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!

The Mystery and Allure of Cobalt Sea Glass

Updated from version published in spring 2014 edition of Shorelines Newsletter 

Ellie Z. Mercier

 

Sea glass collectors can certainly relate to the jubilant sensation that transpires when striking gold. Of course, not the sought after nuggets that lured settlers west during the Gold Rush of 1849, yet smoothly tumbled specimens of the finest quality, which actually have no resemblance to gold whatsoever but are dressed in the magnificently rich hue of cobalt blue.

Many enthusiasts would likely agree that discovering prized shards of ruby red, yellow, and purple – and especially those boasting coats of orange – are surely hobby-related milestones worth writing home about. However, although true blue finds are generally more plentiful than the shades ranked as most scarce, few collectors can resist the mysterious allure of cobalt blue sea glass.

Detecting glimpses of well-worn cornflower or royal blue gems ashore may generate well-deserved shrieks of delight on behalf of some beachcombers, while others may experience a stunned silence. Yet despite the differing external reactions to such feats, collectors are often left to ponder the magical significance of the cherished shade.

Represented as the first element in the ninth column of the periodic table, cobalt possesses an atomic number of 27 and is recognized by the symbol Co. The mineral was formally discovered in 1735 by Swedish chemist George Brand, who dispelled the myth that the element Bismuth was responsible for the rich blue color of glass. However, coba

lt compounds were used for thousands of years before Brand isolated the element. Scientists have traced the use of cobalt back to the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii and to early civilizations of Ancient China, and the mineral was also used in Egyptian art and Persian pottery. Although prior to the 1940s, cobalt was used sparingly due to the limited quantity, the expense, and the difficulty to extract the mineral. Modern day collectors often associate the shade with luminous blue medicine bottles and cosmetic jars produced during the early to mid-twentieth century.

However, cobalt’s use as a coloring agent is not limited to glass, jewelry and ceramics; the compound is also used as a pigment for paint, ink and even cosmetics. Other applications of cobalt include the production of rechargeable batteries and the electroplating of cutlery and jewelry. Rather than an element found in nature, cobalt is a hard yet brittle mineral contained in the Earth’s crust and is a byproduct of the mining of other metals, including nickel, copper, silver, lead and iron. In its natural state, the color is a bluish-white shade, similar to gray. Cobalt salts are actually the source of the brilliant and permanent rich hue associated with the mineral. The majority of cobalt is mined in Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Zaire, prior to 1997), which extracts close to forty-percent of the world’s supply annually. Other sources are found in Canada, Brazil, Russia, China and Morocco. Also, researchers believe there is a vast source of cobalt contained in the ocean’s floor, although scientists currently lack the technology to extract the element. Interestingly, studies conducted by the United States Geological Survey conclude that cobalt likely exists in the shallow waters of the Hawaiian Islands (USGS).

Ironically, among the many interesting facts about cobalt is the mysterious nature of how the color’s name originated. Long ago, superstitious German silver miners believed that malicious spirits were affecting their health as well as stealing silver ore from the mines, and they referred to these spirits as kobalt, a derivative of kobold, which is German for goblin. Other fascinating facts surrounding the element include artist John Varley’s presumption that cobalt is an ideal substitution for the shade of ultramarine blue, which was widely used for painting skies. Another artist, Maxfield Parrish, was so well known for his superior cobalt blue sky-scape paintings that the hue is sometimes referred to as Parrish blue. Cobalt was also the primary pigment used in notable blue and white Chinese porcelain, originally produced in the late eighth or ninth century. Furthermore, cobalt is used to illuminate the cornea of the eye to detect corneal scratches and is used in the production of magnets, and Radioactive Cobalt is used to treat cancer. And oddly enough, cobalt is added to the diet of sheep in order to prevent disease and improve the quality of their wool.

The outward reactions of those fortunate enough to experience such a hobby-related milestone as striking gold – or rather, witness sudden brilliant glimpses of blue jump out from the sandy canvases before them – may differ significantly, but few sea glass collectors can resist the powerful allure of cobalt treasures, which in many aspects, are truly gifts of Mother Nature.

Photos: Ellie Mercier

  • Ellie found the frosty marble in the Abacos (her first marble find & she remembers that she was extra excited because Richard LaMotte shared that cobalt marbles are more rare than red marbles).
  • The bottle is from Ellie’s bottle collection – She also collects antique bottles.
  • Ellie found the jar lid in the Chesapeake Bay (almost a decade ago)
  • Yet most interesting is the image of the large cobalt shards, which Ellie found following the 2009 festival in Lake Erie…One of her customers took me combing along the river in nearby Conneaut, Ohio, where much slag glass was discarded in the 1960s by the GE Light Bulb Base Plant (these are huge, and the hue is extremely vibrant, alike bright violet).

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 http://www.drbeachcomb.com.

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.