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With perfect weather, great crowds, and terrific vendors, a wonderful time was had by all last month at the 10th annual North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland. We were fortunate to be able to meet and talk to a myriad of other sea glass artists and sea glass enthusiasts from across the U.S. It is always so fascinating to see what other artists are creating with their sea glass pieces.
There were more than 4000 attendees and over 64 vendors filling the OC convention center. 650 of the entries made it to the Shard of the Year (SOTY) contest, which is the World Series of sea glass. Although my favorite entry did not win, it did get best in the “art glass category”. The owner of the shard, Virgil Hibbs, had found his phenomenal piece of sea glass in Northeast England. I was fortunate to have met Virgil at the Lewes Delaware Sea Glass Festival last June. I was thrilled when he allowed me to hold the shard and take a photo of it. It is one of the most drop dead gorgeous pieces of sea glass that ever rolled up on a beach.
The winner of the SOTY contest, Earl Brown, found his beautiful teal piece in Fenwick, Delaware, just a week before the show. It is believed to be from a ship’s signal lantern.
In addition to the grand prize, the prize categories include pottery/ceramics, whimsical/toys, bottle stoppers, most unusual, historical, art glass, marbles, buttons, and figural. Five dollars gets you an entry card on which you can enter up to three pieces. Enthusiasts entered a wide range of sea glass —from one piece of plain white glass up to the most amazing bottle that was found on a beach several continents away. (See a complete list of this year’s winners on the NASGA Facebook page.)
The lecture series is one of the most popular and important elements of the festival. Kimberly Hannon, Vice President of the NASGA said “We had a huge turnout for our lectures, which leads me to believe that we must continue to include the educational sector of the festival, which would strengthen NASGA’s mission.”
There were more amazing sea glass finds in the special area designated for collectors. The sea glass dress was one of my favorite items in the area, although I do think wearing it might weigh you down.
Experts were also on hand to help attendees identify the sources of their sea glass. It is exciting for collectors to discover that their pieces of sea glass originated from a particular bottle, plate, or design ware of years or even centuries ago.
If you have never attended a sea glass festival, you must put it on your bucket list. I assure you that you will not be disappointed. You will meet sea glass enthusiasts from around the world who are as totally addicted to the hunt as you are. It is an excellent way to learn about some of your special pieces, as well as a terrific place to socialize and share sea-glassing experiences with other “hunters”.