The Allure of Sea Glass

7 06 2013

beach glassI have beachcombed my entire life. It started with agates, shells and an equally enthusiastic partner—my dad. I fell for sea glass a few years ago. It began when my family searched the sand at Oceanside, Oregon for rocks and shells, and one of my children placed a tiny, brilliant green shard of beach glass in my hand. Wet and shining in the sunlight, it resembled a jewel. Right then, the hunt for more beach glass was underway. We don’t discriminate against color or size. I only require that the glass has smooth, safe edges and a mostly dull finish—evidence of being tumbled in the water and sand. Admittedly, I have several pieces with just smooth edges, treasures from beachcombers-in-training.

Two of my best pieces were found on the same hunt. One was a large, clear piece and the other was a large, aqua piece. Both obviously had been in the ocean for years. Did you notice that I said, “was?” I carried them in a cheap pail, all the while meaning to transfer them into my beach bag. I was on such a roll, regrettably, that I didn’t want to interrupt my search. In a freaky coincidence, at the exact time that an extra large wave washed over my legs, the pail’s handle broke, dumping everything contained into the foamy water. Before I could snatch the pieces back up, the forceful wave retreated and dragged all my sea glass back into deeper water. I was crushed. It took me a couple days to get out of my funk. A couple days!

My dad happened to be on that trip with me. Ever since then, he occasionally presents me with a new piece or two. I don’t mind that I didn’t find them myself. It’s meaningful that he thought of me wherever he was beachcombing and saved it for when we met again. Sometimes it’s the hunt that makes a beach trip memorable, especially when it involves three generations. Even if we leave empty-handed, our hearts are full.

Sea glass runs the gamut between the extremely common brown and clear glass, and the deliciously rare red glass. Intensely green glass crops up quite often as well. Variations of aqua appear less often, although the recent popularity of this color in home décor makes it easier to acquire. Amateur glass hunters don’t mind so much whether their aqua sea glass is antique or not. It’s sublime either way. Cobalt blue glass materializes about once every 200-500 pieces. Purple glass remains near the top of the rare list. The manganese in the originally clear glass turns lavender over time. Yellow and orange sea glasses come in second to the number one red. I have yet to find colors other than clear, brown, bright green, and aqua. When I do, I’ll be the graceful blonde diving onto the sand!

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