Artists Bringing Their Talents to Sea Glass Festival

The Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor is drawing on Long Islanders’ love of beaches for its second sea glass festival this weekend.

Many on Long Island go to the beach to collect physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along bodies of salt water, called sea glass, to make pieces of artwork. As a result, the Whaling Museum of Cold Spring Harbor saw that interest and decided to set up the festival for the first time last year.

This festival brings the  community of Long Island together to share their love for sea glass with each other.  

“The beach is a place of feeling like home feeling like tranquility,” says Jeanette Leonard, owner of Blue Harbor Jewelry.

The museum includes many activities to make the festival more fun and interactive. Leonard says, “I feel like the Whaling Museum has come alive very recently due to all the new activities.”

Many activities are included in the festival, from shopping to workshops. The museum sets up a tent in the front which hosts the festival. Here, the museum brings many local sea glass vendors to sell their art works. In addition, there are exhibits, including one from the Long Island Antique Bottle Association; members collect bottles, track the history of them, and share their stories with the public.

The museum also brings speakers to the festival to discuss different topics surrounding sea glass, including how to identify sea glass and the history of sea glass. A workshop, Learn How to Wrap a Sea Glass Pendant, and a contest, Sea Glass of the Year Contest, both draw crowds of children and adults.  

The festival brings vendors from all over Long Island, including Hayley Di Rico, owner of Sea Schleps, and Leonard, to sell their art works.  

 Di Rico has been selling at this festival since it started last year. She has always been a collector of sea glass. “When I was younger, I used to go to the beach with my uncle and my cousins and collect sea glass with them.” As Di Rico got older, she got busy with going to college, working as a graphic designer, getting married, and taking care of her children and slowly lost the time to go and collect. However, during the pandemic, Di Rico had to leave her full-time graphic designer job to take care of her kids.  One of the only places, during the worst points of the pandemic, that was safe to take her children was the beach.

Di Rico had a creative itch as she was so used to expressing her creativeness in her job and started collecting sea glass again.  

With an abundance of sea glass piling up in her home, Di Rico decided to use them to make artwork. “It gave me a chance to be creative, not just in a professional way, but in a personal way, which was something I really hadn’t been able to do in the last few years being busy with my kids, marriage, full time job, and other responsibilities.”

Di Rico is a mixed media artist, using materials like paint, rocks, pebbles, seaweed, moss and sea glass to make nature scenes. First selling these pieces to friends and family and slowly expanding to farmers’ markets and other festivals, she soon turned to selling the art as a full-time business. “People have told me that they feel like they’ve actually brought a piece of the ocean and the beach into their home, which is really touching.” 

This Sunday will be Leonard’s first time selling at the Sea Glass festival.

Leonard started as a fashion designer in New York City, designing clothes for women including coats and sweaters. She would go to the bead store because she made a lot of beaded tops and started to make jewelry out of the beads. When Leonard moved out to Long Island, she had to stop fashion to raise her two girls. As a result, she started working at a local dry cleaner for some extra money. One day, one of her friends came in to ask her to make a pendant out of a piece of sea glass that he and his girlfriend found. So, in 2017, Leonard started making jewelry pieces out of sea glass.  

To make her jewelry. Leonard usually lays out all of her sea glass pieces and hand drills them together in sets of twos or threes. Then she wire wraps them together to make a pendant.

She sells her jewelry, as well as freshwater pearl and shell coral, in her Etsy shop, craft fairs, and Reboli Center in the Stonybrook art gallery.  

The Sea Glass festival will be on Sunday from 12pm-5pm at the Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor.  

Sea Schleps: 

Blue Harbor: 

Leave a Reply