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Secrets On The Sand

by Grant McOmie

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on April 10, 2009 at 1:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:35 PM


There are days along the Oregon coast when it seems everyone loves to stroll along the sand with eyes scanning the area immediately to the left, and then the right and then in front of them - back and forth they go - beachcombers!

And they're having a blast!

And why not?

When you have a chance to find a shiny shell, an unusual rock or a unique piece of distorted driftwood, who doesn't relish the idea of seeking treasures from the tides?

But as Grant McOmie has recently discovered, there's a unique beachcombing adventure that offers the central Oregon coastal visitor a stunning payoff - unique glass art!


As springtime surf floods and ebbs, beachcombers wander, seeking treasures from the tides - something to help them remember the moment.

In the Lincoln City area, folks may cross paths with local resident Wayne Johnson - a self-proclaimed "float wizard" who makes certain that beachcombers have something special to find.

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"The fact is it's kind of undercover work that I do. First, it's hidden and I try not to be seen by anyone. And then I hide something colorful and prized too. I like that part of it a lot."

Like a secret agent, Johnson stealthily moves among sea-strewn logs and lush beach grass to hide beautiful, colorful glass floats.

Johnson said that he and a dozen other float wizards hide up to 70 glass floats along eight miles of Lincoln City beaches beginning each October and continuing through May.

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"We want them to be visible and yet hidden enough so that it will difficult for anyone to see them at first glance - we want it to be challenge to find them," noted Johnson.

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Nearby, at the Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio in Lincoln City, you can see the challenge that it takes to create a glass float - in fact, you can even learn how to do it yourself - with the help of local artists like Kelly Howard.

Kelly noted, "People always say, 'anyone can watch the glass blower but we never get to try it.' Well, here is the chance to do just that. Try it, you may get hooked on it."

Glass blowing is one of those activities that may just leave a huge smile on your face just like it did for Kevin McOmie.

He joined me on our recent coastal adventure and he was anxious to try his hands at glass blowing.

Kevin, an accomplished art student who specializes in painting and drawing, had never tried anything like glass art before.

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But with Kelly's patient demeanor and easy to follow instructions, he soon got the knack of it and was deeply into the art of glass within fifteen minutes.

First, Kelly pulled a glob of molten glass from the 2100-degree furnace.

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The material glowed yellow and red hot from the heat. She showed Kevin how to roll it and then apply color with other small pieces of glass.

"Ok - Kevin, just blow and we'll expand the glass into a float - look! That's amazing isn't it, you're doing great."

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Howard coached as Kevin blew into a long rubber hose that was attached to the end of a 5-foot long hollow steel rod. The glass globe at the other end of the rod magically grew into a fiery globe.

Kevin noted, "It really is fun! But you have to keep an eye on it - it's using a lot of different skills all at once. In the end, I think I've created something really awesome that I'm going to remember for a long time."

The Jennifer Sears Studio is one of several glass art houses in the central Oregon coast area that's participating in the glass float project.

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Each float is like a moment of fiery magic that's captured in a heartbeat and leaves you spellbound.

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Howard added, "To see something get made and then realize that you had a hand in creating it; especially something made out of glass - well, it really is mesmerizing and different."

Back on the beach, Wayne Johnson insisted that the adventure of creating your own glass float or finding one that the float wizards hide on the sand is a difference that anyone can enjoy.

"When you see it lying on the beach, it's kind of like finding beach treasure...something special on the Oregon coast."

The glass float project continues along Lincoln City beaches through the Memorial Day Holiday weekend.