Friday, May 14, 2010

Glass Floats again

 I was a little bit surprised after I posted the pictures of my glass float quilt to read in comments how many people have never heard of or seen these beautiful objects. In the photo above are the two floats that I have. I put my ring in the photo for size comparison. The larger of the two is one my parents had in our bathroom for years. The smaller one is the one I found on the Oregon coast as a child. It has a little water inside, which has always made it all the more interesting to me.

My friend, Ginny, has a house at the beach and emailed me last week to tell me that there was an article in the Cannon Beach Gazette about people recently finding some floats, which have become very, very rare on the coast. She thought it was so coincidental that I had chosen that theme for one of my Oregon pieces and suddenly they were turning up again. It seems there are places in the Pacific where debris gets trapped in a circular wave pattern where it remains for years and years. Only occasionally a strong storm will disrupt the pattern and set some of the stuff free to float on the tides. Apparently this happened this winter and some of it, including a number of floats is washing up on the Oregon beaches again. I was unable to find the Cannon Beach Gazette article online, but found a similar story from the Beach Connection:

 "They haven't really been seen in decades – at least in any great numbers. But now they've returned for a little while, dotting Oregon beaches to the delight of many.

Glass Japanese floats were a common sight on Oregon's beaches throughout most of the 20th century, and there’s still bunches of them decorating various beach houses along the coast – especially visible in Rockaway Beach.  Prior to World War II, they almost covered Oregon beaches. But by the 70’s or 80’s, they largely disappeared, as Japan stopped making them for their fishermen and the currents had fewer of them to toss up onto these shores.

They can still be found if you know how and when to look, but they are nowhere near common. In recent weeks, they have all of a sudden returned in larger numbers..."
You can read the rest of the story here.

They really are quite magical. And, in case you missed it, here is my quilted piece.


  1. Doo do doo do (as in mysterious music!)

  2. love the glass float quilt. my grandfather lived in bay city, oregon on tillamook bay and he always had glass floats of all sizes sitting on his front porch.

  3. This is the first time I have seen your float quilt. It is incredible. The color and texture showing the uneven thickness in the glass is perfect. The sea foam, rocks and sand are also especially nice. I have always liked your work, and your style(s). What is the size of this quilt? I wish I could zoom in on your sea foam to see how you did it. I'll check your earlier posts since it has been a while since I have "dropped in".

    An admirer from not so far away, Tigard, OR,

    Diane Beckley

  4. Anonymous5:04 PM

    When I lived in Cormwall, UK, as a child - long time ago, these were not so uncommon, but always a thrill to find one on the beach. Love the quilt.

  5. When you first posted about floats, I was inspired to check Etsy to see what other artists might be doing with floats. I discovered this shop with several actual floats. She lives in Kenai Alaska. Maybe they end up on those northern beaches more often and since they are presumably less inhabited, this gal picks them up. Interesting.

    You are so lucky to have found your own!

  6. How timely that you chose to feature the glass float! I just shared this post with my husband and son and they are equally impressed. (I had to explain you were the creator of the Joseph Bird.)

  7. wow! you learn something new everyday. Never heard of these before! beautiful...

  8. I have a couple that I found in an antique store! They're prized possessions!

  9. I've always admired glass floats, but truly didn't know some of the historical insights. thanks for sharing. Oh, how I would have loved to have walked on a beach and found a glass float. We are lucky that we have 3, but we are not the ones that found them originally.

    This insight makes your quilt all the more special. Thanks for sharing.


  10. I did look back at your earlier posts describing your thoughts and techniques in making this piece and was happy to learn how your seafoam came about.
    Great job! I remember someone in our family found an 8-10 inch glass ball on the beach near Twin Rocks at least 50 years ago now, which night be why this appeals to me on many levels. The beach is special to me and your skills and artistry here are much appreciated. Thank you!


  11. Striking how you managed to create a convincing reflection of the object. The half-transparent look is so natural! And so is the lace as water bubbles.

  12. Barbara shared this post with me, because I wrote about beachcombing today...I just finished a book about beachcombing that discussed these floats, among other things. Apparently they even come in very rare colors, like red. In any case, yours are beautiful! (And so is your quilt!)

  13. Anonymous2:05 PM

    I saw your quilt and love it, I have gone to the California beach every summer for about 30 years, never found one, but was always on the look out, took some of mine with me to photo graph on the beach the tide came in really high and swept them in the water, many great photos, I did fing many wonderful things at the beach, my favorite place to be.