“Look what I found on my morning walk today,” said a Facebook post from a good friend, and there was a beautiful photo of a blown glass float.
By Laura Swanson
And then a link – www.floathunt.com. A few quick clicks and I’m reading all about Roger and Trevor Crosta’s latest way to share their beautiful artistic glass floats with the general public and introduce their innovative Afterglow Memorials. The Crostas are a father and son glassblowing team working here in Nehalem. “We love it here and feel lucky to be able to do what we do in this amazing place,” said Roger. “To show our appreciation and showcase our work, we started our Float Hunt Project as a way to share our amazing blown glass creations with the world. We hide floats at random on Oregon’s Beaches throughout the year, so if you’re lucky enough to find one, please post a picture and share your story with us!”
Explains Roger, “I started throwing out floats randomly two years ago when we started Afterglow Memorials.” He continued, “I threw them out for fun at first, but this year I realized it was a great way to promote our business, which is creating blown glass memorials with cremation ash in the form of a beautiful glass float.”
The first “official” Float Hunt occurred this Labor day in and around Manzanita Beach. Over 30 floats were released into the ocean, hidden in the dunes from the north end of the beach all the way down into the south end of Nehalem State Park. Some were hidden on the trail and in the Bay at the park; some were tossed into the river. “One of the best ‘hiding spots’ was putting one in a great sand castle someone built on the beach,” enthused Roger. The artists just light up when they talk about sharing these works of art with the public, just like the faces of the lucky “finders”. “We’ve had a great response from the people who have found them, and we’ll posting up pictures and text on our Facebook page,” (link at www.facebook.com/floathunt) said Roger. “I think most of them were found, and we’ve had a number of responses so far.”
The Crostas will be releasing floats regularly from now on, at random sites on the beach, in the ocean, and in the dunes. A post on their Facebook page will alert searchers about a release. “We’ll do another big release during the holidays, maybe New Years,” hinted Roger. “We are sending them out to friends all over the country and even internationally for people to release for us, and we want to get them out as far as possible to see who finds them and tells us where and when,” he added “We’re also going to start geocaching, probably on Neahkahnie Mountain.”
Crosta has been blowing glass for 20 years using a process called “Scavo”, which means excavation in Italian, for all his glass from the beginning. Over the years Crosta’s Scavo Glass specialized in architectural lighting creating chandeliers and pendant lights, and also made ikebana vessels which sold online and in galleries. The Scavo process involves fusing ash into molten glass and gives it a rough, textured surface. Afterglow Memorials was started in the summer of 2013. “We created a way to fuse the cremation ash of loved ones and pets into our blown glass several years ago, and we chose the form of a glass fishing float to symbolize the journey of their spirit across the sea,” explained Roger. “People don’t throw them into the ocean, obviously, they display them in their homes as a celebration of life.” Trevor, Roger’s son joined him two years ago and the memorials have become so popular that they have put all other projects on hold, and focus on only making them. Trevor also does flame-worked glass and creates cremation ash jewelry. Their website, AfterglowMemorials.com is simple to use and explains the process and online purchases. A cremation ash collection kit is sent out and the memorial is made with a tiny amount of the ash. The process takes 4-6 weeks, and the finished memorials come with a display ring and look beautiful on a mantel or shelf. (There is detailed information on the website.)
“The floats and memorials are also unique in that every piece we make creates some kind of emotional response in the person who receives it, whether they had us make a cremation ash memorial, or they found a studio float that we released on the beach,” said Crosta. “That’s different than any other type of art I’ve done, and it’s special because it’s a beautiful three-dimensional art glass object created using a historic process. That I do Scavo as well makes it even more interesting and one of a kind. It’s a pretty cool way to do art!”
Here is an entry from Roger Crosta’s journal:
6:44 pm. I finished up the Labor Day 2015 Float Hunt today, and it was the most fun ever! It changed the way I’m going to do my art from now on, and I realized that giving it away like this is the best way to proceed. At first I was concerned about who might find it, but now I realize that the whole point is to share it with people who otherwise might not ever see it, no matter who they are or how they receive it. If they love it, value it, and post up on our Facebook page that’s great. If they leave it there, that’s how they experience it. If they take it home and leave it in a box, that’s fine. if they destroy it or throw it away, then that is how they related to it.
It’s all great, and it doesn’t matter at all now to me how it’s received. Putting my art out there so anyone can find it and react to it however they want is what’s important to me now.
“It’s an art form that allows me to express color and technique, and I’m so happy I developed it and finally turned it into something I can share–it’s a great way of communicating with people I would never otherwise meet!” said Roger.
The float form is also totally amazing, because it’s sturdy, functional, it can travel across the ocean, be displayed indoors or outside, and it will endure for centuries, unchanged wherever it winds up. A Very Brief History of Glass Fishing Floats…
Glass fishing floats were produced in Norway as far back as 1840 because they were an inexpensive way for fishermen to add buoyancy to their nets . Soon many countries in Europe were using them, and the many manufacturing companies began identifying their floats with a stamp on the button seal on the bottoms of the floats. The countries in the far east, particularly in Japan, who made most of the floats that still wash up on the beaches here, didn’t begin manufacturing them until the early 1900’s. They used recycled sake bottles for their raw material, so the majority of the floats that you find on the beach these days are various shades of light bluish green.
There were other colors used by various manufacturers throughout the years, however, including clear glass, amethyst, violet, dark brown, beer bottle amber, and a variety of blue, pale ruby, and cranberry glass. The pale ruby and cranberry floats are the most valuable, because the only way to produce those colors in glass is to use gold.
Glass floats had to be tied into the nets, so they broke free fairly easily and had to be replaced frequently. That’s why there are still many of those old floats circling the pacific ocean in the Japanese Current and washing up on our beaches after fierce storms. Eventually cork, metal, and plastic floats began to replace the glass floats because they were easier to attach securely and cheaper to manufacture. But finding one of them on the beach is nothing compared to the thrill of seeing a beautiful glass float that’s washed up on the sand, sparkling in the sun on the morning after a powerful coastal storm!
So, now begin your own “float hunt” with help from Afterglow Memorials. “We make and release our beautiful glass floats on the beach for free as a creative way to let people know about our unique services–making blown glass cremation ash memorials for people who have lost loved ones or pets,” said Crosta. “We fund the project ourselves, make the floats that we give away all by hand, and host events like the Labor Day Float Hunt at our own expense. We also donate our beautiful studio floats to various charities and events we like. We’d greatly appreciate your spreading the word about our products and services so that we may continue the work and make our Float Hunt project even bigger!” he concluded. For more information, go to www.floathunt.com or see their Facebeook page at facebook/floathunt or go to www.AfterglowMemorials.com.There truly is treasure on Manzanita Beach and throughout the North Tillamook County – artists such as the Crostas creating Scavo blown glass floats and randomly sharing it with everyone.