BELOW AND OPPOSITE PAGE, part of the fun in collecting sea glass is contemplating its history. These gems from McGrath’s collection, left, and Werts’ collection, right, originated as stoppers for apothecary bottles, the bases and necks of bottles, and a few glass objects whose function or shape can only be imagined now.
glass found just a few days later by her husband. A love story delivered by the tide.
McGrath’s powerful collection helped arouse the beach comber in Werts. The women first met when their children attended school together in the 1990s, and McGrath later started a marketing busi- ness with Werts’ husband. Five or six years ago, when they were more acquaintances than friends, Werts was given a glimpse of McGrath’s collection. Her casual tendency to pick up the occasional piece of sea glass while running on the beach quickly spiraled into what she laughingly refers to as a healthy neurosis.
“It’s a total win-win. There’s not a negative thing about it,” Werts says. By collecting something that started as someone’s trash and was slowly trans- formed into her treasure, she considers the act a beach clean up of the best kind.
McGrath concurs. “It’s the perfect combination of man and nature. It’s a man made object; then it
becomes a jewel through nature.” Through the years, Werts and McGrath have roamed the beaches together, alone, and with other friends and family members. They walk quickly through the sandy patches, and slow down to scour each rocky patch that the waves have exposed. Sharing a glass hunt along the shore with people they love heightens the experience. “It’s therapeutic and bonding and meditative,” Werts says. “People who really get the same rhythm are really fun to be with. It’s like a dance.”
The love of the hunt has found both women an- kle deep in sand and salt water on foreign shores. McGrath recently tolerated the puzzled looks of local Slovenians as she collected glass along the Adriatic Sea, and Werts has discovered that Costa Rica can offer many fine shells but much less sea glass than the California coast. And though both women have added beach combing to travel itiner- aries, Werts now schedules long weekend drives up
IT’S THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF MAN AND NATURE. IT’S A MAN
the coast for the purpose of pillaging “secret spots” in Northern California.
At home, however, Rincon Beach is the hot spot. The jutting point, the wave action and a million other factors result in greater opportunities to find sea glass. “I think a lot depends on storms that get things stirred up and kicked up,” says Werts, who intensifies her search efforts during winter when the higher tides and greater storm surge drag more sand away and push more treasures onto shore. And if the search is a success, what will these seasoned sea glass hunters bring home? “When I first started collecting it was so exciting to find anything, I would collect it all—anything that was smooth,” says McGrath. “I’ve had to be- come more selective because there’s only so much room for it in the house.”
Now McGrath and Werts both bring home only the finest jewels after a scavenging session. They toss back most of the pieces that are chipped or
have sharp edges that need more days, months or years of tumbling in the waves and across the sand. “Usually when you walk Rincon, even if it’s a good day, you get three or four good pieces,” says Werts. And color is key. The green, brown and clear glass is the most commonplace, usually originat- ing from jars or beer and wine bottles; sea glass in these colors must be a unique shape or size for McGrath and Werts to include in their collections. Werts loves the turquoise and fills containers throughout her house with this rarer color, remi- niscent of tropical waters. Indigo blues, yellows and reds are jump-up-and-down exciting for collec- tors. Lavender, gray and pink shades are very rare and usually evolve from clear glass that acquired a color hue after prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
In addition to rare colors, there are other special finds. Marbles worn by the surf are hard-earned treasures. Chunks of pottery and China with
MADE OBJECT; THEN IT BECOMES A JEWEL THROUGH NATURE.
Q&A Flannery with Susan
Interview by AMY OROZCO Photos by FRAN COLLIN
GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD WINNING ACTRESS AND SOAP STAR SUSAN FLANNERY LOVES LIVING IN CARPINTERIA.
From the catbird seat of her Shepard Mesa home, Flannery keeps an eye on her hometown and has an opinion on all that she sees. A gracious, funny, smart and articulate woman – the actress keeps it real in Carpinteria.
You’re from New Jersey. How did you find your way to Hollywood?
Oh, [laughs] let me stop and think. That was a long time ago. I always wanted to be an actress. I was one of those people who always knew what he or she wanted to do in life. I went to college at Stephens College in Missouri and majored in theatre. As soon as I got out of college I came to Los Angeles. I was very lucky, within a year I started working – steadily. I’ve never not worked. There was a period time I stopped acting for five years and I was producing. Then, I got an offer to do the show I do now [“The Bold and the Beautiful”].
OPPPOSITE PAGE, the bones of the original stables and barn (note the roof) are evident in Flannery’s Shepard Mesa home. The architectural integrity plays a major role in the home’s charm.
ABOVE, not only is Carpinteria resident Susan Flannery an award-winning actress and recognized around the globe, she is active in and committed to her community.
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