Ocean glass

Ocean glass, also known as sea glass or mermaids’ tears, can be found on most beaches. These are glass shards, which sharp edges got smoothed over the years by getting tumbled in water and sand. Their once shiny glass surface becomes frosted-looking after so many years.

For the past six or seven years I have brought back mermaids’ tears from our annual holiday vacations in places such as Virginia/USA, Croatia, Japan, Faroe Islands, Crete, the Azores, and the most recent one, Sicily.

I have always put them in a glass jar, and had one of my children label it (location and date). Over the years, I have come to learn a bit more about these pretty pebbles. As I usually add a couple of stones, snails, shells, etc. to the jar, each jar has taken on its own life in color, smell, and drinking culture.

By far, the Crete jar is smelling the strongest. One dip with the nose and your senses transport you to where the fishing boots are coming in.

The Faroe Islands jar contains mostly brown mermaids’ tears, which reflects their tendency to drink more beer from brown bottles in the Northern European countries.

The most beautiful mermaids’ tears, and best find so far,  are from the Sicilian island of Favignana. This was truly mermaids’ tears heaven as there were so many everywhere and it became clear that beach-combing was not a popular activity on this windy island (snorkeling is, I believe).

A good mermaids’ tear takes between 15 and 60 years of being tumbled around in the ocean. Some beaches might offer mostly premature ones (five-year old glass shards), while others, such as the beaches of  Favignana  offered many overly weathered, hence the most beautiful sea glass. Favignana also offered more white ones than other locations.

Ocean glass floating in the sky

Another thing I learned – while you ask your son to hold up the glass, make sure he does not have an itchy nose. A few tumbled over the fourth floor balcony, a few shattered on the floor. These mermaids’ tears still break like regular glass.

Besides putting them in a jar, you could also try your hands at making jewelry. For a few ideas, visit these websites:

Tears from the Deep and West Coast Sea Glass

The term mermaids’ tears itself is often also referred to in a negative way –  plastic polluting the oceans.

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