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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Lifelong Love of Beachcombing

Some of my most magical childhood memories are of beachcombing with my family on the North West coast of Washington State. My brother and i would play all sorts of games, hiding from each other, making or discovering huge driftwood forts where the sand had drifted and created caves smelling of the sea.

Flotsam and jetsum abounded on the coast and we revelled in most of the treasures we found. There were of course the seashells; sand dollars, mussels, limpets, oyster, clam and crab. Some beaches were covered in wonderfully polished stones and pebbles.

Occaisionally we would find beautiful glass balls used as floats for the nets of Japanese fishermen. Red, blue, clear, yellow, green they came in all colors and sizes often ranging from tennis ball sized to basketball sized. These were greatly prized and sought after for years and years of beachcombing. I have not lived on the coast for some time now and wonder if the Japanese fishermen still use these hand blown glass floats or if they, like most of the world have moved on to cheap plastic floats. I hope not.

Another favorite find was sea glass which was glass from broken bottles that had been rounded and worn by the rhythmic motion of the waves and the beach sand. This gives the glass a frosted look. The colors are wonderful, there are lots of brown pieces from beer bottles of course, but the light blue and green are also fairly prominent. Other colors are more rare, such as yellow, red or that dark lapis blue.

My brother recently sent me some of this sea glass from his beachcombing and hiking. As a lifelong hiker and photographer he often travels the beach and rain coast forest between First Beach and Third Beach as well as digging Ruby Beach and hitting Ocean Shores with his family where the love of beachcombing has been passed down to his children. I am working on designs for these pieces of sea glass in rings, earrings, pendants and necklaces.

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