Susan King started collecting sea glass as a young girl growing up in Cape Breton, N.S. “My mom said I always had rocks, sea glass, and sand in my pockets,” she says. “She still jokes about how she had to be careful with the laundry.”
Today she owns Ceilidh’s Sea Glass Creations in Lower Sackville, N.S., and makes sea glass art, ornaments, and jewelry and driftwood art. She shows and sells her work at craft markets, and stores including Shore Things in Eastern Passage, N.S., and the Celtic Sisters Gifts shop in Canso, N.S.
King shows East Coast Living how to create a unique piece of sea glass art, and shares tips on where to find the best sea glass.
Step 1: Gather your materials
You need sea glass, cardstock, glue, and a picture frame with matting.
If you don’t have a sea-glass stash like King, you can find it on beaches across the region. “It’s there to be found,” says King, who uses only natural sea glass she collects herself, mainly from beaches in Cape Breton. You can buy sea glass online or at a craft supply stores.
Step 2: Select your sea glass
Spread your sea glass on the table and arrange it to find the pieces that work best together. Take your time. Your daisy can have pointy petals or round, a long stem or short. No two pictures will be the same because each piece of sea glass is unique.
Look for long, thin pieces for the stem. Next choose pieces that look like leaves. Choose a round piece of glass or a small stone for the daisy’s centre. Select a variety of sea glass pieces to lay around the stone as petals to see what looks best to you.
Step 3: Arrange your sea glass
Arrange the sea glass you’ve selected on to your cardstock. Cardstock is thicker and more durable than regular paper. You can buy individual sheets at craft stores and trim to fit your frame.
Centre the daisy on the background or tilt it to appear to be blowing in the wind. Add a second daisy if you have the space.
Step 4: Glue
King uses Elmer’s Craft Bond, a type of wood glue. It’s strong but won’t soak through the cardstock. A dab on the back of each piece of sea glass is all you need. Glue each piece onto the background. Let it dry for a couple hours before lifting it.
Step 5: Finishing touches
King uses custom-made recycled frames with custom matting but says you can find a simple frame at a craft-supply store. Choose a frame that is deep enough to showcase your piece and comes with matting, which will lend your work a professional touch. You can also find second-hand frames at yard sales and thrift shops.
Sign your piece, pop it in the frame, and proudly display your art.
Seeking sea glass
The sea glass King uses is natural, collected mainly in Cape Breton at beaches in the summer. White, green, and brown are the most common colours. Blue, red, orange, and yellow pieces are harder to find.
King recommends combing the beach at low tide. After high winds or a storm, you find more sea glass. On a leisurely trip to the beach, King fills a sandwich-size bag.
Ensure whatever sea glass you collect is cooked, sea-glass-speak for rounded without sharp edges, says King. Sea glass needs to be tumbled by the waves for many years before it becomes smooth and safe to handle.
Grand Manan, N.B.
This sand and stone beach near the ferry terminal features intertidal pools at low tide. Watch for sand dollars. Brown sand dollars are alive, so step carefully. You can collect the white ones.
Souris Beach Provincial Park
Start out an hour before low tide and walk to the rocky end of the beach. Here you’ll find a bounty of sea glass and a lovely stroll along the dunes.
South Shore, N.S.
Start at Queensland Beach and walk east toward Cleveland
Beach. The rocky shoreline between the two sand beaches
offers lots of possibility.
Salmon Cove Sands
Conception Bay, N.L.
This heart-shaped beach features grey sand and, locals say, lots
of sea glass. Make time for a hike along the 2-kilometre trail before or after your hunt.