I’m fortunate to live on Waiheke Island, so walks on the beach are a regular part of my daily routine. Amongst the pebbles and shells I often find pieces of seaglass, weathered and worn by the ocean over time into smooth organic shapes. Many of these pieces of glass are just crying out to be made wearable, and I’ve been combining them with silver and precious and semi-precious stones. I love taking something that was waste, and giving it a new lease on life as something beautiful and desirable.

Finding seaglass also makes us aware of our relationship to resources. One of my most fascinating finds recently was a bottle fragment with the letters AB on it. Further research at Te Papa’s website revealed this to be from a bottle belonging to the Associated Bottlers Co Ltd (formerly the Auckland Bottle Co Ltd). Bottles created during the late 19th and early 20th century in New Zealand were a valuable resource, and as such, the ownership of the bottles was retained by the bottling company. Bottles were imprinted with the words “THIS BOTTLE IS THE PROPERTY OF THE ASSOCIATED BOTTLERS CO LTD NZ”, and regular newspaper advertisements reminded people that bottles had to be returned to the company. Those found to be hoarding the bottles were also publicly shamed by newspaper advertising. I’ve since found several more of these pieces, including part of the proprietary statement.

This is in such contrast to today’s throwaway culture. I hope that pondering seaglass and our relationship to resources might make us less inclined to be wasteful.