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A saga of sea glass

It’s impossible not to wax metaphorical when writing about sea glass. (Page B1, July 23, 2008.)

Think about it. You start with shards of broken glass, garbage if ever there was, often from broken bottles just thrown away on the beach. It winds up in the ocean where it’s tossed around, scraped by salt and currents and sand and rocks and sharks and who knows what, maybe for years. Eventually the tide spits it out, back up on the beach.

But by now it’s changed, smoothed and softened, yet somehow harder to break than when it was a skinny little shard. It’s got a lovely soft patina that invitesthe viewer to touch, gaze or wonder – in other words, get involved. If you want to think of it in this way, it also hints alluringly at wisdom and untold stories.

But back to facts: under the patina it’s the same, still made of glass. In its very beginning it was liquid, and along the way it acquired a sharp edge. But now it bears silent testimony to the effects of time, transformation, evolution.

Of course it’s nearly irresistible to make a metaphorical jump to sapient (human?) life: From buffeting to transformation, rough edges softening (blossoming, if you will) into a stage of maturation and completion. Inside it, nothing is changed or compromised. There’s just a graceful new patina that complements what was there originally … See what I mean? Sorry.

But still …

Of course it’s a condescending insult to anyone going through rough times, drugs or poverty or illness or fill-in-the-blank as you will, to blithely assure them that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The last thing they (or you) want to hear at such times is that you can evolve like sea glass after being tossed around by circumstance. Tougher and improved, polished and glowing and beautiful. Yeah, fine. Enough already. Still, it might just turn out to be true.

Sea glass pieces are sometimes oddly shaped, bumpy. Some may see that as a minus, a limitation, but maybe they can perceive a gentle reminder that strengths have not disappeared and potentials exist. People aren’t chunks of glass, of course, but they can be diamonds in the rough, with edges, resources, grit – and options.

You may not control the outcomes – pieces of sea glass often wind up as mere decorations. I own some sea glass jewelry myself, and enjoy it. Those pieces were found on a beach and placed in lovely silver settings by a skilled artisan.

People may not feel attractive or useful, like sea glass jewelry, after a trip through the wringer. Winding up as an earring is just another stage on the journey of the original piece, and it doesn't change a thing about the original:

It’s still a jewel, a survivor. Same difference. With stories to pass along.


I appreciated your metaphoric composition!

"Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so shall you become. Your Vision is the promise of what you shall one day be. Your Ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil."

- James Allen

We used to pick them up on the Monterey Beaches in times long past.

Called them 'Moon Stones'.

White, green and blue were most common.

Who will join me to 'seed' the ocean with bottles and glass of all colors so that we can all enjoy a rainbow of sea glass!?! Oh wait... never mind. :)

My wife and I love to find sea glass.

She likes the dark blue pieces the best. They are so beautiful--and come from such humble beginnings--from Bromo-Selzer and Phillips Milk of Magnesia bottles :)

We have a great "coffee table" -type book called "Pure Sea Glass" by Richard LaMotte of Maryland. It is not only helpful in identifying different grades of sea glass but a beautifully arranged and photographed book. There is even a North American Sea Glass Association. Check out www.seaglasspublishing.com if your interested in the book or more info.

Lovely Article!

I often referred to sea glass in a similar manner, like people.

We are all unique and become better with our experience, like sea glass.

Each piece is a one of a kind ,no two pieces are alike.

I have been collecting sea glass for over 20 years, mostly in the Outer Banks of NC but I have glas from California to England.

I offer a site dedicated to sea glass lovers with tons of info and photos at Web Link

The sea glass shows up more right after a big storm. Sometimes I will get lucky and find more than I can stick in my pocket! I dislpay them in a clear container and often have sand dollars and other interesting shells in the same container. I love the sea glass! Thanks for sharing!

I too have a great fondness for sea glass. I have glass from all over the world, including Iceland. It looks different based on where it was recovered. Glass here is small and perfect in shape. Icelandic glass is large, misshapen, multi-colored and dramatic.

Was browsing blogs, found your article, very nice.


just want to let everyone know about Sea Glass Artists & Sea Glass Collectors. It is a positive and friendly community of sea glass enthusiasts. All are welcome to join! Web Link

Lisl Armstrong,

Out Of the Blue Seaglass Jewelry

Web Link

Stumbled upon your article. Love it! I found your sentiments echoed in my heart with your analogy of the tumbling of sea glass and the human soul. I too have pondered the same thought.

If you are in the North East USA and you love sea glass, please feel free to join in on some fun sea glass hunting with the North East Sea Glass Society. Check it out... Web Link

Danielle Renee'

Jewelry by Danielle Renee'~ Specializing in Natural Sea Glass Jewelry

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