One man's trash is another's treasure

Inaugural event celebrates sea glass

By David Percival 06/07/2012

If your idea of summer beach fun doesn’t include polished shards of glass, then you might not be a sea glass enthusiast.


On June 4 and 5, beaches saw the highest and lowest tides, respectively, of the summer, ideal conditions for sea glass hunting. Just ask Carol Barcellos.


“It’s the thrill of the hunt,” said Barcellos, owner of B. on Main in Ventura. “It’s like finding little gems on the beach.  It takes patience and it’s kind of like a Zen thing.”


B. on Main will host its inaugural Sea Glass Festival on Saturday, June 9. Local sea glass jewelers will be on hand to demonstrate their craft, and the most unusual and beautiful pieces of sea glass will be judged in a prize-packed contest.


But what exactly is sea glass?


“Sea glass, also referred to as beach glass, are remnants from historic objects, such as old medicine bottles or canning jars that were discarded into the sea long ago,” said Ellie Mercier, secretary of the board of directors for the North American Sea Glass Association. “After enduring years or decades of exposure to harsh elements of the world’s oceans, the objects are then transformed into shiny, smooth, rounded gems, altered only by the powers of Mother Nature.”


While sea glass can be found along the shore in a variety of colors, some are more sought after than others.


“There are colors that are rare [such as] red glass,” said Barcellos. “Everybody wants to find a piece of red glass.”


Contemplating the long journey of each piece of glass can be nearly as exciting as discovering it among the seaweed and sand.


“Pieces of red glass can often be traced back to the tail or brake light of an old boat or car, which were manufactured from glass prior to the 1940s,” said Mercier. “If a beachcomber is lucky enough to discover a rare shard of orange sea glass, he or she could be holding the remains of a fireball, a glass globe used for fire extinguishing purposes centuries ago.”


Aileen Cabral, who has transformed sea glass into jewelry for eight years, will be present at Saturday’s festival.


All of the sea glass jewelers will raffle off a piece of their jewelry at the event. In addition to jewelry, people who attend can look forward to meeting local photographer Jim Martin, who will be on hand to sign copies of his book Inspirations, a photo journal of the Ventura area.


The first Sea Glass Festival is Saturday, June 9, 10 a.m.– 6 p.m., 337 E. Main St., Ventura. Call 805-643-9309 for more information. 

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