Girl vs. Island: Sea Glass Therapy

Categories: Sea Glass | Tags: , ,
Published on 09 Oct, 2012

I know I have mentioned sea glass hunting a few times. But I hadn’t dedicated a whole post to sea glass, and it deserves it, so here we are.

Renting the cottage on Tilghman Island for summer (and now fall) weekends to write a novel* has been quite an enlightening experience in many ways. Spending time alone and in my own four walls for the first time taught me a lot about who I am. Not to get all Oprah-y on you with a bunch of self-discovery bullshit or anything. But to be honest, I’m kind of a different person now than when I signed the lease to that place back in May. Not in a bad way. Just different.

It actually is kind of ‘major life journey’ish. And you probably don’t want to hear me wax poetically on about that… so for today I will just tell you about the sea glass.

I have been sea glass hunting for nearly a decade and a half that I’ve lived here on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. When my teenagers were little, I used to take them to a beach called Betterton Beach up in Kent County, and that’s where we started finding it. Over the years we collected a jar or two of mostly white, brown, green, and the rare cobalt blue piece.

But when I started staying on Tilghman Island I realized that its location where the Choptank River meets the Chesapeake Bay, combined with its rich history (island settled by Choptank Indians) meant that the sea glass abundance and quality were beyond compare on the Eastern Shore.

The challenge? Well, technically there aren’t any beaches on Tilghman Island. Like other islands in the Chesapeake, it is basically sinking. The water level is rising rapidly each year, and the land erosion I saw in just three months is astounding. Pretty soon there won’t be any more sea glass hunting on T.I., unless you have scuba gear and love murky water.

But I have found (and charmed property owners into letting me search for) the last few sea glass spots on the island. Above is a picture I took of what I found in a day. Whole bottles, purple glass, turquoise, lots of blues, and the most amazing thing: the pottery. Notice the pig snout and the teacup handle? I also have pinks, yellows- and even the two most rare colors in all of sea glass hunting: red and black. In total, I have a crab bushel full that I’ve collected this summer.

So what am I going to do with it all?

My first sea glass necklace

So what am I going to do with it all besides hoard it? Well, I started making some jewelry. Above was my first piece. I think I’ve made around 10-12 so far. I gave the first half of those away to friends with birthdays and my daughters, and now I am sort of stocking some pieces to eventually be for sale.

Although I completely love and could not do without my real therapist, hunting for sea glass has been the best therapy of my life. Seriously, it’s kind of like “Everything I Ever Needed to Know in Life I Learned From Sea Glass Hunting.”

Sea glass is simple. If it’s a pretty piece that’s worn enough on all the sides, you keep it. Even if it isn’t perfect, you keep the blue because it’s rare. You throw back the pieces that aren’t ready yet- they are just broken glass, not sea glass. There’s a difference. The best pieces are the most worn pieces, and that’s because they have been tumbled the longest and the hardest.

They’ve been through the most, and they are the most beautiful. Even Oprah would agree.


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