Unusual Finds Along Chesapeake Bay

By Sharon Brubaker

Long, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the skies were pierced with cries of enormous birds, something was happening geologically just below the water. Unusual formations in the silt and mud began to take shape that would, millions of years later, reveal themselves and wash up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. These “formations,” resembling hollow rock balls, tubes, ocarinas, and more avant-garde shapes, are created from sand, clay, and iron oxide.DSC_0555.jpgWhen my family and I first moved to the shores of the upper Chesapeake and roamed the beaches in search of beach glass, we also began to find peculiar, round, metal-like objects.  We felt certain they were a type of ammunition for guns used during the Revolutionary War because George Washington had munitions created in the Principio Iron Works just a heron’s flight across the bay, near the port of Charlestown.

Being new to the area and excited to show our finds to our neighbors, our newly found friends chuckled and told us that the strange formations were called ‘pop rocks,” small hollow stones of which our neighbors would toss into beach fires and watch them explode. Another neighbor told us that the formations (are) derived from ‘Indian paint pots” and that Native American tribes used the iron oxide inside the stones to paint their faces. But it was not until we met another neighbor, and now long-time friend, Alice Lundgren, that the mystery was solved. The formations, in all their various shapes, are known as “concretions.”

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Alice has a collection of well over a thousand concretions ranging in size from a quarter of an inch to about twelve inches, all of which she has gathered from the bay. Alice was a true inspiration to my family and me, and we soon joined forces to not only hunt for sea glass, but to eagerly search for concretions. These unusual rock formations date back to the late Cretaceous and Eocene eras.  Even more fascinating than the “pop rocks” are tubular rocks. The tubular concretions are iron oxide formations that reflect a pipe-like structure.

When we go exploring along our nearby beach, Alice, a seasoned concretion seeker, has the ability to spot the stone tubes instantly, yet the rest of us are not so fortunate, as the finds appear camouflaged to the untrained eye. Some of the concretions boast unique shapes, such as small cups, snowmen, and acorns while the tubular concretions often resemble coral, branches, and even small musical pipes (although they do not carry a tune))! Similar to sea glass, each concretion seems to carry its own story and personality.

Having been formed millions of years ago from sedimentary rock, concretions have been significant and mystical to many cultures. Some cultures believe them to be holy stones while other cultures believe the stones bring luck, or perhaps represent the divine feminine. However, theories of modern science suggest the concretions are fossils or meteorites.

As beachcombers, we are treasure-hunters.  We are always seeking the next great find. The Shard of the Year Contest, which is one of the highlights of the North American Sea Glass Association’s annual Festival, would be ideal opportunity to view both natural and manmade treasures (this year’s North American Sea Glass Festival will be held in Wildwood, New Jersey on October 27 – 28).

*Many thanks to Alice Lundgren for sharing her collection of concretions, and to Meredith Keating and Brandon Boas for their photography.

 

 

NASGA Meet the Member – Suzanne Hunter – The Sea Glass Grotto

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview – Suzanne Hunter – The Sea Glass Grotto

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

   A:   I heard about NASGA through it’s current President, Kim Hannon, when I participated in one of her events. I have been a member for 2 years as The Sea Glass Grotto.

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

A:   I started collecting with My grandmother, in North Wildwood New Jersey, in the 1970’s. Our nightly ritual when we were visiting would be to take stale bread to the beach after dinner to feed the birds, and find 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:  I making wire Jewelry with telephone wire from my father when I was a child, I would wrap stones, and flowers, and make paper beads. I developed my own Silver Smithing skills with the help of many books and advice of other artists, but I am primarily self taught. Learning is a never ending journey.

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 am a collector, and I have many pieces I will never part with, those are special to me because I treasure the memories of my childhood and my grandparents that they evoke. I keep them stashed away in my jewelry box.

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

A:   The biggest joy and challenge is sharing the difference between real and artificial Sea Glass. It is wonderful to be able to educate people on the differences while also sharing memories, or stories, I feel like beachcombing as a whole is a very personal journey for each individual and I hear many stories about those adventures.

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

A:   I have the backing of a wonderful organization who stands behind it’s artists as being genuine sea glass and handcrafted wares.

 Seafoam Heart setQ: 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 am extremely excited about this year’s festival since it is in my home county. Wildwood, and Cape May County are absolutely wonderful in the fall, with a wide variety of events, wonder dining and fabulous weather, and I am looking forward to “hosting” my fellow NASGA members and sharing some of my favorites!

 

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

A:   Being a mom, most of my favorite hobbies revolve around my kids, but as a family we enjoy beach time, camping and cooking. We are currently in the planning stages of a lengthy cross country trip in our Winnebago.

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 am not as tech savvy as I wish I was so the easiest platforms for me are on Facebook The Sea Glass Grotto and Instagram.

NASGA Meet the Member – Bruce & Gail Barton – Sea Glass Designs

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.

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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. 

Soldering area

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 bbarton@sea-glass-designs.com

NASGA Meet the Member – Don Bernard – Ptowntreasures

NASGA’s Meet the Member Interview – Don Bernard – PTownTreasures

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

   A:  I found about NASGA , in 2008, while researching articles about sea glass and joined in 2017 as a Commercial Member as Ptowntreasures.

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

DSC09388A:  I had a jar of beach stones in my office when a co-worker saw it and asked why not sea glass. She explained what it was and where I could find it on the beach. Our next vacation turned into a beach glass expedition with the entire family involved. From then on finding beach glass became an obsession that we all still enjoy and have spread that thrill to several friends. It never gets boring and we have a very large collection of glass and pottery collected from the beaches of Cape Cod.

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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:  In 2013 our sea glass collection was growing larger with jars and containers full of glass and pottery. My daughter suggested I might look into making jewelry. I had no idea what was involved but thought it might make an interesting hobby, having retired in 2009 after 40 years as an Electronics Engineer. Further research led me to the Worcester MA Center for Crafts and their jewelry fabrication courses with a concentration on metals, i.e., silver, copper, brass. I took all three of the 6 week courses and started making jewelry. We were instructed in soldering, forming metals, making of different jewelry items, hand tools, finishing and polishing. That was in 2013, since then I have set up two studios, one in North Truro MA and the other in my home in Uxbridge MA. My daughter started to take some pieces to work and sold them. I was soon taking orders and set up my shop on Etsy and started to participate in Provincetown MA craft fairs. I have sold over 300 pieces and shipped to many parts of the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. I now fabricate rings, various styles of bracelets, pendants, dangle and stud earrings. What started as a hobby has turned into a small business that I truly enjoy doing.

DSC01347Q: 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 collect for the joy of collecting, searching and of course finding sea glass and pottery. One of the two grandsons has an eye for black glass and has located an area that he goes to to find his treasures. I separate the jewelry quality pieces from the seconds. The exceptionally nice pieces of glass get turned into jewelry which our daughter quickly appropriates for herself. I think I might need a safe to hide them! I mentioned we have converted several friends to searching, one in particular is Ed Drzazga, my friend from the Navy, going back 50 years. He sends us pieces from Lake Erie. He was hooked on sea glass after visiting us in 2014, it has turned into a great way for him to exercise.

DSC01377Q: Can you share some of the joys and challenges of your business and craft?

A:  That’s a question with a simple answer! The challenge is making pieces that are fun to make and to try and anticipate what our customers want. The joy is when they purchase the items and even more joy when a custom order turns out to be what they had envisioned.

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

A:  My membership allows me to display the NASGA logo and the establish credentials as someone who knows real sea glass from the items sold to unsuspecting individuals. Personally it makes it incumbent on me to research and read as much as possible regarding 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:  Unfortunately my current schedule does’t allow me to attend. I have not been to any sea glass festivals.

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

A:  I love to fly kites. I have been doing this for 18 years now. I have approximately 40 kites, single line, dual line and a four line kite. I used to fly in Newport RI and local fields in Uxbridge MA. My place of employment had several fields so myself and a friend flew almost daily, weather permitting. When I retired my staff presented me with a large luna moth kite, only 200 had been made.

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:  The public can learn a lot by visiting the NASGA website or going to their local library and check out the books dealing with sea glass. I can be contacted via my website www.ptowntreasures.com. I participate weekly in the craft fair in Provincetown MA at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on Commercial St, every Thursday starting June 21, 2018 until the end of August and at the Truro Treasures craft fair held in September.

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.