Recycled Treasures

Recycled Treasures


Mermaid tears. Beach glass. Sea glass.

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It’s been called by many names. What they’re all referring to is the usually small pieces of glass that washes up on the beach after spending its time in the ocean being tumbled around and worn down to recycled pieces of beauty.

Collector’s and hobbyists can be seen combing beaches at low tide looking for these glorious specimens. Heads turned down, walking slowly, occasionally bending down to pick up seemingly nothing. But what you don’t see is the treasure hiding in their hands, about to be added to the rest of their days’ collection.

Recently, I’ve discovered the allure for the search. I’d never actually seen beach glass before. Not in person. There’s countless pictures and articles about it online. But whenever I went to a beach and tried looking around (passively, I’ll admit), there was none to be seen.

The first pieces of sea glass I've ever found
The first pieces of sea glass I’ve ever found

Until a few weeks ago.

I was walking along a beach in Des Moines, not too far from my house. I was having a rough day and figured a nice little walk at a new park would do me some good. Walking along the beach gave me everything I needed and more. It brought back the calm that I was looking for, while unlocking something more. I was looking around for interesting shells and rocks, things to take photos of, and anything else of interest. That’s when I saw it. A small, shiny rock mixed with all the rest.

I say rock because that’s what I actually thought it was when I first bent down to pick it up. But as I sifted it out from the other rocks and what little sand there was on this beach, I found that it was actually a piece of glass. A worn and weathered piece of recycled treasure. I continued along the beach and came across a couple more pieces before the sun was mostly set and it was time to go home.

But my curiosity was piqued. I returned home and jumped right onto the internet to learn more about the treasure I had found. I learned that the clear and brown/orange pieces were the most common to be found, followed by shades of green. (Learn more about where the glass comes from and its rarity here) I learned that there was a beach in California named the Sea Glass beach for it was covered in these gorgeous pieces of glass.

In my searches, I also found that there were supposedly a number of beaches in Washington that boasted a claim to high amounts of glass. One of which was nearby in Seattle; Alki Beach.

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So the next morning, bright and early for low tide (which I had learned was the best time to look for the glass), I set out to visit Alki and see just how much glass it really had to offer.

It took a while to find much of anything. I started off near the mini statue of liberty on the west side of the beach and worked my way across. I sifted through the cool sands and found nothing. As I started to move into rockier terrain however, there was more to find. Lots more. It seemed like I couldn’t take a single step without finding a couple of pieces.

None of the pieces were particularly big. But that was okay. I was enjoying my time regardless just because of the sheer amount of what I was finding. And little did I know, I was building a new hobby.

Over the next couple of weeks and months, I spent many mornings here at Alki looking for more glass and searching for bigger or better pieces. More colors, different shapes. Each piece unique in its own way. I even tried other beaches, but none had the claim that Alki does.

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I haven’t yet decided what I want to do with all the glass I’ve collected. I’ve thought about making jewelry, “stained glass” creations, pictures, incorporating them in paintings, and much more. Pinterest has surely had a help in coming up with interesting ideas. For now, they sit separated by color in glass vases on my windowsill. Waiting to be added to or to be brought down and turned into something new.

Recycled art from recycled treasures.

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