Always-art-sea

Q&A with artist Danielle Bergh

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Danielle Bergh is a science teacher who grew up in Center Moriches and now lives in Manorville. In addition to her teaching, she also owns alwaysartsea, a small business that specializes in sea-glass jewelry. The Tide recently caught up with Bergh to talk about her small business. The interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.

The Tide: How long have you been running alwaysartsea?

Bergh: I actually started it in 2019. In 2019, I did my first craft fair at the Center Moriches fair, and then unfortunately, because of the pandemic I wasn’t able to do anything last year as far as craft fairs, and then this year I’ve been doing a few. But last year, actually, during the pandemic, I decided to use that time to actually open a website because I couldn’t do craft fairs.

The Tide: Where did you come up with the idea?

Bergh: It kind of all started when I got into finding beach glass, and I got into that hobby actually from seeing a page on Instagram. So, there was this lady that I just kind of stumbled on that lives in Hawaii and collects and finds beach glass, and she would post some of her findings and I just thought that it was the coolest thing. And we’re also on an island and I was like, Why couldn’t I look for beach glass around here? So, I started collecting beach glass and then I had a friend’s birthday that was coming up and I thought, I think it would be nice if I make a necklace for her. So, the first-ever item that I made was a necklace for my friend. And then I made another necklace for another friend and they came out kind of good, so I thought I could turn this hobby into a little bit of a side business.

The Tide: Did you have any experience making jewelry?

Bergh: I kind of just went for it. I learned along the way. Made mistakes here and there, and learned from it as I went.

The Tide: How much beach glass do you have at any one time? I feel like now on Long Island it can be hard to find.

Bergh: It’s really hard to find the beach glass. I feel like I’ll go and I’ll find beach glass and it’s not necessarily jewelry quality, so I’m not really able to use them. I do have quite a bit of a collection. When I go and I travel, I’ll go and I’ll go look for beach glass. I went to Michael’s and got myself a stacking set of containers and I have it all separated by color. I would say I have a pretty decent collection.

The Tide: Where was the best place you’ve traveled to be able to find it?

Bergh: I went to California in the summer of 2018 with my fiancé and we did a road trip from San Francisco down to San Diego, and I found some really cool and interesting pieces along the way there. But I’ve heard that other places like Puerto Rico have great beach glass, but I’ve just never been there myself. I also feel like the best time to look for sea glass is in the winter because there’s fewer people looking for it. In the summer, there’s a lot of people on the beach, there’s a lot of foot traffic, and I’ll go to the beach and find nothing because there have been other people looking for it [sea glass] already.

The Tide: How did you come up with the name alwaysartsea?

Bergh: I toyed around with a lot of different ideas, and I actually went back and forth with my best friend on some names, and she actually helped me come up with the name. I thought it was fun and would cover what I was making. The name goes right along with the types of things that I make.

The Tide: How important is it for you to find your sea glass naturally?

Bergh: That’s definitely really important. I’m pretty particular about making sure that everything I’m making is with genuine sea glass and it’s not something that was purchased at a store. I just feel that it makes it so much more special that it is authentic and that I found it myself. I feel like I have a memory of each piece. I just feel like each piece is special to me and hopefully, the necklaces themselves are special to the people who buy them.

The Tide: How long does it take you to make pieces? What is the entire process like?

Bergh: The longest part would probably be finding them [the sea glass]. I feel like out of 100 pieces of sea glass, there’s only a handful that are actually jewelry quality. So, I’ll find other pieces that are super, super small, or they have really jagged edges and are not the ideal shape. I drill them myself and that takes a little while, and unfortunately, during the drilling process the pieces will break, and that’s heartbreaking for me because they’re just so hard to find. So, I drill them and usually I add some sort of bead component, and I’ll add a pinch bail, which holds it together, and then I’ll put the chain on it.

Bergh’s jewelry and more can be found at alwaysartsea.com or her Instagram @alwaysartsea. Her prices range from $5 for a trinket dish to $50 for a driftwood chandelier.

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