Ten Best Beaches for Sea Glass

As I sit here glaring out at snow-covered suburbia, I dream about vacations. Here is a link to places I am dreaming about.

The Joy of Sea Glass

Winter sea glassing on Lake Erie

This is an essay I wrote a back in November. We’ve only been out once since then. Waiting for the ice and snow to reveal the jewels beneath.

By Christina Friedrichsen

The sky is a diluted grey.  On the horizon there are spindly trees reaching upwards, offering nothing but a place for tired birds to land. I roll down my window and the wind is cold and raw and it carries the heavy scent of burning brush. We are heading to the beach.

Who goes to the beach on a Sunday morning when it’s two degrees celcius and overcast? Who leaves the warm cocoon of home when the air bites mercilessly at fingertips and toes? Who bundles up their little ones, when they are content to snuggle pajama-clad in front of cartoons?

If you’ve ever seen a piece of wet sea glass on the beach when the sun hits it just right, you might understand why we are compelled to leave the comfort of our home, even on the not-so-nice days.

It all started with a single piece of emerald green found at a local beach. I was instantly dazzled: It looked like a gem.

I put the sea glass in my pocket and kept on walking. And pretty soon that piece of sea glass was a distant memory.

That is, until this summer when we took our two daughters on a picnic to that same beach and discovered sea glass in almost every colour of the rainbow. Soft blue. Citron. Jade. Lavender. In one hour our buckets were full. From that point on, there was no turning back.

Since then it’s been like a full blown Easter egg hunt every weekend. Even as the wind off Lake Erie gets cruel, and the water turns frigid we’re still playing “I spy” out there on that same beach.  I’m sure the nearby waterfront residents who have caught sight of the four of us (five if you include the border collie) in our thermal rubber boots and our winter woolies must shake their heads in bewilderment. Especially when Lake Erie looks like an album cover for Gordon Lightfoot’s marine anthem The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. But this is the highlight of our weekend. And I suspect it will be this way until the lake freezes over. (We’re hoping that won’t happen for awhile.)

Most people don’t understand. Most people are confused, the same way I am confused by people who collect shoes. Or purses. Or who watch Dancing with the Stars. What is so compelling about a few shards of broken glass?

But some get it. They understand that there is delight to be found out there on that beach – even if the wind is bitter and threatening. Even if there are more important things to do. Especially when there are more important things to do.

Because really, is there anything more important than getting our soft, nature-deprived suburban arces back into nature? To reconnect. To reunite. To replenish.

And it’s just so much fun. I’m positive that the thrill of the hunt is no different than that of a hunter, a fisherman, a storm chaser, an astronomer in search of a brand new star. That’s why my kids dig it so much.

Finding a perfectly frosted piece of sea glass in a rare shade – like red or turquoise is a soul-satisfying experience.

It’s a big time buzz to hold in your hands a piece of sea glass that you know is more than a century old. Where did it come from? Did someone so very long ago smash a bottle during a lover’s quarrel, or did it come from a shipwreck miles away? (There were hundreds of shipwrecks on Lake Erie.)

Which is why I have a sudden interest in bottles. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was at a flea market and I spent half an hour rooting through a cardboard box covered in cobwebs and what looked like mouse poop in search of a cobalt blue Milk of Magnesia bottle. I was in luck; not only did I find one, I also found an old Javex bottle. How exciting!

If that weren’t enough, I’ve suddenly been scouring the library for books on glass. You know you’re in deep when you forgo the latest hot novel for a book entitled Glass: A World History.

Next thing you know, I’ll be hanging out with 80-year old men at bottle shows, having serious discussions about antique mason jars and milk bottles. Yes, I can see it in my future. (I also see a kayak in my future, but we won’t get into that.)

Although the thrill of the hunt is what captivates me, there is something deeper going on: Something quiet, peaceful, meditative.

I’ve never been one to meditate. I’ve tried the breathing thing. I’ve tried the dim lights and the soft Zamfir-like-music-with-waves-in-the-background. It’s just not me.  But I can’t imagine anything more meditative than walking the beach in search of sea glass.

It’s like my mind has found its way off a 12-lane highway onto a quiet sandy, path.

A path with small footprints leading to the water’s edge.

And it is there that I have found joy.

Sea Glass Jewelry: Lessons I am Learning

I have been busy with the Dremel. I’ve drilled easily over 100 pieces now. What I have learned:

  1. Patience is a good thing. Do not force the bit. Take it easy. I broke four bits before realizing this. It might take you a bit longer to drill a piece, but your bits will last longer and that will save you money.
  2. Drilling is zen-like. Honestly, I enjoy drilling the glass. It takes my mind off of everything. I find it very calming.
  3. Jewelry supplies ain’t cheap!
  4. Searching for jewelry supplies is very time consuming! I scour Etsy, Ebay and Artbeads.com for jewelry supplies. Fun, but time consuming!
  5. Photographing sea glass jewelry is very time consuming! But it’s a riot!

Here are a few of my latest pieces:

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