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Searching for Seaglass: Treasures On The Beach

From seaglass to abstract art


Collecting seaglass on sunny afternoons is one of the best ways to explore the coast. The colorful glass fragments are debris that has been tossed in the ocean (unfortunate yet true), but in the hands of Cornish textile designer Johnny Fuller it becomes art.

Having been gradually weathered in salt water for at least 20-30 years (that’s how long it takes to get its smooth, frosted glaze), these tiny shards take on new life. They might have been buried in the sand, or washed away again by the tides – but instead they’re collected to form Fuller’s simple, modern artworks. The art’s circular shapes reflect the sea’s natural cycle. 


At low tide, after a storm, you can see Fuller out on the beach in Falmouth, a port on the South coast of Cornwall, collecting the colorful seaglass that washes ashore. We caught up with him to discuss his art. 


Who inspired the clean lines and simplicity of your work?


I came up with the simple shapes. My work is all about color, form and texture. The circles are intended to represent the circular motion of the tides.


How does living in Falmouth inspire you?


Falmouth is a very creative place to live. The view from my studio looks straight out over the sea and town. The seascape is never the same due to light, weather and the comings and goings of the harbor and docks.

Have you always lived by the sea?


I have always lived by the sea. I did go away to study and then worked in London but the sea was always a draw. I really missed not seeing it.

Grill

How long does it take you to make each piece?


It really depends on which composition I am making and how much glass I have collected from the coastline.

Grill

Can you tell where different glass comes from or what it was originally?


Sometimes there are words or letters on the shards I find. Then I can determine where it is from and perhaps what it once was. I can often tell if it is a base or a neck of a bottle.

Which are the rarest colors to find?


Pinks and reds are sadly pretty rare.

Grill

Do you think there is enough awareness around sea pollution and the dangers of climate change to the seas?


I really don’t. There is so much debris floating around in our oceans damaging marine life, bird life and coastal communities. I often see very upsetting pictures of seals and birds tangled up in plastic, nets and fishing tackle.


How does your work raise awareness of the life of the sea?


I feel I am putting this waste material to a creative use and doing a bit to help clean up our shorelines.

See more of Jonathan’s artwork at www.jonathanfuller.co.uk.

Some tips? The best time to look for seaglass is after a storm or a full moon when the bigger waves are likely to uncover hidden pieces. Walk towards a rising or sinking sun to spot the glass pieces more easily.


There’s more than one way to upcycle from the ocean: get the lowdown on the life of a driftwood artist in our dream job series.