Finding beach glass just takes a bit of patience — and the advice of an experienced collector. 

Glitter Litter, Mermaid Tears, Sea Candy, Pirate Glass — call it what you will, but Shea Alltmont is the goddess of Lake Erie Beach Glass. For nine years, she’s combed Lake Erie’s Ohio shores for treasure.

Alltmont uncovers mermaid loot (or beach glass) in every color of the rainbow. Her land job is at Avon Lake Library just a block from the beach where she leads library programs in beach glass hunting. As a book lover and treasure hunter, she knows how to weave a fascinating tale.

She tells it like it is — literally trash being a treasure. It’s what these castoffs reveal that keeps her riveted just like a good book. Each local beach has different beach glass finds. Using the beach glasses’ color and location, she can identify the rarity, history of the people and more. Intrigued? Pick up a shovel and start digging. Here are 7 tips from Alltmont to get started.

1. After Stormy Weather, Uncover the rainbow

Stormy weather stirs up debris and beach glass. Just after the storm is the perfect time to go beachcombing. Fun fact: Orange glass is the most rare. White, seafoam, green and brown are the most common.

2. Go Off-Season

Summer is the most popular time to look for beach glass. If you go in fall or even into winter — provided it's not frozen — you have less competition.

3. Location, Location, Location

Not all beaches are good for beach glassing. Her Lake Erie favorites: Conneaut Beach for blue slag glass (from the old GE plant), Huntington Beach, Edgewater Beach, Perkins Beach (west of Cleveland), and Veterans Park in Avon Lake. To the west, Lake Erie’s Magee Marsh and Old Woman's Creek in Huron are good bets. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has an excellent online resource guide for public beach access points in Ohio.

 4. Tools

Money is not an issue for this affordable hobby. You can use your hands, a flat rock or invest in kids’ gardening tools for digging. Of course, a bag to collect your loot is a necessity. Sunglasses and water shoes are also valuable.

5. Night Glass Hunting

Find glass in the dark? Chemicals used during the glass-making process can make the glass “glow in the dark.” These treasures can be found with an ultraviolet flashlight. Night glass hunting reveals treasure not readily seen in the day.

6. Look Down

This might seem obvious, she says, but it’s important. Say you walk the beach one way and find nothing — the return walk will have a different light angle — and voila, treasure! Always look down for “the line of debris,” that’s where you’ll see the large pebbles or driftwood. Under the debris is often beach glass, just before you reach the fine sand. One day a beach might have oodles of treasure, another day nothing. Beach glassing is a combination of luck and patience.

7. Do your Research

Reach out to the locals about good beach glassing areas. Go online and check out social media like Lake Erie Love, Lake Erie Beach glass and Shea Alltmont’s Beaches Kick Glass where she posts her free library beach glass workshops. Of course, check out your local library.

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