Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sea Glass Designs

"I have always gathered sea glass."

So says Rita, a nurse, wife, mother and crafter who grew up on beautiful Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. "My father was a lobster fisherman and we lived just a few feet from the sea -- close enough that we sometimes had seaweed on the doorstep after a storm!" As a child, she and her brother and sister made crafts with beach rocks and sold them to the tourists who visited their fishing village. She pauses a moment to wonder how many of those glued together contraptions are still out there.

Collecting treasures from the sea remains a family affair. Her partner and children help with collecting the sea glass. "None of us can stroll along a beach, just enjoying the day. We can't help but walk with our heads down, eyes peeled for that little piece of colour hiding in the sand and rocks." Because their beaches are snow and ice covered from December to the end of March, the hunt is over for this year; she uses the winter hours to work with the beautiful pieces -- ranging from vibrant reds to turquoise -- that they have found through the summer and fall months. "There is history behind some of the pieces- there are books such as Richard LaMotte's 'Pure Sea Glass' which help to identify the age of certain pieces of glass, and where they may have come from. Its thrilling to find a piece that is particularly old or rare."

Rita started making jewelry with my glass collection about 5 years ago. "I took silver smithing and jewelry courses at our local art college, loved everything about it, and decided to incorporate some of our glass into the pieces. The designs are inspired by the glass itself. Sea glass, also know as beach glass or mermaid's tears, is nature's answer to bottles, china and pottery carelessly thrown into the sea many years ago. The glass is tumbled on the ocean floor, smoothed by the waves and sand until it washes up on shore, waiting to be found by a lucky passerby. Because every piece of sea glass is different, no two pieces of jewelry are exactly alike, which keeps it interesting," she says. Her work can be found in her Etsy shop as well as at craft fairs and a boutique in Halifax called Love, Me, which carries Canadian handmade goods from several Etsy shops.

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