Thousands take in sea glass festival at Souris Lighthouse

Published on July 31, 2017

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.”

©THE GUARDIAN/Mitch MacDonald

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 celebrated 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.