Sea glass inspires creativity

Posted July 06, 2009, at 5:10 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

To live in Maine is to know the lure of the sea and the delight of its beaches where the tide works its magic several times a day, leaving the gift of sea glass littering the sand.

Red, blue, white, aqua, amethyst, green, yellow, brown, clear — a veritable rainbow of shards from bottles old and new, and bits of old dishes still bearing a curlicue of floral design, a spray of tiny flowers, a cross-hatch of banded decoration — the action of tide and current has smashed the crockery, smoothed its edges and cast it upon the shore to delight us as we imagine its journey from briny deep to pebbly shore.

It doesn’t take long to collect a pocketful. Throw that bounty into a clear vase and after a few summers, the vase — perhaps several vases — will be full.

A collection of sea glass in a vase or canning jar is a decoration unto itself. Place it on a table or in a window where the light strikes it and it’s a conversation piece, the colors and shapes hinting at footprints in the sand, the cries of a gull swooping across the bay, the scent of salt air and beach peas in bloom.

The urge to craft with sea glass is almost primeval — it’s there, it’s free, it’s beautiful, its frosty glaze was created by the magic of tidal action! Get the glue, bring the string, find some flat pieces of driftwood. Let’s make stuff!

— Souvenir of beaches past. Choose a dozen or so pieces of sea glass fresh from the beach. Look for colors that harmonize and shapes that complement one another, if possible. Wander around until you find a piece of driftwood that is flat on at least two sides and about 1 foot long and 2 or 3 inches wide. Arrange the sea glass on the driftwood in a manner that pleases you. Glue — doesn’t everyone pack glue when they go to the beach? — each piece in place with white glue. Thumbtack a tab from an aluminum beverage can to the back of the piece to serve as a hanger. Or simply prop the piece in a window or on a shelf to remind you, in the middle of January, that life, at least part of the year, really is a beach — even if it rains all summer.

— Sea glass in motion mobile. Collect small pieces of driftwood from which to dangle strings of beach glass. Choose a dozen or so pieces from your collection. Arrange the pieces in lines of three to six. Place a length of white crochet cotton across the line of sea glass. Apply a generous dab of white glue to each piece of sea glass, covering the string. Let it dry thoroughly. Then tie the strings of sea glass to the driftwood. Add a looped string hanger and suspend it in a window.

— Sew with sea glass. Add a designer touch to a sweat shirt or pair of jeans. Dot the glass with a tiny dab of glue and place it where you want it on the clothing. Using embroidery floss, Perle cotton or a novelty thread with glittery aspects, stitch back and forth across the glass, creating a “web” to hold the glass in place. Sea glass also can be stitched in place using a mirror embroidery technique. Find instructions and a tutorial at www.joyfulabode.com/2008/02/12/tutorial-indian-shisha-mirror-embroidery/ or in books on embroidery at your local library.

— Add to decor. Place a handful of sea glass in small clear glass jars or other containers, add votive candles and set them on the picnic table to add a romantic ambiance to your next evening backyard cookout or soiree.

— Flower power. Place sea glass in the bottom of a clear glass vase, add water and a bouquet of wildflowers or flowers from your garden to create a charming floral centerpiece.

— Great gifts. Tie a handful of sea glass in a square of white tulle to hand out as wedding or party favors. Or give bits of sea glass to youngsters in the family to start their own collections.

Want to read more about sea glass? Ask at your local bookstore or public library for “Pure Sea Glass” by Richard La Motte, or “Sea Glass Chronicles” and “A Passion for Sea Glass,” both by Carole Lambert.

Many Maine artisans create fine jewelry from sea glass. Look for it in shops in coastal towns.

Don’t let the season pass by without carrying at least one piece of sea glass in your pocket to remind you of the lazy days of a Maine summer.

Snippets

Coastal Quilters of Camden will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 11, at the Lions Club, Lions Lane. Free and open to all, the program will feature “A Quilter’s Retrospective” with Jacques Huber, a retired engineer, who produces 14 to 15 hand-sewn quilts each year.

Huber’s male perspective will feature discussion and a trunk show of approximately 10 of his quilts. A social time with refreshments, a “show and tell,” and short business meeting follow the program.

All programs and meetings of the group are free and open to the public. For information, call Barb Melchisky at 236-9665.

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