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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org