The Ups and Downs of Sea Glass Addiction

Hub author's own photo: This character with the white sea glass and wire head is a garden ornament - well it was for taking this photo. It could also be an indoor or patio ornament, but it looks good in the garden, on that "sail boat" palm tree bark.
Hub author's own photo: This character with the white sea glass and wire head is a garden ornament - well it was for taking this photo. It could also be an indoor or patio ornament, but it looks good in the garden, on that "sail boat" palm tree bark. | Source

Beachfront Flea Market Disaster

Well that was fun. Not. Flying ants in our hair if not in our mouths, burning shoulders turning red, heat, headaches, and flea market goods blowing all over the place in the awful wind.

Oh, and cost too: R30 (about $3.50) for the morning, plus R20 (about $2.35) petrol (gas) for the car, plus a week's worth of every spare moment - inbetween trying to find new clients for our freelance business - spent either beachcombing for suitable pieces of sea glass and other interesting beach pebbles, pieces of driftwood, and seashells, as well as making the beach craft and sea glass items. We made one sale: R20. That was our transport costs covered. Whoopee.

So much for our earlier "Sea Glass! This is it! Our next big thing. For sure."

Hub author's own photo: Our homemade beachy flea market sign being invaded by flying ants, or "miggies" as we call them in South Africa. at the East London (in SA) (Stay with me here; no beachfront in London) beachfront flea market.
Hub author's own photo: Our homemade beachy flea market sign being invaded by flying ants, or "miggies" as we call them in South Africa. at the East London (in SA) (Stay with me here; no beachfront in London) beachfront flea market. | Source
Some items we were selling at the flea market.
Some items we were selling at the flea market. | Source

Welcoming the Relief of Hysteria in the Face of Disaster

One's got to laugh, right? If one didn't laugh, one might cry sometimes, or just give up. What a wonderful stress reliever laughter is. I think Tony worries a little when I laugh hysterically - it tells him I'm on the edge of freaking out, but at the same time, I think perhaps he welcomes the hysterical laughter as it tells him I'm going to be okay - when I'm done laughing.

With that said, let's look at the funny side of our flea market outing:

Well, we came out of it alive, so I can't really say whatever could have gone wrong did, but it felt pretty close:

Okay that's an exaggeration, but we weren't even sure if the flea market was going to be happening that Sunday morning, as we suspected that a few of the flea market Sundays over the Christmas and New Year period would have been cancelled due to the East London beaches and beachfront being too full of holidaymakers. Not a bad thing in itself as more people on the beachfront would mean more people to buy your flea market goods, but when there's too many people having a good time, some abuse of drinking can often spoil it for others.

We needed the money pretty badly, and held our breath as we drove up closer to the green. It was on! We thought we were pretty early arriving at 7.40am, but there were already a few other flea market stands going up.

We drove onto the centre of the green looking for a guy with a hat. We'd forgotten his name, but remembered from about 3 years' before that it was a guy with a hat that would be the one to tell you where to park your car and set your flea market stand up. Now anyone can wear a hat, but this hat sort of suits the guy. Not quite a cowboy hat, and not quite a bowling hat. Something inbetween, and sort of rustic. There he was! Same hat. Hopefully a hat that was at least washed or cleaned a bit in the past 3 years.

Just to be sure (he was the right guy, not to smell the hat), we rolled our car window down a little further and amidst the miggies (flying ant things) asked him if he was the guy in charge. "I like to think so," he replied.


me at the flea market
me at the flea market | Source

The Waiting

Hat Guy told us where to park, pointing to a spot about 5 metres away from himself, in the middle of nowhere, telling us that we needed to wait there until he found a space for us. Although there weren't many people there yet, he wasn't sure who was coming, and of course it wouldn't do if we took the usual place of a regular (he didn't say that but we assumed so - and rightly so - we'd also be upset if we were regulars and two strangers arrived before us and took our spot.)

All the same we still felt a little out. Our (well, not really it's my dad's even though I've bought it from him - oops, no time for that story or hysteria now) little car that is supposed to be red, tried to shine it's now dull orange for us since it had received a little wash earlier that morning. It also tried in vain to keep its glaringly obvious grey duct tape "gas tank lid" from flapping in the breeze that was beginning to pick up. At least the thinner tape across the one front headlight seemed to be staying in place, and at least it had gotten us there, after us recently having to spend about R2 000 (about $230) on having all sorts of things on it repaired.

While waiting to be told our place (anywhere but there, we felt, but we were determined to stick things out) a local aquaintance we knew strolled up to us. He had some gorgeous cactus plants he was trying to get rid of, and had brought them along in a good-looking shiny pick up - a man who just a few months before had stopped regularly frequenting our little home office for us to type up a CV for him, or to email a CV for him. He'd been out of work for ages. We were pleased that by chance he'd bumped into an old aquaintance of his, who offered him a good job, company shiny pick up, and more. We also felt a little jealous. Now he was better off than us. Well, everybody at that flea market was better off than us.

Once we were parked at our allocated flea market spot, and started to set up our stuff, I was convinced that the miggies were hovering around only us. Tony pointed out miggies further away from us, near other flea market stands, but I was convinced we had the most miggies. Targetted, that's what we were.

Some of the earrings and necklaces we were selling at the flea market (or trying to sell!)
Some of the earrings and necklaces we were selling at the flea market (or trying to sell!) | Source

At least we weren't the only ones targetted

We had no cover over us or over our goods for sale like the two flea market stands next to us had (other than the open boot of the car providing a tiny bit of relief from the sun as we sat on a beach towel on the grass beneath it - but the sun shifted position in the sky and the car boot didn't, or so say our red shoulders), and we didn't have material items being touched by little hands full of ice-cream, but those two stands gave up, packed up, and left before us. They didn't even make one sale. At least we made R20, even if it was only from the guy with the hat.

While waiting out the allocated (by me) time (much to Tony's impatience, depression and frustration) before also packing up before the official packing up time, we watched in amazement as the wind blew a gazebo over on the other side of us. We thought it was only our homemade sign (with sea glass and shell and pebble earrings hanging beneath it from plastic blue and yellow clothespegs since we didn't have more appropriate wooden clothespegs at home) that would fall over in the wind that day (which it did) but here a gazebo across the way was falling before our eyes, slowly, it seemed, like in a dream. Except it wasn't slow; it was as quick as a strong gust of wind, and sunglasses and t shirts went flying all over, some of the sunglasses being crushed beneath the steel poles of the gazebo. As much as we felt sorry for the four people manning that flea market stand, it was also a lesson in not feeling sorry for ourselves, and to try look on the bright side of things, like at the shiny ocean over the roof of our dull-colored car.

Tony beachcombing.
Tony beachcombing. | Source

Give up on Sea Glass or Beachcombing March Forward?

Well, we gave up on the flea market, leaving a little early, but by that time other folk had started packing up too. It was a bad time of the month or year, the Hat Guy told us, and he encouraged us to come again, saying that people had to get used to seeing us there too, or that more people would visit the flea market at other times of the month or year. He also obviously realised we don't have a lot of money, and recommended we try building our own gazebo and use it the next time. Well, if we'd made some money at the flea market, maybe we could afford the materials we need to build our own gazebo.

But it will all happen. We survived and will continue to survive. Also, we've already started two websites targetting beachy things, beach crafts, beach house decor etc, so we're not giving up yet. And at least people visiting our websites don't notice our car and our missing gazebo. I was going to say "or notice the miggies" but they did actually vanish after a while - almost immediately after a lady told us they only live for a few minutes.

And we're already addicted to beachcombing - and looking for sea glass, in particular.

Eight small pieces of green sea glass.
Eight small pieces of green sea glass. | Source
green sea glass earrings.
green sea glass earrings. | Source

The Highs of Sea Glass Addiction

"Ha ha, you missed that one, I can't believe it - you put your foot right next to it and I so hoped you wouldn't look down and pick it up, and the moment you stepped away I grabbed it. You didn't even see me get it."

"Look at this one, it's got a pattern on it! Come and help me get it loose from underneath this rock."

"We should go home now, but I want to find just one more..."

"I can't wait to get home and show you what I found."

"Me too."

"Right, are we comfortable? Is this little table big enough to spread out all your findings? Who's showing first?"

"... and this last one I'm putting on the table is my favorite. Look how frosty it is and it has no cracks or chips! Perfect for a necklace pendant, or for earrings - if we can find another one similar to it..."

The first sea glass pendant necklace Tony made, using white sea glass, wire, and waxed black jewellery-making cord.
The first sea glass pendant necklace Tony made, using white sea glass, wire, and waxed black jewellery-making cord. | Source

Can we make money out of sea glass?

Only time and hard work will tell. For now, we have our healthy addiction, and if all else fails, there's always hysteria...

Two driftwood friends with wire and sea glass heads chat about the fairies they're seeing in the garden.
Two driftwood friends with wire and sea glass heads chat about the fairies they're seeing in the garden. | Source

Comments 12 comments

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

It should do well, I love it! Wow do I know flea markets and yard sales. I hate them unless I am doing the shopping, lol. I never knew such hard work.

Good luck!


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

Thanks, Jackie - we certainly hope we can make it work somehow - we love beachcombing and making things with what we find on the beach, and we adore sea glass.


diogenes profile image

diogenes 3 years ago from UK and Mexico

A charming, amusing and loveable article. We have them here,too - called Bootsales in the UK. Lots of work for little return but a huge fun factor when the weather is warm and not windy...maybe twice a year. Best in the US (like everything), Flea markets are huge markets there and have everything.

Was just watching Charlie Boorman and his progress around South Africa, looks lovely.

Bob


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

Thanks, diogenes - and for the mentioning of Charley Boorman - had never heard of him, but have now visited his site, watched a video or two from when he was in South Africa recently - and in Africa in 2011 -, and found him on Twitter - interesting chap, and of course I love South Africa, so it's often interesting to see SA through the eyes of a tourist or adventurer. Thanks.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I would think I had died and gone to heaven if I could make money from combing the beach. I haven't been around a beach in years and I was always on the lookout for a rare pearl! I am a dreamer! lol All I have are shells which I adore. Oh, and seashell earrings, I would make those! Tiny ones you can never find, with the tiny shells that is.


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

Jackie, I believe that one CAN make money from what one finds on the beach. There are soooo many things one can make with seashells, pebbles, pieces of sea glass, pieces of driftwood... I joined Pinterest recently - December I think - and there are soooo many pictures there that give me tons of ideas. Tony has made two or three pairs of earrings with little seashells - they look cute - not stud earrings though, but the type that hang, like the green sea glass ones he made in the photo in this hub. I'm not good fiddling with tiny things and working with wire, though, so Tony does all that - although I did make my first string macrame friendship bracelet the other day, and was quite proud of my first effort :)


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Yes those are best really, it would be hard to make studs I am sure but hanging is what I meant with tiny shells. I meant to make my own since it has been so many years since I have seen any earrings like that to buy but I have never gotten around to it. I bought dozens of the pierced wires though at Wal-Mart for nearly nothing. You may could sell online something like that, so light. I do wish you luck whatever you decide and envy you the venture!

I did a macrame bird cage years ago and it was so beautiful but there would be no way to make a profit from all that work. It was fun though. Bracelets though sound interesting.


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

@ Jackie - thanks for the best wishes - a macrame bird cage sounds interesting indeed. Yes, selling online is part of our plan too - we've already started two sites related to these beach crafts and have added shopping carts to them with just a few items so far - takes lots of work, but we'll add to these sites whenever we get a chance to.


JimTxMiller profile image

JimTxMiller 3 years ago from Wichita Falls, Texas

I still maintain that working for yourself beats being a wage slave even as you're going broke! Here in Texas the miggies are bull gnats and/or mosquitoes and the flea markets are not unlike your own experience.

'Twas a good, fun read.


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

Glad you enjoyed it and found it fun, JimTxMiller - thanks for popping in and leaving a comment. Sounds like you've tried a few flea markets too, lol! Working for oneself is all I could ever do now that I started. It's like it's the only way to work; almost no other option - it's addictive working for oneself, even through the tough times.


Derdriu 3 years ago

Teresa, Open-air market buyers can be so completely unpredictable in sometimes giving in to the impulse to buy something great from a new vendor and sometimes vowing not to do so until the new face becomes more familiar.

Your wares look great!

In particular, of all the hilarious comments at the end, I like the first and fourth!

Respectfully, and with many thanks for sharing your adventures and your photos, Derdriu


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa Author

@ Deidriu thanks for the visit. comment and insight about new vendors first needing to become familiar to buyers. We skipped two or three weeks at this flea market, then tried again. Made only one sale again, but a more expensive item this time, and more people stopped to look. Will try again soon, and will also try another flea market venue in our town. Hopefully things will improve since we absolutely love this hobby and hope it can turn into a a viable little source of extra income.

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