Bermuda Beach glass washes up in Erie jewelry –

The Bermuda Triangle sent many a sailor to his deepwater death, but in June it put Fairview jewelry designer Becky Fox in beach glass heaven.

Bounded by Miami, Puerto Rico and Bermuda, this expanse of ocean is home to hundreds of shipwrecks and dozens of aircraft that mysteriously disappeared. Who knows what churns inside the 500,000 square miles of stormy seas?

Some of the treasure washes up in deserted reefs and secluded coves on the island of Bermuda, a British territory better known for its pink-sand beaches.

A tip from a fellow collector who lives there led Fox to Bermuda, where she found beaches laden with colossal pieces of aqua and sea foam green glass, some from bottles dating back 100 years. Delicate lavenders and purples, whites and browns danced beneath the turquoise water, begging for hands to plunge beneath the waves. At low tide, the lush glass carpet stretched the entire length of the beach, a foot deep in places.

“It was a heady experience,” said Fox, who made the business trip at the urging of her husband, Brad Fox, M.D., a physician with Saint Vincent Hospital’s Liberty Family Practice, who went along. “Not only is it plentiful, it is pristine,” Becky Fox said. “It is the caviar of sea glass.”

Becky’s Beach Glass Designs, launched six years ago with glass collected along the shore of Lake Erie, has earned a reputation for quality, inventive designs and affordability, thanks to social media and Becky Fox’s online store. With more than 4,600 Facebook fans, her necklaces, cuff bracelets and watches often sell as soon as photos are posted, and she has been known to sell pieces right off her neck.

At first, Becky Fox, a stay-at-home mom, made beach glass jewelry for herself and a few friends for the fun of it, but she quickly turned her art into a business when people began oohing and aahing over her designs. Her work is distinguished by her statement-making designs and the handmade chains she fashions from spools of silver wire. She makes each ring on the chains by hand and then arranges them in ancient, interlocked patterns, including the Helm weave, based on a Finnish design, and the Byzantine-style chain, also known as bird cage.

“You fall down a rabbit hole,” said Fox, who spends 60 hours each week immersed in jewelry making. “It starts with a twig that you trip over, and then you fall in.”

Not formally trained as an artist, Becky Fox learned through tutorials, experimentation and networking with other designers online. Facebook groups devoted to sea glass collecting and jewelry making have tens of thousands of members who freely share ideas. That was how the fellow collector first learned of Becky’s Beach Glass Designs. She messaged Becky Fox, offering to trade some of her Bermuda glass for jewelry.

Becky Fox was happy to oblige, and soon after the glass arrived from Bermuda, she sent back $350 in pendants, necklaces and bracelets to the Bermuda collector.

When Brad Fox saw her eyes light up at the quality of the Bermuda glass, he suggested they go straight to the source. Not one to turn down an adventure, (Becky Fox bought a Harley when she turned 40; Brad Fox followed suit with his own motorcycle, a Victory; and the pair travel the back roads every chance they get), by January the Foxes were booking flights to Bermuda. Friends would meet them at the airport and lead them to secret hideaways where they could find enough glass to supply the growing jewelry business.

Until now, much of the glass that goes into Becky’s Beach Glass Jewelry Designs has come from the shores of Lake Erie or from collectors in Virginia, Greece and Puerto Rico.

Never in her wildest dreams did she expect what she found in Bermuda.

The Foxes spent three days in a deserted cove they discovered on their own after friends had to leave on family business.

Large piles of what appeared to be trash and dull, barnacled rocks turned out to be their best bounty yet.

After a thorough soaking, bleaching and rinsing back in their hotel room, the haul was revealed. “It was like night and day. You didn’t know what you had until you washed it all off.”

Century-old glass bottles that once held soda, poison, medicine and rum had become lodged in the cove near what was probably a former dump site, gentle waves wearing down the sharp edges over time.

The thickest aqua and sea foam pieces are remnants of vintage Bermuda Codd bottles, which used glass marbles as stoppers. Highly collectible when intact, the bottles feature raised lettering listing the year and location where they were manufactured. A Patterson Soda bottle made in 1914 in Somerset, Bermuda, is one of many examples Fox tucked inside her knapsack. Shards of old sea pottery in pretty patterns of cornflower blue, frosted marbles and apothecary jar stoppers added to the haul.

They didn’t know it until later, but dozens of pieces of collectible Vaseline glass, also known as uranium glass, ended up in their collection, a discovery made when Becky Fox turned on a new black light flashlight her husband ordered online. The glass glows deep green under ultraviolet light. Vaseline glass, colored using uranium dioxide, primarily from 1840 until World War I, was in its heyday from the 1880s to the 1920s.

When their weeklong adventure came to an end, the Foxes loaded 70 pounds of flawless sea glass into two extra suitcases — 3,000 pieces in all — gladly paying the airline an additional $80 to bring them home.

Within hours, the glass was neatly arranged by size and color in Becky Fox’s studio workspace, just off the kitchen. There was no time to waste. Social media fans were already craving custom jewelry, and she was eager to make a keepsake for herself.

Ten days after she cleared customs, Becky Fox was on her way to Roar on the Shore full throttle, her one-of-a-kind Bermuda glass pendant dangling from her neck on a handmade Byzantine-style chain. She used her dremel tool to sculpt the Harley Davidson bar and shield into one of her favorite finds. LEL