Sunday, 24 February 2008

East coast sea glass

As I've mentioned before, I'm a slightly obsessive picker-up of sea glass . I always have been, but since living so close to the sea, it's become an almost daily ritual. It doesn't seem quite right coming home empty-handed - and in fact I rarely do.

Were that priceless commodity - time - more readily available to me, I'd really love to learn some basic jewellery techniques, so I could wrap some of my finds in silver wire and turn them into ear-rings and necklaces. Until the relentless daily round eases off a little, however, my sea glass sits about the house in large glass dishes.

I wish I could lay my hands on my copy of Anita Shreve's heartbreaking novel Sea Glass , so I could quote a few passages in which she precisely captures the essence of my own fascination with these elusive, evocative shards. Rubbish from ages past transformed by the waves into gemstones of infinitely subtle hue. And with a tactile quality which is difficult to describe to anyone who hasn't walked for miles distractedly turning a piece of sea glass over and over between their fingers. It's addictive stuff.

Jeweller Gina Cowan sums up the history and attraction of sea glass on her seductive site.

Absolutely ages ago I promised to post a photo of a beautiful twisted piece I'd found. Here is it - though it's not easy to show its intriguing shape to best advantage.

Here's the haul from yesterday's walk (above).

And when I grabbed a bag to stuff with scarves, hats, water, tissues etc for this morning's session at the rugby club, I noticed a clinking sound in an outer pocket which turned out to be a handful of sea glass collected on the beach at North Berwick on this day last October.

How lovely to discover it again - though it made me yearn to rush up there and walk along that craggy shore, which could hardly be more different from my own portion of the eastern coastline. I've just been looking at some stunning photographs of the landscape around Berwick Law and wishing my life away.

And yet, who knows, perhaps some of the the well-worn sea glass washed ashore on Mersea began life as bottles dropped into the sea hundreds of miles further north.

Or maybe my North Berwick jewels had made their way from Essex to Scotland over the decades (even centuries) and I have simply brought them home.

We'll never know. But it's fun to dream.


60 Going On 16 said...

Gorgeous post, Juliet. And, rather handily, I just happen to have a copy of Sea Glass within two feet of the iMac.

How about (American spellings here): 'In the wet sand by her foot, a bit of color catches her eye. She picks it up and studies it. The glass is green, pale and cloudy, the color of lime juice that has been squeezed into a glass. The edges of the shard are weathered and smooth and do not hurt at all.'

Or: 'The surf at the waterline is pink. Honora stops and bends to pick up a piece of blue glass ... The glass is cloudy, as though a fog were trapped within the weathered shard.'

Just exquisite. A really gifted writer never has to shout and some of the finest writing is barely a whisper on the page.

Lizzie said...

The twisted piece of seaglass is truly enhanced by the Talwin Morris design - one of my favourites. I read and enjoy your blog every day.

Juliet said...

D - oooh, thank you. Sea Glass is one of my favourite Anita Shreve novels, and I just couldn't believe it when I looked around earlier on and it had disappeared! These are excactly the kind of descriptions I meant. 'as though a fog were trapped within the weathered shard' . . . blissfully accurate writing!

Lizzie - welcome and thank you for commenting. I have so many 'silent visitors' that it's always really lovely when one of them identifies themselves! Glad you like the little Blackie book cover - since you recognised it as a Talwin Morris, you're probably familiar with this completely wonderful site:

monix said...

I've lived by the sea all my adult life (a long time) and collected pebbles and shells and interesting bits of driftwood. I have never even thought about sea glass but, having seen your gorgeous pictures, I want to rush off and start hunting. How am I supposed to fit yet another distraction in J? I'll have to ration my visits.

Stephen said...

I suspect you don't know about yet. They're the best place to find out-of-print books, particularly if you want a hardback copy of anything. They currently list 945 copies of 'Sea Glass' starting at 51p!
It's an excellent site, I use them all the time.

Juliet said...

Hi Stephen - yes I do use abebooks - and agree that they're excellent. My copy of Sea Glass is here *somewhere* - it's just that my books have never been sorted out properly since I moved house 18 months ago!

Michele said...

Hi Juliet, I enjoyed reading about your wonderful collection of sea glass. I rarely get to the beach (and the closest beaches to me in Devon are pebble beaches) and I have never found any sea glass. I love wirewrapping and have wrapped gems and crystals but never sea glass. Wire wrapping is all about going with the flow - practice wrapping a few of your lovely pieces with some artwire. There are quite a few tutorials around to give you some guidance ( : )Michele (aka Mistress to cynicalsteve - doggerels bo**ocks)

Juliet said...

Hi Michele - thanks for your comment and for very the usefeul link. I've really enjoyed seeing your wonderful glass works on Steve's blog and I've just been looking at your jewellery site, which is very inspiring. If you'd like to email me your address (mine's on the contact page of my main site) I'll very gladly send you some Essex seaglass to work on. I'm sure you'll quickly fall under its seductive spell!

One can actually buy bags of seaglass on eBay, and I've occasionally been tempted by gorgeous colours I've never found on my beachcombing travels. But since I don't (as yet) actually DO anything with it, I feel it would be 'cheating' somehow not to have picked it up for myself!

Michele said...

Hi Juliet, thank you for the very kind offer and for the kind words about my glass work. If you want a few more sites with free tutorials on wire wrapping all you have to do is ask - it is terribly addictive!

Anonymous said...

That's where it's all going! Keep mine in a Waterford crystal confit dish but I don't plan to use it for anything as I love it just the way it is. I once found a beautiful pale pinky/lavender piece which is the pride of my collection - have never, ever found another piece. I have a piece which has been made into a necklace with a design of spiralled decorative wire. I bought it from a couple who gave a talk about Mersea Island Sea-Glass. They called themselves 'An Island Creations Company' and they were based in The Sail Loft on Coast Road. It was presented in a felt-lined oyster shell. I wonder what happened to them?

Juliet said...

Michele - your Mersea seaglass is on its way!

Teresa - How interesting - I've not heard of them and can't find them via Google. Was it a hinged oyster-shell - like a jewellery box? What a lovely idea! And don't worry, I don't hoover it all off the island beaches - there's loads left! In fact I don't actively search for it these days, just pick up bits I notice in passing - I'm usually too busy taking photos instead!

Anonymous said...

I just had a look and see that the oyster shell is cleverly 'hinged' by the thick felting that it is lined with. I'll see if anyone can remember the names of this couple.

Michele said...

Juliet, just a note to say 'Glass received' and 'Thank you!'. Lovely pieces in gorgeous colours and some wonderful texture to the darker green pieces. I wonder what sort of bottle / vessel they were originally. I will certainly do my best to make some beautiful jewellery with these. Maybe some 'stained glass' use as well. I will keep you posted.

Juliet said...

Glad it arrived OK, Michele - enjoy!