|Guest Blog post by Emer O’Neill
Artist, Designer at Poppy & Ivy Studios
Have you ever found a piece of seaglass and brought it home as a keepsake of a wonderful day or a beautiful place or a special memory? I always find that once someone slips a wet shiny sea glass gem or a sandy pottery fragment into their pocket that very first time, then that’s it. They’re hooked. They’ve caught the ‘glassing’ bug.
I’ve been bitten hard by this bug, (though addiction may be a more apt term) and the beach will never be the same for me again. Gone are the brisk walks, sweating and aching from the effort of scrambling across the loose sand in a bid to keep fit. The days of a clean car are over, with every footwell filled with interesting driftwood and bags of treasure. Pockets are now sandy and misshapen. People hear me coming before they see me as my heaving pockets tinkle and rattle with the goodies that seem to permanently reside within. No more are the relaxed meditative strolls along the shoreline whose purpose is purely to take in the beauty of the land, sea and sky. Although I’m always mindful of my stunning surroundings, I find that I spend far more time intently scouring the sand at my feet for the glimpse of something special. Bum in the air so to speak. Going to the beach has become something of a search operation, raking the sand with eyes and fingers.
So I blame beachcombing whenever I’m feeling unfit and un-zen-like and in need of a new wardrobe (and car). But I have a stash of treasure that a pirate would give his good leg for, so I get over it pretty quickly. I’d like to now formally apologise to everyone who tells me that I’ve gotten them hooked on beachcombing. My bad! But in fairness, you could be doing worse 😉
If I am responsible for booting you down the beachcomber’s rabbit hole, I guess the least I could do is share some little morsels that may aid you on your search for treasure.
– Be aware that not every beach gathers seaglass. A number of factors come into play such as the direction the beach faces, whether the beach is on an estuary or open sea, the current, and also whether there happened to be an occurrence of regular dumping along the coast in days of yore. That sounds so unromantic and I don’t even like writing it down as I feel it devalues the magic of finding a beautiful seaglass jewel… But it is what it is. All seaglass was originally a full glass object that was dumped and broken and unloved, sob! I’m so grateful for the wonderful job that the sea does, smoothing it down into something beautiful.
– If you find a beach that gathers glass, keep it secret! Just kidding (maybe).
– Check your tide times. You want the lowest tide possible to give you maximum benefit, especially around the full moon.
– Come prepared. You’ll need a sturdy waterproof bag to gather your haul. Also appropriate footwear if you need to scramble around the rocks. Don’t do what I do and rock-climb in flip-flops, I can tell you now it’s a bad idea . My husband wears his fishing waders so he can go out as far as possible.
– Start down at the water’s edge and work your way up the beach zig-zagging back and forth. As the tide comes in, you won’t feel like you’ve missed out on the area that is now a foot under water. Beachcombing is the only context in which I experience FOMO.
– Around the base of cliffs and rocky areas are usually a sure thing.
– In the centre of the beach, pebbley patches are great for catching pieces of seaglass. If the waves deposit small stones there, then there’s a good chance it also deposits pieces of glass which are a similar size or weight.
– I find it helps usually if, rather than frantically searching with eyes darting here there and everywhere, I soften my gaze a little and bring it right down. Then whatever jumps out at me I investigate further. Or I stand/sit in one spot for a while and slowly move my eyes around the area surrounding me. Often you will miss something if you are quickly and desperately searching.
– If you see a white fragment of sea pottery, flip it over. If you’re lucky it will have a beautiful pattern, texture or maker’s stamp on it! Interesting pottery pieces usually land face down, like buttered toast.
– Sea glass usually looks best when it is glistening wet and shiny from the tide. Then it dries opaque and dulled down and you may wonder what you saw in it to pick it up. Although frosty glass is beautiful in its own right, I personally prefer a sheen that increases transparency and intensifies the colour. To achieve this look at home, I dab a teeny tiny bit of coconut oil (is there anything it *can’t* be used for?!) and rub it right in to the glass to buff it up to a lovely satiny shine.
– Keep a close eye on the tide and please be careful on slippery rocks.
– Don’t take chances. As in love as I am with the sea I am equally respectful/terrified of how formidable it can be.
– Keep your phone on you and ring the Coastguard
if you find yourself in trouble and trapped by the tide.
– Recent RNLI
adverts give a very good tip; if you are suddenly plunged into the water you must fight your instinct to start frantically swimming. Instead, allow yourself to float until the shock has left your body, and then attempt to swim to safety. I know that obviously you won’t be beachcombing from a height, but it’s a valuable lesson to keep under your cap nonetheless when you are near water.
I hope you now feel armed with the information you need to harvest the bounty that the ocean gifts to you. My daughters tell me that the Mermaids leave sea glass gems along the beach for us to find. I like that ️
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