Glass in jars at Beach Glass Festival

Beach Glass Festival, Ashtabula

Lake Erie’s treasures regularly wash up along the shore in the form of tiny bits of highly polished glass. This event celebrates what you can make from them.  

When tiny broken pieces of glass from bottles and other sources wash up along the edge of Lake Erie, it doesn’t mean the end of the line for them. In fact, many northern Ohioans scour their local beaches each morning to find these tiny treasures that have been highly polished by their years being churned in the water.

“It’s always going to be a different shape or a different color,” says Melody Shiflet, owner of Handmade Boutiques and organizer of this year’s Ashtabula Beach Glass Festival. “It’s kind of like snowflakes: Every piece you find is going to be unique. There are levels of rarity, so whites, greens, blues and browns are very common, and pinks, yellows, oranges and reds are very rare.”

The Ashtabula Beach Glass Festival, held along Bridge Street near Ashtabula Harbor, is set this year for June 26 and has been around since 2010. It showcases works by artists who take these tiny, polished pieces of glass and turn them into something new and beautiful.

More than 80 vendors have signed up to sell their wares at the 2021 festival. The majority are strictly showcasing handcrafted beach glass or beach-themed items, but Shiflet has expanded this year’s lineup a bit to allow up to five additional vendors, including food vendors, as a way to encourage even people who aren’t necessarily drawn to beach glass to come out and enjoy the atmosphere along the lakefront.

“We have the main part of the street shut down so you can walk the festival area and go from tent to tent and into all of the local businesses,” says Shiflet. “There’s plenty of retail and restaurants and bars on the street as well.”