Beachcomber Interview: Mandy Peel

english striped sea glass

Mandy Peel is a beachcomber and artist with a passion for Hartley Wood and Company vases. She was born and raised in the coastal town of Seaham in Northern England, and she’s lived there her whole life. 

Mandy’s childhood in the 1960s was largely spent on the local beach, spending joyous hours searching for beautiful glass, even having competitions to find a piece of red glass. However, she wasn’t a collector, yet. 

Of her childhood glass searches, Mandy remarks “I cringe now to think just how much we threw back into the sea. We may have taken the odd piece home but it was considered junk or trash so it was pretty much left on the beach.”

One day, Mandy saw a beautiful assortment of colorful sea glass layered inside a small vase, arranged by her sister. On its perch beside the window, the glass caught the sunlight and looked like a rainbow suspended in a glass. Every time she visited, Mandy would compliment her sister’s vase until her sister finally told her, “Well, go and get some, then,” and Mandy set off on her sea glass journey. 

hartley wood vase and sea glass from seaham england

When she first started searching for glass, Mandy was shocked by how many people were at Seaham collecting glass, too. “I was genuinely puzzled as to what they were doing,” she says. After an online search, she learned that the coal mining village of Seaham was one of the most popular locations for sea glass collecting in the world. People come from everywhere around the world to find the multicolor nuggets on Seaham’s beaches, collecting them, displaying them, and making them into jewelry sold around the world. 

Although she likes hunting with sea glass friends from around the world, Mandy decided she wanted to start a collection of sea glass from Seaham that would stay in her hometown. Over the years, she has grown her collection of sea glass. “I have managed to gather a wonderful collection,” says Mandy, “and I have great pleasure sharing my home and finds with fellow enthusiasts.” 

mandy peel english sea glass collector

Mandy also has a beautiful collection of Hartley Wood glass vases. She enjoys trying to match the patterns on the glass with the multicolored sea glass she finds. 

“There is no denying the similarity between the colors in some of the sea glass when compared to the vases,” Mandy says. “Whatever the origin, we have some truly special sea glass at little old Seaham.”

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine September/October 2019 issue.

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