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|Find a Handcrafted Glass Float on the Oregon Coast around Lincoln City from October through May|
Where & When to look for the glass floats?
From Mid-October to Memorial Day - hand-crafted glass floats being placed along the 7-1/2 miles (12 km) of public beach in Lincoln City, from the Roads End area to the Cutler City area. You find it, you keep it!
Floats may be found above the high tide line and below the beach embankment.
Floats will not be found in or on the cliffs. Please be aware of beach safety. Never turn your back on the ocean! Sneaker waves and the force of the ocean often move logs and can be unsafe. Floats are not hidden on the beaches during storms.
When you find a float, call the Visitor and Convention Bureau, 1-800-452-2151 or 541-996-1274, and register your float. They will send a Certificate of Authenticity and information about the artists who crafted your float.
Special drawings are held monthly at the Visitor Center for glass floats. Bring a bag of beach trash to the Visitor Center, 540 NE Hwy 101, and fill out an entry form. Handicapped persons with a handicap sticker number are also eligible to enter and win a monthly float drawing.
Families and individuals can now come to the beach and experience the joy of searching for glass floats. It's a perfect opportunity to start a new family tradition!
Glass floats have been a sought after treasure on the Oregon Coast for years.
The earliest evidence of glass floats being used by fishermen comes from Norway in 1844 where small egg-sized floats were used with fishing line and hooks. Around the same time, glass was also used to support fishing nets. By the 1940's, glass had replaced wood or cork throughout much of Europe, Russia, North American, and Japan. Japan started using the glass floats as early as 1910. Today, most of the remaining glass floats originated in Japan because it had a large deep sea fishing industry which made extensive use of the floats; some made by Taiwan, Korea and China.
The earliest floats, including most Japanese glass fishing floats, were hand made by a glassblower. Recycled glass, especially old sake bottles, was typically used and air bubbles in the glass are a result of the rapid recycling process. After being blown, floats were removed from the blowpipe and sealed with a 'button' of melted glass before being placed in a cooling oven. A later manufacturing method used wooden molds to speed up the float-making process. Glass floats were blown into a mold to more easily achieve a uniform size and shape. Seams on the outside of floats are a result of this process. Sometimes knife markings where the wooden molds were carved are also visible on the surface of the glass.
They still make and use glass floats. The Japanese don't make nearly as many as they did in the past, but they are still in use. Large molded floats, made in China are actually more common in recent years.
In Lincoln City they put out the number of floats reflected by the year - so 2001 floats were placed in 2001, 2002 in 2002, etc.....
The project began in 1997, when a local artist first thought of glass floats as an intriguing way to launch the new millennium. Lincoln City sponsored the project, hosting the inaugural season in 1999-2000. Tourists came from around the country to search for their own brilliantly-colored, signed and numbered glass float.
For Lincoln City, the Millennium Float project was a perfect combination of art and the outdoors. Those who came in search of a float often found their way to area galleries, where unnumbered floats were available for sale along with a dizzying array of fine art glass from around the world.
An exhibit of historic glass fishing floats can be viewed at the North Lincoln County Historical Museum.
A bit of Glass Art History
Although there are a number of legends about how glass art and glassblowing came to be, history suggests that the process from glass discovery to glassblowing art took nearly 4000 years.
Although glass has existed in nature for thousands of years, Phoenician merchants first became aware of it in about 5000 BC. The earliest manmade glass objects are thought to date back to 3500 BC.
Attributed to Syrian craftsmen from the Sidon-Babylon area, the art of glassblowing was discovered between 27 BC and AD 14. The long tube used in the blowing process has changed very little since then.
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