” who accompany you on searches?   I comb with my husband the majority of the time, but lately, the activity has become a family affair. My youngest son, who never particularly enjoyed the beach, is now combing with us on a weekly basis. It’s the thrill of the hunt that brings us all together.

 NASGA: In addition to sea glass, do you scout the beaches for other nautical treasures?   My husband and I love to collect driftwood, buoys, and old lobster traps, many of which we find in the Keys. Some of these remnants have been repurposed into picture frames and yard art. One cool find was a piece of driftwood shaped like a whale.

NASGA: Aside from the obvious payoff of discovering nautical treasure, are there other benefits of the hobby that you revel in?   I revel in the simple beauty of the beach and everything it has to offer; it allows me to find peace, rejuvenate my soul, and occasionally, to find myself after getting lost from time to time in the daily shuffle of life.

NASGA: Your words of wisdom in response to the previous question beautifully capture some of the key advantages of the pastime! Do you have a memorable beachcombing experience you can share with us?   It would have to be the time I observed three baby sea turtles making their way to the ocean. If it were not for my new found love of beachcombing, I never would have witnessed this once-in-a-lifetime event since I used to spend my days ashore with my behind planted in a beach chair!

 NASGA: You mentioned previously that you create picture frames and yard art with your beach finds. Do you incorporate your discoveries into other projects and/or home décor as well?   This hobby has opened up many new doors for me and has especially allowed me to discover a creative side to myself that I never knew existed; I couldn’t be any happier. Most of my collected remnants are reserved for jewelry projects and shadow box art (yet it can be difficult to part with my creations since I develop a connection with each piece of sea glass I bring home). I also enjoy dividing my finds by color and displaying them in glass jars on windowsills throughout my home. Currently, my husband is working on a sea turtle mosaic with his Bermudan finds, so I am anxiously awaiting to see the finished project adorned on one of our walls!

NASGA: What are some of the beachcombing destinations included on your “bucket list”?   Many sea glass destinations remain on my “bucket list,” and I hope to cross them all off in this lifetime, but the beaches of Spain (where, as my intuition tells me, I would discover a nice sized shard of turquoise) absolutely top the list.

NASGA: Aside from collecting, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?  Before I discovered sea glass hunting, I enjoyed metal detecting, and although I never found anything of substantial monetary value, I did find an old matchbox helicopter buried in my yard that belonged to my son some twenty years earlier. Similar to sea glassing, those “thrill of the hunt” hobbies are what intrigue me the most. Every piece of found treasure tells a story.

NASGA: Many collectors would likely agree that the history associated with found remnants is certainly one of the main attractions of the pastime. To illustrate, for the past two decades, my Father and I have frequently combed along a specific section of the Chesapeake Bay, and every now and then, we discover a tiny, square, blue or maroon ceramic tile; not only do we continue to speculate about the original source of these tiles, but each time I happen to find such a specimen when combing alone, I immediately think about my Father and break into a smile, and vice versa. It is truly fascinating that a small, seemingly trivial, tangible object could represent a link to the past as well as initiate a connection between two individuals. Do you have any parting thoughts, or perhaps a helpful tip for fellow collectors?    Probably the most valuable advice is that I am often successful in finding rare shades of sea glass along the highest wrack line closest to the dunes, as some of the treasures that lay buried in the “sands of time” are eventually unearthed during high storm tides.

NASGA: Lisa, thank you for entertaining the sea glass community with your personal stories and wisdom and for pointing out that the pastime has allowed you to overcome the “Empty Nest Syndrome,’ which effectively demonstrates the intense passion and inspiration for the hobby shared by many collectors. And as always, “Peace, Love and Sandy Feet!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Glass Insulators: Intriguing, Illustrious Finds

The History surrounding Sea Glass Insulators: Intriguing, Illustrious Finds
By Ellie Mercier, member North American Sea Glass Association

Discovering remnants of historical significance is certainly one of the most fascinating thrills of the hunt, and uncovering finds boasting the romantic charm of those derived from the bygone era of insulators is no exception.

Blue insulator
Blue insulator

The desirable attributes of insulators are not limited to beauty and nostalgic appeal, but the invention of these sought after collectibles was integral to the advancement of technology. During the nineteenth century, hopes for a promising future following the discovery of the telegraph began to fade when it became apparent that society lacked a viable means to transport electricity. However, attributed to the debut of the insulator in 1844, public faith in the innovative technology was soon restored. Originally produced from glass, in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, insulators were installed on telegraph lines (and eventually, on telephone and power lines) to separate the wires from the tall wooden poles used to secure the lines in the air. Their purpose was to keep the wires isolated to allow electricity to pass through without interference. As technology progressed, particularly as the railroad expanded and electricity was required to operate train signals at stations throughout the nation, the demand for insulators skyrocketed, and hundreds of millions were manufactured between 1875 and 1930.

aqua insulator - a common color
aqua insulator – a common color

Alike bottles (and sea glass remnants), the majority of insulators were either colorless (clear) or produced in the shade of aqua (due to the fact that glass possesses a green tint in its natural state); however, glass insulators were fabricated in many other colors as well, including amber, cobalt, darker greens, and purple. Around the turn of the century, the onset of higher-voltage electric wires prompted a demand for ceramic insulators, of which offered more protection for wires than their glass counterparts. Ceramic insulators were also manufactured in multiple hues, ranging from yellows and greens to blues and browns. In addition, factories tested insulators of various shapes and sizes to develop models that would efficiently hold the electrical wires in place and ensure the wires remained insulated.

After an entire century of active production, the demand for insulators significantly declined as utility and electric companies began to install wires underground, and by the 1960’s, it was common to observe retired insulators, in an array of colors and styles, strewn on the ground in the vicinity of railroad tracks and construction sites. Not surprisingly, individuals began to seek out the charming, but no longer practical objects, prompting a flurry of passion for insulators that would ultimately inspire a generation of collectors and continue into the twenty-first century. In fact, the 1960’s onset of  “insulator fever” was so intense that by the end of the decade, pioneers of the hobby had founded The Crown Jewels of the Wire, the first national insulator magazine, and another major milestone transpired in 1973, with the establishment of the National Insulator Association.

Blue insulator sea glass - photo by Lisa Crabtree
Blue insulator sea glass –
photo credit Lisa Crabtree

 

As enthusiasm for the hobby continued into the 1990’s, the value of insulators skyrocketed, and it wasn’t unusual for rare specimens to fetch thousands of dollars at auction houses. For the most part, insulators manufactured between 1885 and 1960 are considered collectible, yet those produced prior to the turn of the century are the most desirable. Generally, collectors determine the values of insulators based on the same characteristics used to rate sea glass and bottle finds, including color, shape, condition, and the presence of, or lack of embossing. Since they were produced in 460 shapes, 2800 different embossing patterns, and almost 9000 color combinations, it often takes time to become familiar with the multiple varieties of insulators. Therefore, insulator price guides are an extremely helpful resource for novice and experienced collectors alike. The guides are not only ideal for identifying manufacturer marks and style numbers commonly embossed on insulators, yet they feature sections dedicated to topics such as foreign produced insulators, the countless styles of insulators (IE: pin type and non-pin type), and favored collectibles, including the beloved ‘Mickey Mouse” shape and highly prized examples comprised of carnival glass.

Insulator sea glass - photo by Lisa Crabtree
Insulator sea glass – photo by Lisa Crabtree

Today, support for the pastime remains strong, as reflected by the numerous clubs and shows that exist around the globe in celebration of the vintage beauties. In addition, hobbyists have access to dozens of insulator-related websites. Two particularly notable online presences include www.nia.org, hosted by the National Insulator Association, and www.insulators.info, a site referred to as “Insulator Collectors on the Net,” which has a following of 1500 members.

In addition to history buffs and railroad enthusiasts, it’s common to encounter sea glass and bottle collectors at insulator shows due to the fact that the pastimes share a direct connection to the history of glass manufacturing and the timeline of bottle production. Whether admiring a lustrous insulator made from carnival glass or discovering the smoothly tumbled remains of a cobalt insulator ashore, the experience is bound to arouse nostalgia for the romantic charm of an earlier