“Meet the NASGA Members”- STBeachFinds, Steve Gladhill and Tammy Thatcher

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.

Our next NASGA Member is Steve Gladhill and Tammy Thatcher of STBeachFinds from St. Leonard, Maryland.

NASGA: Hello, Steve and Tammy.   How long have you been a member of NASGA?

We’ve been a member of NASGA since April 2015

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

We have lived on the beach most of our lives.  We walk the beach to relax and enjoy nature.  In doing so you find all kinds of interesting things especially sea glass.

Some of ST Beach Finds sea glass collection
Some of ST Beach Finds sea glass collection

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

Our business started approximately 3 years ago.  Our collection had grown so much that we need a way to share it with people.  We both love to be creative and started by a lot of trial and error, along with online research and most of all going to festivals and talking to people.  We taught ourselves how to do wire wraps, drill glass and which glues work best.

Steve sorting sea glass for projects
Steve sorting sea glass for projects


NASGA: 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?

We are most definitely collectors.  Some of our most prized pieces decorate our home.  We have a few reds, yellows and many shades of blues.



NASGA: 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?

It is hard sometimes to part with that special piece but we ask ourselves, if someone else would enjoy it as much as we do and would another piece work as well in the project?  The piece usually ends up being used.  Of course we all have those pieces that we absolutely will not part with.

Tammy sorting sea glass
Tammy sorting sea glass

NASGA: How has your craft evolved over time (how has experience helped you to perfect your craft and whether you were self-taught or took classes or had some other type of training, or whether you perhaps happened to discover your craft by accident or had an experience that shifted your focus from one type of craft/skill to another)? 

We have definitely evolved over the last few years.  We look back now on some of the early photos and can see an improvement in the quality of our work.  We continue to research new techniques and talk to other crafts people to see what is working for them.  Exchanging information is the best way to help each other succeed.

NASGA: 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)?

We have not had the chance to do this yet, as we have only been members since April.

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

We are hoping being part of NASGA will help us network and build our business over the upcoming years.

Favorites from ST Beachfinds' sea glass collection
Favorites from ST Beachfinds’ sea glass collection

NASGA: Is there a particular NASGA festival that stands out as your favorite (if the member has participated in several, or more than one), and can you a share a memorable experience associated with a previous NASGA festival (whether sentimental, humorous, ironic)?

This will be the first festival in which we are participating.  We hope to come away with some wonderful memories that we might share next year.

NASGA: 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?

Steve: Become a Captain and pilot a boat to journey around the world.

NASGA: 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?

We always welcome contact with anyone interested in sea glass. Please feel free to use either our Facebook page, STBeachfinds or send us an email stbeachfinds@gmail.com

Small sea glass bottle stopper
Small sea glass bottle stopper

NASGA: What is your favorite beachcombing find?

We found a salt cellar, a stopper with a W engraved,  a stopper that is smaller than a dime and a few whole bottles.  Of course, any piece of red is a treasure.


NASGA:  How have you helped strengthen and support the NASGA Mission? 

We walk our local beaches and pick up trash others are leaving behind while always searching for sea glass.  When out in our boat we see things floating in the bay and stop to retrieve them if possible.  Sometimes these items are incorporated into crafts used in the other side of our business which deals with nautical designs.  We feel that by upcycling we are doing our part to help protect our beaches, waterways and the marine eco-system.

NASGA:  Thank you , we hope you enjoy your first NASGA Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland, August 29th and 30th!


Richard LaMotte moves on…

Richard during the 2014 NASGA festival in Cape May, his last festival as President
Richard during the 2014 NASGA festival in Cape May, his last festival as President

The NASGA community would like to express our sincere appreciation for our former president, Richard LaMotte, whose inspiration and determination have benefited the organization in many ways. Along with Charles Peden and a handful of other key sea glass enthusiasts, Richard was instrumental in the establishment of the association and has served tirelessly on the executive board of NASGA for many terms. The humble, accomplished author’s knowledge of sea glass, coupled with his professional experience and common-sense approach to budgeting have significantly contributed to the continued success of NASGA.


Richard LaMotte’s final President’s Letter

In 2015 the North American Sea Glass Association will begin its 10th year—now under new leadership. Terms have been completed by all the founding board members with the only one exception, our stalwart Lisa Hall of Maine. Please welcome Val Weston as our new president and continue to lend a hand whenever possible so we can keep NASGA moving forward.

The annual festival remains a primary task for the board and our members who wish to see it continue. At our first national sea glass festival in October of 2006, nobody knew what to expect. Only one board member had visited the site and when the rest of us drove into Santa Cruz we could only hope our efforts to promote the show, without funding, would allow us enough revenue to host future events. The attendance of just over 1,000 was barely enough to cover expenses, but the enthusiasm led us to try again and a similar attendance figure was achieved in 2007. Then we came east in 2008 and hosted the festival in Lewes that attracted over 4,000 visitors to the small Virden Center. Other venues were tried with variable results then two events in Virginia drew attendance figures of only 2,000 each. The decision to host the event in Cape May was not easy but the board was faced with limited options. That experiment left a bitter taste for masses who tried to enter on Saturday morning. The board looked hard at expanding that venue but in the end an ideal weekend at a larger venue recently opened up in Ocean City, Maryland. This is where the 2015 sea glass festival will be held on August 29-30. More space, plenty of on-site parking and nearby lodging options.

We regret that the Cape May venue was too small to accommodate the unexpected surplus of attendees. The facility at the Ocean City Convention Center will certainly be a more wide-open and welcoming experience for all.


A collectors Interview – Lisa Crabtree – Florida


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!”










NASGA News – February 2015

NASGA NEWS – February 19, 2015
by Valerie Weston, President, NASGA

With the new year, NASGA has transitioned to a new board of directors, and the board has taken some time to reflect on what the association has been able to accomplish for the sea glass community; what we have learned from the successes as well as those efforts that may not have gone as planned.  Along with the support of the commercial members, the board takes its stewardship of the sea glass community seriously.  We continue to foster the same passion for genuine sea glass and are proud that we have created a fun and civilized space to share that enthusiasm with each other on many different levels.  Please take a minute to “meet” the NASGA Board of Directors on the NASGA website.

The NASGA social network, NING, is always free of charge and is a “non-commercial” space open to all collectors of genuine sea glass to associate with one another.  The membership has risen to over 3,000.  The NASGA Facebook is growing in popularity as well.  In 2014, we began a blog and have big plans to expand that avenue of communication going forward.  The NASGA website continues to draw interest from around the globe as the premier site for genuine sea glass enthusiasts.  All of these channels of sea glass community outreach are now being coordinated by a newly created Communications Committee as we continue to explore ways to keep our message fresh, relevant, and consistent.

The NASGA website homepage contains links to join in all of these ways to share with the sea glass community.

2015 NASGA Sea Glass Festival logoAs we kick into high gear on the planning of the 2015 North American Sea Glass Festival, we are keeping in mind that it will be the tenth festival, the first being held in 2006.  Plans are under way to make it memorable – for only positive reasons.  It will be held at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, Maryland on August 29 & 30.  The festival will take place in the 24,000 square foot Bayfront Ballroom on the second level, plus additional space for lectures.  The entire east side of the Ballroom is a glass wall that overlooks the Isle of Wight Bay.  We can assure you that there is ample space for attendees, ample free parking, food and beverages on site, excellent educational presentations, and the most talented sea glass artisans and authors on the planet whose commitment to NASGA’s mission is supported through membership.

Please make plans to join us for our tenth sea glass festival celebration in Ocean City.  We will keep you updated with all the latest news on the festival planning through our website festival page, and through the NASGA Festival Facebook page.

We would like to close by thanking all of the NASGA board members who have worked so hard on behalf of the genuine sea glass community from the association’s inception in 2007.  We thank Christeena Minopetros and Suegray Fitspatrick whose board terms ended in 2014 but whose commitment continues on the committee level.  Founding member and President Richard LaMotte’s board term also ended in 2014.  He had served on the board since its inception, and we express heartfelt appreciation for his leadership, commitment, and passion for the sea glass community for so many years.

Valerie Weston, President
On behalf of the NASGA Board of Directors

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