Sea glass is the end product of discarded bottles and glass, recycled by the ocean over time into pieces of smooth, colorful gems. These remnants are a bittersweet reminder of pollution on the shores, but what was once trash may rise to become treasure at the Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum. The museum has been offering monthly beach glass jewelry workshops since January, as a means to attract newcomers, provide a fun and interactive crafting experience and build community.
Since the beginning, these workshops have been a success. According to host Amy Bruder, over 50 people came to the first workshop. It proved to be too many, preventing personal interaction among her and the attendees. Now, the limit is 25, which allows for the comfortable exchange of ideas.
“There were so many more people than I thought would be there and everyone was so kind! Supplies were easily shared, advice was helpful and reciprocated, and everyone made beautiful pieces,” said Kristine Purcell, a Lyft driver from Port Hueneme.
While the attendees may (and usually do) bring their own sea glass, many materials are provided. Bruder also brings her Dremel tool, used to drill holes so that pieces can hang on chains. Attendees have also begun wire wrapping and covering small bits in resin to design unique jewelry.
Author Diane Mautner was a novice whose interest in arts and crafts led her to the workshop.
“Being in a group and socializing and sharing ideas made the classes even more enjoyable. Because the class was held in the museum, we were able to learn about the history of Port Hueneme and speak with people who grew up there,” Mautner said.
Skill levels vary, from beginners to experienced artisans. The workshops cater to children as well. Bruder describes herself as an advanced beginner silversmith, having acquired the skills to solder sterling silver jewelry by watching online videos. Subsequently, she has created rings and pendants from sterling silver using sea glass collected from Hueneme Beach. Her appreciation for sea glass enables her to help others tap into their creativity.
Longtime collector Sharon Morris of Port Hueneme had kept her sea glass in a bowl for years until an invitation led her to the workshop. She used her best pieces to make several necklaces.
“All the pieces had their own personality and I was proud of how they all turned out,” she said.
Three events have been offered so far, and each has been quite popular. Several attendees have come more than once. Because the materials and supplies made available for each workshop vary, each experience appears to be unique.
So, will this be a continuous event?
“Originally, the idea was to do a few beach glass jewelry workshops and then move on to other beachy crafts like driftwood wind chimes and sailor’s knots. But even though people want to do those things as well, they don’t want to stop doing the jewelry workshops, so we may end up adding additional workshops during the month,” explained Bruder.
“How resourceful and creative human beings can be,” said attendee Wanda Stroud of Simi Valley. “We polluted the earth, shame on us, with discarded bottles which the earth processed. Now we seek out the processed bottles like they are precious gems! The gifts from our planet are truly beautiful, but we must not abuse the process.”
Beach Glass Jewelry Workshops take place each month at the Port Hueneme Historical Society Museum, 220 Market St., Port Hueneme. The next workshop takes place on Sunday, April 23. For more information, call 488-0585 or visit www.facebook.com/PortHuenemeHistoricalSocietyMuseum.