Nancy and Gigi O’Hanlon

“I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky”

The first line of this poem describes me and runs through my head almost daily. My earliest fond memories are walking the beaches of the Jersey shore  with my mother searching for sea shells. Many years later my daughter Gigi and I comb the beach near our summer home  in Avalon NJ looking for the ocean’s gifts.  I’m not sure  exactly how we came to notice the jewel like pieces laid at our feet, known as sea glass, but  since then it has been a daily summer ritual to head to the beach at low tide or after a storm and look for these lovely sea tumbled gems.

Since the early years of the coastal trade, whaling industry, and the rum running days of prohibition, the Jersey Coast has been called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. With thousands of shipwrecks dating from 1600 to present, it is fun to imagine where this glass may have originated. A lady’s perfume bottle, a bootleg bottle of rum or perhaps something as unromantic as a party boat in the 60’s or sadly just off shore dumping.   There is  even a legend  that sea glass is actually formed from the tears of mermaids who cry when a sailor is lost at sea.

Where the glass comes from and how it lands at our feet will always be one of the happy mysteries of the glass itself. Each piece is a joy and a surprise to find, each piece is cherished and each piece is different. When we sit down to make art from the glass we never know what the piece will look like when it is done. We let it guide us as to color of the beads or shape of the wire. Giving the glass  a chance to sparkle and delight again, completes the process.

It’s good to be a seeker.
But sooner or later you have to be a finder.
And then it is good to give what you have found,
A gift into the world for whoever will accept it.

  Jonathan Livingston Seagull


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