Searching for sea glass: Interview with jewellery maker Gavin Hardy
Ellie Harrison joins sea glass jewellery maker, Gavin Hardy, in search of sea glass - glass smoothed by the tide and highly valued by collectors all over the world - a legacy of the town's Victorian glass industry.
We speak to Gavin about what inspired his love of sea glass and his tips for hunting for this beautiful treasure.
What inspired you to start collecting sea jewels?
I have always lived very close to the coastline, and had a passion to pick up the things that are interesting and unusual. I have collected sea glass since I was little.
As soon as my own children were old enough to walk, it became a fun thing to do with them, so the serious collecting started then.
I never really thought about what we would actually do with the beach treasure we collected - until I spoke with a lady on the beach one day, who said that people made things from the sea glass that they found. That started the idea process of what I could do with the things we found.
Where's your favourite beach combing spot?
I have tried to beach comb as many areas of the UK to find the best for sea glass.
However, because of the uniqueness of the finds here at Seaham, it's still my favourite. The quality of the sea glass is far better than any other beach.
What makes a good find?
A good find for me is one that is fully frosted in appearance - all the way around the sea glass with little to no chips.
The best beaches to look for sea glass are slightly pebbly and shingle beaches with strong tides. The beach acts like a large rock tumbler creating smooth pieces of glass.
Photo credit: BBC Countryfile
Other things to look out for are whether the area has any history of dumping rubbish close to the coast. As these areas are excellent for finding unusual pieces too, things like old glass bottle stoppers and glass marbles, which are highly desirable to sea glass collectors.
How long does it take to make a piece?
The time it takes me to make a piece of jewellery differs dependant on the style. A simple pendant can be made in minutes, which for me is great, I like something simple that really shows off the piece of sea glass making it the star of the show, however a complicated bracelet where each piece has to be individually set may take a few days.
Seaham Waves is a family business, which hand collects all of its seaglass from beaches along the North East of England's Coastline and transforms it into unique pieces of jewellery.