Monday, November 7, 2011
Vitrine: Beach Glass
Last year while visiting the historic waterfront town of Port Townsend, WA, I heard rumors of a stretch of shore so famed for excellent beachcombing that it had come to be known as "Glass Beach". I set out from downtown in search of a spot to match my optimistic mental vision: pale sands strewn with Japanese glass fishing floats, studded with cobalt chunks of patent medicine bottles.
Hours later I had found anemones, kelp, detached crab claws, and even a gumshoe chiton, but no glass. Tired and discouraged, I flopped down on a stretch of sand and looked out at the grey waters of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca.
When I finally turned my attention back to the beach, I saw that I was surrounded by tiny pieces of glass. In 15 minutes of pecking and hunting I garnered a small pile of pebbles--amber, green, clear, and, rarest of all, cobalt (perhaps Port Townsend was never big on patent medicines?). Other than their color, these tiny bits barely hint at their former forms, being so much closer to sand itself than to anything that ever held liquids or sliced unsuspecting feet.