Sunday, 4 May 2008

The Story of the Sea Glass

Yesterday I washed and sorted all the sea glass.

Now let me say straight away that this isn't a boast, and Musings isn't suddenly turning into one of those Domestic Arts blogs which extolls the virtues of cleaning and polishing and celebrates my general domestic godessisity (? goddessness/ goddessdome/ goddessability ?). I was in fact performing this uncharacteristic bit of housewifely fastidiousness when I should more properly have been weeding, ironing or scrubbing the jam from the table - heaven knows those tasks have been awaiting my attention long enough.

But no, apart from sort of nearly making a belated birthday cake for my Boy (see comments to this post on Random Distractions for the full story, such as it is) and folding several loads of laundry but not quite getting round to putting them away, it was sea glass washing which used up my limited attention to domestic duties yesterday.

The reason being this. Having seen the wonderful things that Michele over at Hedgelands has been doing with sea glass (some of it from Mersea) - see here, here and here - I've decided that it's high time I acquired few pairs of sea glass earrings. My own career as a jeweller not having got off the ground quite yet - or at least no further than acquiring some silver wire (still in its packet) - I have commissioned Michele to perform the 'transformations' for me. She's also going to make a Mersea sea glass pendant for my mother's birthday. But first . . . the sea glass all had to be washed and sorted and some choice pieces selected.

When it's wet, most sea glass reverts to its former transparent state. It's only when dry that it takes on that beautiful frosty opacity. So once it was washed I found myself in the bizarre position of drying it all with a hair dryer! (You were right, this is turning into a post about 'how I clean things'. Sorry.)

For pendants I was spoilt for choice, but for earrings, which ideally (for me, at least, conventional old thing that I am) are best when roughly similar in size and shape, the matching process took ages. Far more difficult than I imagined.

What with all that and then the cake-making fiasco plus preparing (and clearing away) a rather protracted Chinese meal (Boy's special birthday request), I was only too delighted to slump on the sofa with SD#3 for a bedtime story. And this is what we read:

The Story of the Sea Glass by Anne Wescott Dodd, with illustrations by Mary Beth Owens, is a US-published children's book with a rather old-fashioned feel, although it was written only a decade ago. I wasn't quite sure about some of the illustrations - the artist seemed to be on more relaxed and natural territory with her still-lives and landscapes than she was with people, which were clearly painted from photographs and have a slightly stilted air. The theme is one which appealed to SD#3, however, as she's fast acquiring her brother's sharp eye for sea glass and making her own contributions to the collection.

Nicole and her grandmother visit the beach on a small island near the house where Nana grew up. They go beachcombing and among the things they find is a piece of red sea glass. Now red is one of the rarest colours to find, and Nana is convinced that it must be connected with a story from her girlhood which she has never divulged to anyone. When she was Nicole's age, she accidentally broke a precious red glass vase - a family heirloom which had captivated her. In an effort to avoid detection, she scooped up the shards in her dress, ran down to the beach and tipped them into the ocean. The coincidence is so strong that Nicole is as sure as Nana that this is a piece of the precious vase, transformed by the sea into a ruby-like jewel. The girl and her grandmother decide to make a 'sun-catcher' with this and some other pieces of sea glass, as a reminder of this special day together in their special place. The book concludes with a couple of illustrated pages answering the question 'What is Sea Glass?' and instructions for making a sun-catcher.

SD#3 (6 1/2) loved the illustrations because they 'look just like real life except with nicer colours', and she liked the happy ending, though the account of the accident (for which Nana was sent to bed without any supper) made her 'feel very sad and scared'. A sun-catcher is now on the list of craft projects for a rainy day - I'll post a picture of the result here idc.


Hedgelands Glass Lass said...

The book sounds wonderful - its the sort of thing I'd think if it had been me to break the vase. And do post the suncatcher! Gosh lots of beautiful coloured Mersea sea glass! Best of luck finding some good matches for earrings : ) The blue chips looked promising.

Barb McMahon and Alan Mailloux said...

I really enjoy your sea glass posts!