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.

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, seaglassin.etsy.com, 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!

Beachcombing Stoneware Sea Pottery

by Connor O’Brien

The majority of sea glass originates from mass produced utilitarian vessels, while tableware and art glass are less common sources. The same can be said about sea pottery. Yet due to the immense variety of ceramics, identifying sea worn fragments can be particularly challenging. A good way to start is by classifying shards into one of three categories: earthenware, stoneware, or porcelain. Ceramics are grouped into these categories based on the density and firing temperature of the clay. The clay mixture and body of a ceramic is referred to as paste, whereas the surface coating is known as glaze. Grouping ceramics by paste type is the first step in identifying the origin of a shard, and learning to distinguish different pastes and glazes is crucial to making accurate identifications. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. A small representation of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. All three types are variable in color, appearance, and texture, so the best way to identify them is to learn the feeling of the differences simply by handling them.
Top row: Red earthenware fragments, brick and terracotta. The color of earthenware can range from cream white to red, dark gray or tan, depending on minerals in the clay used. It is distinguished from stoneware and porcelain by its relatively low firing temperature, porous and less dense paste.
Middle row: stoneware jug fragments. Stoneware is nonporous, hard and compact, fine textured but not glassy like porcelain. It requires a medium to high firing temperature but does not need glaze to be watertight. However stoneware is often glazed with salt or decorative slip glazes. Slip glazes are glazes comprised of clay in water, applied by dipping or washing the ceramic vessel.
Bottom row: Porcelain fragments distinguishable by the very hard dense body, vitreous nature and white color. Porcelain can be glazed and decorated in a variety of ways.

Investigating traditional and regionally relevant ceramics is a great place to start when studying sea pottery. Understanding the history of production is also very helpful when it comes to identifying and dating shards. For beachcombers in North America, especially those on the shores of the Great Lakes and east coast, stoneware is a common source of sea pottery because it was once popular and locally produced. With basic knowledge of vessel shapes and glaze types it is possible to know the origins of these stoneware fragments, despite the fact that they are highly altered from their original form. An immense variety of products were available in stoneware, the most common being jugs and pots. Learning to recognize the characteristics of these forms is another important part of identifying sea pottery. (Figures 2-5)

Figure 2. Stoneware sea pottery with distinct features.
Top Row: Decorative cobalt glaze applied to an incised design. Decorative cobalt glaze applied with a sponge, known as spongeware. Decorative cobalt glaze applied to a sculpted pattern. Decorative dot band applied with a rolling tool.
Middle Row: Slip glazed shard exhibiting pop out, a defect formed during the firing process. Slip glazed shard from a jug neck, the curve of the neck influences how the glaze is weathered. Slip glazed shard with concentric lines, small surface ripples left by the potter influence the exposure of glaze to abrasive forces.
Bottom Row: Dark colored Albany type slip glaze, the use of this glaze can date shards as early as 1860. Boarder between Albany type and Bristol type glazes, use of both glaze types dates shards before 1915. Light colored Bristol type glaze, use on both the interior and exterior dates shards after 1915. Note that these dates are approximate generalizations not strict limits.

 

Figure 3. Stoneware jugs are arguably the most common source of stoneware sea pottery. These containers were made in many capacities and styles, and used for storing and selling liquids in bulk; they commonly held molasses, honey, syrup, vinegar, liquor, cooking wine, and chemicals. Similar to glass bottles, stoneware jugs have many features that can provide identifying information, such as the handle, shoulder, closure, and base. One jug may produce dozens or even hundreds of sea pottery shards, and a single shard can be used to make an accurate identification. Stoneware shards can also be confidently matched by paying close attention to paste and glaze. The shards pictured here undoubtedly originate from the same jug. Although found at different times, each occurred in the same area of the beach and have a distinct feel and appearance that suggests a shared origin.

 

Figure 4. The mark of a twisted wire pulled in a loop in order to cut the vessel from the wheel. Subtle markings such as this can be used as clues to gain information about the shards origins, as well as the processes used to create it.

 

Figure 5: Squeezed clay lines resulting from clay being compressed into a mold, an indication that the original vessel of this shard was made by mold.

Stoneware ceramics in North America began with immigrants from Germany, England, and France who brought the craft over seas in the 17th and 18th centuries. Colonists continued to import English and German stoneware well into the 19th century, yet over many generations of master and apprentice, ceramic artisans blended old world techniques and styles to develop a distinctively American variety of stoneware. The earliest American stoneware was made from scratch in small batches and distributed locally. These ceramics were often plainly salt glazed, crudely shaped, and occasionally decorated with cobalt motifs. The nature of ceramics allowed for artistic expression, stoneware creations were individually handmade and often intentionally embellished with a personal touch. For these reasons collectors regard 17th and 18th century American stoneware as a folk art. The uniqueness and relative scarcity of these vessels make them a rare source of sea pottery that is difficult to trace. (Figure 6)

Figure 6. The appearance of plain salt glazing is often compared to the texture of an orange peal. The color of salt glazing is variable but commonly brown or gray. Plain salt glazing typically dates shards prior to the 20th century. This shard originates from a salt glazed ceramic water pipe, which was a common form of plumbing and drainage throughout the 19th century.

Potters’ firms and their networks grew alongside the development and expansion of the United States. By the 19th century utilitarian stoneware was an essential part of everyday life and potteries were established all across the country. Potters were able to obtain better and more consistent materials, improve their shaping techniques, as well as distribute their wares beyond local communities. These advancements, paired with the increasing demand for American stoneware, lead to a transition from small family businesses to unified potters’ firms. Individuals who specialized in specific tasks of an assembly line began to replace the tradition of master and apprentice. By the turn of the 19th century, the demands for American stoneware were met by the mass production of simple and uniformly slip glazed vessels commonly known today as crocks or crockery. (Figure 7)

Figure 7. Stoneware vessels typical of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Markings such as words, stamps, and capacity numbers can be used to help make precise identifications. Drips from the slip glazing process are indicative of the dipping used to apply the glaze. The combination of Albany type interior and upper exterior with Bristol type on the bottom exterior was a fashionable design that declined in popularity after 1915.

The quantity and consistency of mass produced vessels is what makes them common and identifiable. Glaze type can be used to date stoneware to a relative era (Figure 2). The iconic two-toned stoneware with brown Albany type glaze on top and white Bristol type glaze on the bottom began to replace plain salt glazed stoneware during the mid 19th and early 20th century. By the 1920’s, stoneware glazed entirely in white Bristol glaze was favored for the sanitary appearance and easy to clean surface. The great depression effectively ended the era of American stoneware, though it has been continually produced, it can be assumed that most fragments of stoneware sea pottery are near or over a century old. With basic knowledge of these ceramics even ambiguous shards are relatively identifiable. When dating sea found shards, the context and history of the beach is equally important as the history of the fragment and may help provide a more accurate identification. A perfect way to display these beachcombed shards is to store them in a stoneware vessel, such as an open container. (Figure 8)

Figure 8. A perfect way to display stoneware sea pottery is to store it inside a stoneware container. Adding a false bottom using cardboard and covering it with a thin layer of shards is an easy way to make an attractive display. Stoneware pots come in many forms and sizes and also make a good depository for storing shards in bulk.

 

Works Cited: Greer, Georgeanna H., Chris Williams, and Tina Griesenbeck. American Stonewares: The Art and Craft of Utilitarian Potters. Exton: Schifftler, 1981. Print.

Connor O’Brien lives in Maine and is a college student and an avid sea glass and sea pottery collector.   http://www.seaglasssassociation.org

Mary McCarthy to host lecture during North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland

Mary McCarthyMary McCarthy will host a lecture “Sea Glass Marbles From Around the Globe” during the 11th Annual North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland on Saturday, August 27th.  Mary will share her knowledge and years of experience on sea glass collecting with you, particularly marbles along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.  Sea marbles wash up on beaches around the world. Why? Were they used as ballast for ships? Did they come from the insides of bottles at bars? Or were most simply used as children’s toys, ending up in the waves after many years on beaches at play? This lecture will explore the origins and history of the different types of marbles that wash up on shorelines, and include a display of sea marbles from over 20 countries and waterways from around the globe.

Mary McCarthy is a bestselling author and lifelong journalist. Currently Senior Editor forSpliceToday.com, her writing career includes Salon.com, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, editorial positions at regional magazines and newspaper humor columns.  She has blogged for Katie Couric and appeared on The Today Show.  She is an Adjunct Instructor for American University and an instructor for The Writer’s Center in Washington, D.C.

Mary started sea glass hunting when she moved to Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 2001. She often writes on sea glass related topics. She has spoken at the International Beachcombing Conference and Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center Sea Glass Conference, and joined NASGA this year as a commercial member. You can follow her sea glass finds in real time online at Instagram.com/marytmccarthy.

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

www.seaglassassociation.org