One of the definitions of a gem is, “..something prized especially for great beauty or perfection.” In my mind, sea glass definitely qualifies as a gem, although it may not be what initially comes to mind when picturing one. When I tell people I’m passionate about collecting sea glass, they likely picture me strolling along the beach, stopping here and there to pick up a piece. Well let me tell you, this is more what it looks like.
Welcome to the world of extreme sea glassing. For this sport, you need gear: a wetsuit, booties, an array of shovels and scoopers, somewhere to quickly and securely stash your finds, and the ability to run really quickly when a huge wave is about to get you. Trust me, you don’t want to be slammed against the merciless cliffs. Davenport, CA, located about 9 miles north of Santa Cruz, is one of the best-known “multi” beaches in the world (the other being in Seaham, England). “Multis” are pieces of sea glass which have more than one color in it. Here’s one of the gems we found last week. Can you see the subtle striations in the white portion? I think it’s simply mesmerizing.
You may wonder why this glass exists in Davenport in the first place. It’s all because of the fabulous Lundberg Studios, located just a half mile up the hill from the beach. This studio produces some of the most beautiful art glass in the world. During the process of creating their art, there are glass shards and trimmings which are discarded. In the 1970’s there was a flood at the studio when the San Vicente Creek overflowed, and all these discarded pieces found their way into the ocean. These are the prizes that we are now searching for, some 40 years later.
Finding sea glass at Davenport is definitely challenging. For one thing, it’s very seasonal — the winter storms are needed to churn up and take out the sand to reveal areas of gravel. This is your only chance of finding anything. If the gravel is in the surf, then you have to keep running in and out of the waves, scooping up gravel to sift through, hoping to find “it” at the bottom of your scoop or shovel before you’re toppled by the wave. If the gravel is up on the sand, then you spend hours digging big holes in the beach, hoping to uncover what you’re looking for. The rest of the year, the beach is just covered in sand…no glass to be found.
With years of drought in California, glassing season has left something to be desired. That is until this year, when El Nino has finally brought in some storms to help us out. BUT…this also means huge, dangerous surf to contend with. I’ve been a few times the past couple weeks, and while I’ve been there, I’ve witnessed someone get a concussion, a likely broken leg, a smashed ankle, and sadly last Saturday someone even lost their life. (Thankfully, his body was found yesterday.) This is definitely not for the faint of heart. Here’s a few photos recently shot by the glass guru, James Hailey. James is one of the master sea glassers, and he has helped me learn so much about the craft. (Follow his FB page if you want to see his jaw-dropping finds!)
Every time I step out of the car up at the parking area, and gaze down at the lovely beach…
My stomach does a little flip-flop, both out of fear and excitement, as I know this is what’s waiting for me…
One of the “holy grails” of this beach is a mushroom. Typically they are found in a green and white pattern, though my friend Tracy from Wisconsin even found a yellow one last Saturday! (Score!) Here’s a couple from my collection, found just in the past month.
We’ve been lucky to find a bunch of partial mushrooms lately as well, which are sometimes also referred to as “onions.”
I love the clear swirl in this one.
Red is one of the rarest colors of sea glass to find. This one, with its various shades of red, is quite spectacular in my opinion.
An “eyeball” is another highly sought-after piece. This one is extra special, as it has a UV rim around its cobalt core. UV glass, also called vaseline glass, has a bit of Uranium in it. If you shine a black light on it, it glows like mad! But don’t worry, there’s not enough radiation being emitted to cause any harm. Here’s photos of my eyeball, both in natural light and under the black light (front and back views.)
When I pulled this out of the sand, I first thought it was a rock. But as I inspected it more closely, I could see that each little crevice was filled with glass — the sun gleaming on the deep teals, blues and aquas deep within. I call it the “asteroid.” No one on the beach had ever seen anything like it. I’m so tempted to break it open to reveal what it’s like inside.
Canes are another very unique find at Davenport. These slim rods of glass are grouped together, then sliced to form millefiori-type patterns in paperweights, vases, etc.
If you look down the centers, you can see the patterns. I’m longing to find one with a star inside. Many of my friends have found them, but I haven’t…yet.
Here are some finished pieces from Lundberg Studios, where you can see the canes used.
On Thursday, we found a smaller egg that is one of my favorites or all time. Doesn’t it almost look like labradorite?! Truly a gem from the sea.
Of course, once you get home, shower, and make a cocktail, it’s great fun to sort out all the glass, deciding which to keep and which to repurpose. I have different jars around my apartment. I’ve got a UV jar, a cane jar, a super special bowl, etc.
In addition to building up my collection, I’m also delighted by all the wonderful glassers I’ve met the past few years. Most I originally met online at Seaglasslovers, which is the largest community of sea glassers from around the globe that I’m aware of (over 10,700 members!). Now some of us have gatherings, and people travel in from all over the country to glass together. This photo, taken by Tami Ewing, is from last Saturday, where we had friends from Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, and more come to glass together. One gal who lives in southern California got up at 2 am to drive and meet the group!
Many of my friends and family call me crazy, but that’s OK. It’s a unique passion and it brings me great joy. I may not take as many risks as I did a few years ago, especially with the current wave conditions, but I have a wonderful time enjoying the California coast and finding my own type of gems. Hoping there’s still a few more bountiful hunting days left this season! And if you’d like to see some more amazing pieces, definitely check out the Davenport Sea Glass Facebook page and Rare Sea Glass — it makes my jaw drop!
I’m sure it’s no surprise that after my pre-Christmas sea glass find of a lifetime (click here if you missed the excitement!), that I’ve spent a bit of time looking at sea glass jewelry online. There are so many talented artists, but one I came across, Delphine Nardin from Paris, really takes it to a whole new level by incorporating diamonds in her designs. I’ve never seen the two combined, and I think the result is fantastic!
Love these rings, with their delicate bezel-set diamonds.
The color combination on this circle pendant is most definitely unique — not your typical blues, greens, and aquas you often find in sea glass jewelry. Don’t you think it’s sophisticated?
Not all of her sea glass pieces include diamonds, but they are equally as lovely. This necklace is one of my favorites. It’s so ethereal and goddess-like.
Guess I better sign off and go pack up my wetsuit and booties. Going to hit the beach tomorrow again in search of the ultimate treasure. I hope your 2015 is off to a great start!
I know that when most people hear the word “gem,” they think of diamonds, emeralds and rubies. But for me, I also think of sea glass. This is glass that has been pummeled in the ocean for years, resulting in a smooth, frosty appearance. Searching for these mermaid’s tears (as they are sometimes referred to) is one of my passions. Sometimes this involves just strolling along the beach, seeing what the ocean offers up. At other times I’m descending 200 foot cliffs with ropes (or without!) and gearing up in my wetsuit to brave the waves with my mesh scooper in search of the ultimate treasure.
This past Sunday, a group of us were out in force during the king tide at a beach near Santa Cruz, California. The recent storms had taken out massive amounts of sand, and for the first time in 2 (long) years, there was the possibility of finding sea glass. Digging huge holes near the edge of the tide was our strategy that day, and unbelievably, the find of a lifetime was made! Here’s the top and bottom views of my new baby (Thanks, Jeff!) photographed by Bev Jacquemet, friend and author of The Sea Glass Rush. (This is a fabulous book if you’re interested in sea glass, and it features finds from northern California.)
Not only does this piece have an amazing amalgamation of colors, but it’s huge in the realm of sea glass. To give you an idea of how large it is, here’s a couple photos of it in my hand. (which I snapped myself)
There are very few places in the world where you can find “multis,” which are pieces of sea glass with more than one color in it. You find them near glass factories or glass artists’ studios, where they used to throw their scraps in the sea. One of the most famous places, which is on my bucket list to visit, is Seaham, England. Their multis are called “end of day” glass, as that’s the trash they dumped into the ocean after their long work day.
Even the smallest multi is a gem in its own way, with its striations and depth. Bev shot this one with some of the smaller pieces Jeff and I dug up.
I could go on and on about sea glass, gems from the ocean, but I’ll leave it at that for today. Many thanks to Bev for her images in this article. If you’re intrigued by her work and want to find out more, then I highly suggest following her on Facebook — it’s a visual delight! You can even e-mail her at [email protected] to order a signed copy of her book.
I have to say that interior design is my second love after style and bling, so anytime I find a killer home store, I have to check it out! Abode is the best interiors store you’ll find on the San Mateo County coast, and I can attest to the quality, as I have a few pieces in my place. They have a mix of modern and vintage, AND they have a nice selection of baubles as well.
They carry between six and eight different designers, and the price points range from around $45-$300. During my last visit, they were celebrating their 10th anniversary — cheers! I was drawn to many pieces by San Francisco designer, Denise Heffernan. I loved her organic style and mixed metals.
One of the delights is how the pieces are displayed in the store. Take a gander at these necklaces on a little wooden dress form.
I also found a great interpretation of the bar necklace trend by The Urban Smith, another local SF company. Rachel, the owner, told me that you can order them with different words, and you can also get the bars hanging vertically.
These unisex vintage leather belt cuffs with Victorian pressed brass centerpieces by Bombshell Betty are definitely a statement! If you’ve got a boho/rocker style going on, then you may just need one of these.
Each time I visit this shop, I’m not only happy to see what’s new and exciting, but I love catching up with Rachel, owner extraordinaire. (…and she is my lovely cousin to boot)
Next time you find yourself in the vicinity of Half Moon Bay, definitely stop by and check out Abode. And if you want to include lunch during your visit to the coast, then I highly recommend Pasta Moon — the bread alone is worth the stop.
I think I may approach Valentine’s Day differently than many women. True, I don’t currently have a love in my life to share it with in the way that Hallmark intended us to, but that really doesn’t make me sad. I feel complete with myself, and I think this holiday is another perfect opportunity to gift myself with a heart-felt token…no, not chocolate (though that’s not off the table), but with jewelry of course! With the overabundance of catalogues and e-mails flooding my mailboxes, I came across many items that would definitely bring a not-so-obviously-valentine-sy smile to my heart.
The first is this heart pendant by Mizuki. The word “love” is subtly spelled out with pave diamonds. (Thanks to my friend Jen for modeling it while we were shopping at Red Bird.)
Again, liking the subtle reference to the heart theme, I thought this bracelet by Zoe Chicco would be so cool in a big bracelet stack. Though you would know you were wearing a self-love gift, most people would just admire your bracelet collection as a whole.
I know there are some of you that would rather have a more obvious sentiment. Meeting in the middle, these 14K gold hearts with white diamonds featured in the Arhaus catalogue would achieve this.
I adore this ring by Workhorse, and if you’re a Francophile, you undoubtedly will as well. Perfect on its own or in a creative stack, I “heart” it.
If you want to be more incognito, then how about this cuff by Coordinates. You can have the coordinates of a special occasion engraved. This doesn’t meant it has to be where you were married or where you first fell in love, but how about where you were born or where you had some other significant event happen in your life, just for you?!
And last, but certainly not least, perhaps you are inspired by the colors associated with Valentine’s Day — from pink to red. If so, then these amazing sea glass rings by Aloha Sea Glass are just perfect.
I wish all of you a wonderful Valentine’s Day. May you fill it with whatever it is that makes you happiest, be it a special dinner with your love, a luxurious massage, or your favorite cocktail and a little trash TV. Cheers! xo
For the second year in a row, the first weekend in November was marked “Santa Cruz sea glass festival!” If you’ve been following my blog, then you know I’m pretty addicted to the beach and collecting sea glass. The show did not disappoint, and I was quite excited to meet Krista Hammond, the owner of Santa Cruz Sea Glass and the producer of the festival.
Krista and her husband, Tony Berkowitz, have combined two of my passions, sea glass and jewelry. They founded their company in 2006. Living in Santa Cruz, and both being surfers, they spend lots of time on the beach, so I imagine it was just a matter of time before they created this wonderful business. They find each and every piece of sea glass themselves, and then hand make each item in their home studio.
Krista and her husband work as a team with each piece. Krista works more on the design end, and Tony is the silversmith. They were fortunate to be mentored by Robert Wunce, a very talented jeweler. It seems like they have a perfect harmony going — Tony always says, “I’m the dirt and you’re the flowers.” Symbiosis, right?
Here’s a photo that shows some of their glass collection. I tried not to drool on the glass case…
Here are some of their finds made into stunning rings.
I guess this one is. 😉
And finally, here’s a lovely photo of some of their bracelet designs.
Not only do they create beautiful jewelry, but they also give part of their profits back to the sea by way of their partnership with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. In addition, they are a green company and use recycled US silver in their designs. What’s not to love?
With holiday shopping season now upon us, you just might want to check out their jewelry — either for a gift for a loved one or for some self-gifting! 😉
I seem to have quite a few passions in my life (beyond even jewelry), and hunting for sea glass is definitely one of them. Sea glass is like jewelry from the sea — pieces of old bottles and such worn smooth and frosty by the sea, waves and sand. As I write this post, I’m here in Fort Bragg, California, which is home to THE most tremendous beach for glassing in North America (and no, that’s not an exaggeration). Glass Beach is beyond imagination — in fact the first time I visited here early this past July, I thought I must be in a dream or something, because it honestly didn’t seem real.
My passions for sea glass and jewelry have now collided. It all started with a beautiful rare pendant I bought from the website By the Sea Jewelry. I just a-DORE it, and wear it often, especially when glassing. (I probably shouldn’t admit this, but my next pendant was just ordered while on this trip!)
When in Fort Bragg, you have to stop into Captain Cass’ Glass Beach Jewerly and Museum! Not only am I completely envious of the fabulous finds Captain Cass has made, but he also has a nice selection of sea glass jewelry. Actually, it was pretty funny when I stepped in there today. Captain Cass saw me, didn’t say a word and just pointed to the bulletin board. There I was! My photo, a picture of my glass haul from July, and a little blurb about how there’s still glass at Fort Bragg. Never thought I’d see myself in a museum! Love it. 😉
If you find yourself in the Capitola, California area, you should also check out Village Sea Glass, which is in the heart of downtown. There, you’ll find all sorts of jewelry and other sea glass art and products (including some driftwood/sea glass mobiles that were quite fab). Speaking of the Santa Cruz area, I just can’t wait until next weekend, when I’ll be attending my first sea glass festival! The Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival is held Saturday, November 5th & Sunday, November 6th at the Cocoanut Grove at the Beach Boardwalk from 10-5. If this sounds tempting to you, then maybe I’ll see you there!