Sunday, March 2, 2014

"I must be a mermaid...

I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living." ~ Anais Nin

Legend has it that mermaids could change the mighty course of nature but were forbidden to do so by Neptune, the stern, watchful god of the sea.  One dark, storm-ravaged night, with sails ripping and masts cracking, a schooner fought to find safety in Friendly Cove off Nootka Island in the San Juans. 

The ship was familiar to the mermaid who swam along its side since she had weathered many crossings with the ship and its captain. As the ship heeled in the violent wind, the captain lost his hold on the wheel, tumbling perilously close to the raging sea. 

In an instant, the mermaid calmed the wind and tamed the waves, changing the course of nature and saving the life of a man she had grown to love from afar.  For her impetuous act, Neptune banished the sobbing mermaid to the oceans depths, condemning her for eternity never to surface or swim with the ships again. To this day, her gleaming tears wash up on the beaches  as sea glass . . . crystalline treasures in magic sea colors, an eternal reminder of true love. 
Alas, the tale of sea glass is far more appealing than broken shards of glass that have been ravaged by water and time!  Sea glass is actually from salt water, and beach glass is from fresh water.  Sea glass has a natural frosted appearance because of the weathering process whereas beach glass has a different ph balance and it less frosted.
 I have developed an interest in sea glass because I have a local artisan who is creating jewelry and ornaments for me. Catherine Smith is a retired teacher (who probably has taught many of my college students), and, when she heard she was my blog feature of the week, she messaged me...Can you mention how lucky I am to have had two careers / jobs that I love???? That is rather evident as exemplified by the photos here--this is just a small sampling, and my photo skills are not the best today.



Although one can buy this glass, Catherine roams the local beaches searching for treasures.  One has to remember that the ocean used to be where waterfront communities worldwide would discard their trash because the water carried it away.  According to history, landfills were a health hazard because they were filled with vermin that carried dangerous diseases like the Plague. The world was a much larger place in those days and the population was much smaller. It just made good sense at the time, and this practice is still followed in many third world countries.

It is fascinating when you learn about the different colors.  Cobalt is the "sapphire" of the beach and came from apothecary bottles such as Milk of Magnesia, Vick's Vapo Rub, Noxema, Nivea, and Bromo Seltzer.  Red is rare.  It would trace its roots to tail lights on old cars or lantern lenses.  Anchor Hocking made Schlitz Beer bottles in ruby in the 1950s.  
Pinks, purples, and pale colors came from perfume bottles or art glass.  Some lavender glass was clear glass that was clarified with magnesium (lavender) or selenium (pink).  Glass is clarified because the sand from which glass is made is actually amber.  Green, brown, aqua glass shards come from beer, soda, or clorox bottles.
The pits in the surface of the glass, giving it its soft feel, come from a process called "hydration", where the soda and lime used in making the glass is leached out of the glass, leaving the small pits. The soda and lime also often react with minerals in the sea water, forming new mineral deposits on the surface that give the glass a "sparkling" appearance.  
So, in my never ending attempt to feature American made and, even better, local, Catherine's creations will be available.   The ultimate shore remembrance for you or for a special gift!  Not made in China..not mass produced...keeping it local and Jersey proud!
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.” ~William James

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