Sea glass is shards of glass bottles and jars discarded into the water, broken up by the waves and rocks and then tumbled smooth by wave action and sand before being finally washed ashore. Glass pieces found along the beaches of inland lakes lack the frosted look of sea glass and are simply called beach glass to distinguish its origins.
Sea glass is prized because of its slightly rough feel and its rounded edges, bleached colours and frosted surfaces. Some colours are very rare and could have come from centuries-old pirate and trading ships wrecked along the coast. Sea glass is often collected and stored in clear glass vases or turned into stunning jewelry or other works of art. Collectors are usually passionate about sea glass and sometimes travel the world to collect specimens unique to an area. To celebrate their good fortune for having this special glass, a few communities hold sea or beach glass festivals. Typically, visitors can collect sea glass on a local beach, enter sea glass photo contests, meet local sea glass artisans, learn about sea glass and its history and purchase sea glass and sea glass jewelry. If you are traveling this summer, look for these sea/beach glass festivals in Canada and the United States.
Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival
Billed as "the only one of its kind in Canada," the Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival is held in July at the Wood Islands Lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. The event includes a vendor fair, shard contest, bake sale, silent auction, food fair, children's fair, beach walks by the Island Nature Trust, and much more.
Great Lakes Sea Glass Festival
The first beach glass festival is planned for Kingston, Ontario in August 2012. The Great Lakes Sea Glass Festival has similar activities planned. The addition of sea glass guru Richard LaMotte will certainly be a draw. For a buck a piece, he will appraise any sea glass you have.
North America Sea Glass Association Festival
On September 15-16 2012, beachcombers around the world will gather at Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA for the North American Sea Glass Association Festival. The event features sea glass aficionados, lectures and seminars, as well as the renowned, "Shard of the Year" contest.
For the full story on sea glass, including why it's often referred to as "Mermaid Tears," see the July 2012 issue of Downhome.