We’ve worked in the travel business for many years here at Totally Spain and have long realised that people travel for very different reasons. This was reiterated to us when we recently prepared a package for a couple collecting sea glass. It wasn’t an activity we were familiar with before but there’s a whole world of people out there – walking the beaches, collecting the glass and displaying it or using it for jewellery and other crafts. So we thought we’d share a bit about it here in case it’s something you’d like to know more about…
Sea Glass Collecting in Spain – What, Why, How & Where
1 What is Sea Glass?
It is weathered glass. Wave-action and salt water are the forces that give it its frosted look and a satiny feel. It is also called beach glass and even mermaid’s tears.
2 What are sea glass collectors looking for?
‘Seaglassers’ are looking for completely frosted glass with no sharp edges, chips, visible defects or other imperfections. Some colours are more rare and therefore of more interest. Forget about your common greens, browns and white. Collectors are seeking out red, black, pink, orange, deep yellow, peach and deep purple sea glass. When it comes to the shape – organically shaped pieces are more suited to jewellery making and the less symetric or more unusual shapes are more suited to mosaics and other craft projects. The more serious collectors will understand how the different colours of glass were manufactured, are able to age the piece and can connect it to its manufacturer or a shipping route – from which it was turfed overboard. They will often recognise the manufacturer of a piece of glass from just a tiny shard. See this Martha Stewart’s interview with Richard Lamotte, President of the North American Sea Glass Association, where Lamotte explains how glass colours are connected to a period in history – e.g. orange glass is connected to the art-deco period, and how certain colours can be dated by their manufacturing methods eg yellow glass had uranium-content up until 1940.
3 When’s the perfect time to go sea glass collecting in Spain?
Whilst many collectors live by the coast and search on a daily basis, they will also plan more intensive seaglassing sessions after storms and hurricanes. They will consult tide charts to know when the twice-monthly tides that occur at full and new moon cycles are happening. The hard-core beachcombers will plan searches around tides such as the 18-monthly perigean tides. Sea glass hunters will also plan holidays to places where unusual sea glass can be found – either along old shipping routes or near interesting and historic glass production plants. Serious collectors will even have picked up a kayak to get to the most remote beaches off the beaten track!
4 What do you need to go sea glass collecting in Spain?
In addition to a beach that isn’t industrially cleaned, you’ll need a sturdy pair of shoes (glass is washed up on rocky or stony sections of the beach) and a cotton bag to collect your treasure. Remember to keep an eye out for the incoming waves! And before you bring a few sackfuls home – check out this video on what’s worth keeping and what you’ll need to chuck back into the water…
5 Want to try sea glass collecting in Spain?
You might want to check out some Spanish collectors – we’ve come across collectors all over – including the Playa de Castelldefels near Barcelona which is on the trainline from Barcelona and in Vigo, Galicia. We’ve also been told that Liencres in Cantabria on the Northern coast is a great source. If you are interested in beachcombing in Spain, have a look at these suggested locations for sea glass in Spain. And you might want to read more of our posts on travelling around Spain & Portugal.