Cry­ing ‘mer­maid tears’

Thou­sands take in Mer­maid Tears Sea Glass Fes­ti­val at Souris Light­house

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY MITCH MACDONALD Mitchell.macdonald@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/Mitch_PEI

From bright red and blue pieces to per­fectly pre­served bot­tles that date back more than 100 years, there were thou­sands of tiny trea­sures for sea glass lovers at the Souris light­house this week­end.

Or­ga­niz­ers es­ti­mated that up to 5,000 peo­ple went through the Mer­maid Tears Sea Glass Fes­ti­val hosted at the light­house grounds.

Joanne Roche, spe­cial events co­or­di­na­tor for the Town of Souris, said it’s a fit­ting lo­ca­tion with the com­mu­nity’s beach be­ing highly re­garded among P.E.I.’s beach glass col­lec­tors.

“Peo­ple have found some stun­ning pieces on Souris Beach,” said Roche. “(It’s great hav­ing it) up here at the light­house be­cause you get the view and some peo­ple kind of get the bug and go down to the beach hop­ing to find a win­ning piece for next year.”

Apart from a num­ber of ven­dors selling glass, the fes­ti­val also hosts a Best Shard Con­test with a num­ber of cat­e­gories in­clud­ing best sea glass, best pot­tery or ce­ramic piece and the most un­usual piece.

While sea glass pieces of every shape and size were cele- brated at the fes­ti­val, not all are cre­ated equally.

Teri Hall, one of the com­pe­ti­tion’s judges and au­thor of “A Sea Glass Jour­ney: Ebb and Flow,” ex­plained to the crowd what makes a great piece of sea glass.

It largely comes down to the ac­tual colour and con­di­tion of the glass.

“We grade sea glass by the most un­usual colours, turquoise, orange, red and yel­low down to the more com­mon colours of brown white or green,” said Hall, who cre­ates jew­ellery out of sea glass from her Fire and Wa­ter Cre­ations Stu­dio in Bay For­tune. “The other thing we look at very, very closely is the con­di­tion of the piece of glass. That is (whether) it’s to­tally frosted… and that there’s no cracks or sharp edges.”

Hall said judges also look for any unique shapes or writ­ing on the glass, which can also help iden­tify its age.

This year also saw a spe­cial con­test cat­e­gory for “bon­fire glass.”

Hall said bon­fire glass in­cludes pieces that have been burnt ei­ther by be­ing too close to a bon­fire or land­fill burns.

“So the glass has melted and came back to­gether again. Some­times it picks up other things when it does get hard again like sand or other pieces of glass,” Hall told those watch­ing the con­test.

This was the ninth year for the fes­ti­val, which was pre­vi­ously held in Wood Is­lands for four years be­fore mov­ing to Souris.

The fes­ti­val also saw a num­ber of ven­dor demon­stra­tions show­ing at­ten­dees how to drill sea glass and cre­ate pieces of jew­ellery such as mus­sel shell pen­dants.

Roach said the fes­ti­val sees ven­dors from as far away as On­tario, while at­ten­dees come from all across Canada and the U.S.

MITCH MACDONALD/THE GUARDIAN

Anita St. De­nis judges some of the sea glass pieces in the Best Shard Con­test held dur­ing the Mer­maid Tears Sea Glass Fes­ti­val at the Souris Light­house grounds. Apart from the con­test, the fes­ti­val saw a num­ber of craft-mak­ing demon­stra­tions, in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and ven­dors selling jew­ellery and home dé­cor fo­cus­ing on the “jew­els of the sea.”

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