Behind the Glass

The initial spark for this book came in March of 2001 while I was visiting a good friend at his new retreat in southeastern Missouri. We were beginning a trek down the Black River, and when I mentioned that my wife made sea glass jewelry he noted we should produce a book on sea glass, one that would be suitable for every coastal home. Shortly thereafter my wife was asked to speak about her jewelry at a seminar at the Shrewsbury Institute in Kennedyville, Maryland. Months later a sea-glass collector from Hawaii emailed us looking for advice on finding ideal spots to collect sea glass, and my lengthy response prompted her also to urge me to write a book. During small exhibitions I kept hearing the same questions over and over of what was this sea glass originally, and how did it develop its luster. This prompted me to probe much deeper into the glass industry. Seeing the awestruck faces of my wife’s customers when they were viewing our collection of sea glass confirmed for me that a book really had to be done. If for no other reason, to share some of these stunning pieces with the masses before they were off the market.

Great effort went into every detail. Especially time-consuming was determining the rarity scale based on the thousands of sea-glass shards we had collected over the years. Before finally putting the sea-glass rarity scale in its final order we realized we had amassed a study group of close to 30,000 pieces of sea glass. While most of the collection was retrieved from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, we also had studied pieces from Spain, California, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware and even from Ohio’s Lake Erie. Still we had not a single piece of true orange. On page 67 you will see an extremely rare piece of orange nestled in shells. It came from Lake Erie and was provided by a friend of our photographer. To validate our claims on sea-glass rarity by color, we then consulting the history of the bottle and glass industries for two years, gathering information from experts and studying a vast number of books and internet references. Sea-glass collectors may find the rare colors more frequently than one noted in the "uncommon" category, but it is highly unlikely that many will find shards identified in the category we designated as "extremely rare".

In May of 2002, while our research was underway,we went to an opening at the Carla Massoni Gallery in Chestertown, Maryland. Just after entering I saw two dramatic images of beach stones and seashells by photographer Celia Pearson. I pointed them out to my wife, who responded immediately, “You have to speak to her!” When I introduced myself to Celia and started to explain that we were beginning a book about sea glass, her response, too, was immediately positive: “Please let me shoot it!” Just minutes from home and in just minutes of conversation, we had found a great match of skills for this project. We found many more good matches over the following years of this journey, but there is no question that Celia’s brilliant talent helped make Pure Sea Glass worth every minute of work.