Ocean City Today

Eleventh annual Sea Glass Festival in OC this weekend

By Kara Hallissey | Aug 25, 2016

(Aug. 26, 2016) Sea glass jewelry, home décor, crafts, artwork and stained glass are a few of the gems visitors can find at the 11th annual Sea Glass Festival this weekend at the Ocean City convention center on 40th Street.

This is the second year the North American Sea Glass Association has hosted this event in the resort.

Festivities kick off tonight, Friday, with a Sea Glass Soiree from 5-9 p.m., which gives attendees the opportunity to see what vendors have to offer first while they sip on wine and cheese, listen to traditional island tunes from steel drum band Island Fusion or hang out with the Chesapeake Mermaid, a girl who emulates the mystical creature to bring awareness of animals and the bay.

Admission is $10 at the door. Posters and totes will be on sale for $5. There will be a photo booth and raffle giveaways.

“The Sea Glass Soiree is the first of its kind for the North American Sea Glass Festival,” said Kim Hannon, president of the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA). “It’ll provide a fun, festive atmosphere while attendees shop and visit their sea glass friends. Bartenders on hand is a first for our festival. Each piece of sea glass is unique, which means pieces are one-of-a-kind.”

The festival will continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with at least 60 sea glass collectors, artists, authors and photographers sharing their collections and history about sea glass from all over the world. Books, photographs, beach-themed items and mosaic art were created from sea glass found on the shores of oceans, lakes, rivers and bays from a variety of locations including Greece and the Chesapeake Bay.

Many vendors take special interest in children and help educate them about sea glass in addition to bottle collecting.

“The primary goal of NASGA is to establish a community of informed collectors and sellers of sea glass that are educated on the characteristics and significance of genuine sea glass,” Hannon said. “Children love collecting sea glass and other items from the beach. Our education area will have a spot for children to identify shells and a sea glass color chart.”

A Collectors Area will be separate from other exhibitions to show off treasures found by participating artisans in Room 209 of the convention center. There will also be a shard identification room where experts can identify sea glass.

On Saturday, two sea glass experts will be on hand to share their perspectives on collecting gems from the sea.

Mary McCarthy will discuss “Sea Glass Marbles from Around the Globe,” which will explore the origins and history of the different types of marbles that wash up on shorelines including a display of sea marbles from more than 20 countries and waterways from 12-1 p.m.

Author Richard LaMotte will follow with “The Lure and Mysteries of Sea Glass” providing insight into the art of identifying unique shards in addition to reviewing the basic science of sea glass formation from 2-3 p.m.

LaMotte will also be available throughout the festival to sign copies of his recent book, “The Lure of Sea Glass: Our Connection to Nature’s Gems.”

The book includes stories people have told LaMotte about their search for meaning in sea glass, identifying historic pieces, exploring rare sea glass shards, taking a look at the future of sea glass and the specific characteristics of collections from 14 coastal regions throughout the United States.

LaMotte’s wife, Nancy, is a jewelry designer and sea glass from their personal collection will be on display.

“A lot of vendors are avid collectors and have exhibits of their own personal sea glass,” said Valerie Weston, past president of the North American Sea Glass Association. “It is fun to see sea glass from everywhere. Ancient pieces from Greece to relatively newer pieces from the Chesapeake Bay.”

The Shard of the Year contest is a huge highlight of the event.

Sea glass collectors can submit pieces until 3 p.m. on Saturday and the winner will be announced at 5 p.m.

One grand prize winner will receive $500 with 10 additional prizes of $100 each awarded to winners in categories including pottery/ceramics, whimsical/toys, bottle stopper, most unusual, historical, art glass, marbles, buttons, figural and new category this year, sea glass bottles.

Last year, a couple hundred people participated in the contest, although up to a thousand people have submitted sea glass treasures in the past.

About 5,000 people are expected to attend the sea glass festival this weekend.

The North American Sea Glass Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating others on the characteristics and significance of sea glass.

“We are a nonprofit dedicated to educating people on the authenticity of sea glass,” Weston said. “We are the oldest festival in North America and combined with our educational effort, there is something for everyone.”

A portion of the festival proceeds will benefit regional and national efforts of shoreline conservation, preservation and beautification including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Baltimore National Aquarium‘s Marine Animal Rescue Program and Chesapeake Bay Conservation Fund.

“It is set apart from all other sea glass festivals in that we are the founding organization for genuine sea glass artisans and it is regarded as the premier sea glass festival in the country,” Hannon said.

The Sea Glass Soiree takes place Friday at 5-9 p.m. and costs $10 followed by the Sea Glass Festival on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the convention center on 40th Street. Admission is $5 at the door on Saturday, and children under 12 are admitted free.

“We would like to make Ocean City our home for the festival if we have enough attendance,” Weston said.

For more information, visit www.seaglassassociation.org/festival.

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