Multi colored pieces of sea glass found near Santa Cruz, CA.
West Coast Sea Glass Multies
A crescent moon appears on this sea glass from a 1970s art glass studio.
End-of-day sea glass found on the California coast.
Years ago I came across a blue piece of sea glass at a remote beach near my home just north of Santa Cruz, California. It was gorgeous polished smooth and so very different from the sea glass I would usually find. It captivated me with its unique layers of cobalt blue and opalescent white swirls.
After doing some research, I discovered that this beautiful multi-colored piece came from a 1970s art studio. Glass blowers would discard their broken bits and rejects into a nearby creek that flowed into the Pacific Ocean (a practice since ended by the EPA). These unique pieces are often called "end of day" sea glass and are prized by sea glass hunters around the world.
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Rare, mushroom shaped sea glass produced during the glass blowing process.
Krista Hammond chasing down sea glass near Santa Cruz, California.
For more information on this type of sea glass click Art Glass Sea Glass.
It takes a very rare combination of factors to create sea glass from art glass. First, you need talented artists blowing glass, which is, sadly, a dying art form. Second, their art studio must be on or very near the ocean. And third, these "end of day" pieces have to make their way somehow into the ocean. Only after that can the sea and sand to work their magic for the decades it takes to create these unique and rare bits of artisan sea glass.
With glass production dating to the 1800s and its many glass factories located along the North Sea coast, England has been the primary source for flawless art glass. It was common practice for factories to dump their "end of day" pieces into the sea. In fact, English art glass is so accepted that the term "English Multies" is used to encompass the art glass found there.
"I discovered that this beautiful multi-colored piece came from a 1970s art studio."
Art glass from Santa Cruz is much younger, dating to the early 1970s. Most of what I find is flawless, thanks to the constant wave action. What really sets this sea glass apart, however, are the artistic color combinations, including amazing oranges and rare rainbow iridescent shards. We occasionally find pieces we call "mushrooms" which have a distinct shape from the glass blowing process itself. To find a sea glass mushroom makes for a very good day!
Finding these elusive gems is no easy task. We have to get wet to get the truly good pieces. With water temperatures in the 50's a wetsuit is mandatory. There are also crashing waves and dangerous undertow to negotiate if you want to find the really great pieces. It is truly hard-core sea glass hunting and even with numb fingers, bruised shins and the occasional ear-full of sand, I feel blessed to find these amazing and rare one-of-a-kind art glass pieces.
Krista Hammond collects sea glass around Monterey Bay and is owner of Santa Cruz Sea Glass.