Collector: Maren Lohmeyer

sea glass storage room

By Maren Lohmeyer, translated

My family has been living for generations on a small island in the middle of the North Sea, which is called Helgoland (an archipelago in Germany)—a unique place consisting of red rock, white sands, and green land. We have a mild climate because of the Gulf Stream, but the weather is very changeable ranging from lovely sunny days to gale force storms, a sea of fog or a wide horizon over a calm, sparkling sea. The island has an area of about one square kilometer, a peaceful place for sea and immigration birds, gray seals, lovely white sand beaches, and small-village life.

heligoland island

The island had been evacuated in 1945 and I was born 1957 on the mainland, in Bremen. Our hotel on Helgoland was rebuilt and we moved back to Helgoland in 1960. I grew up with my two sisters as an island child. During the sixties the island was built up again after it was completely destroyed during WWII. I had a childhood spent between building sites, wooden pathways, and new beginnings. My parents started to rent the rooms to visitors. We children were put into leather trousers and "wellies" and mostly played outside. 

sea glass marbles germany

Sometimes we played with marbles on the beach (which we still find today). We also collected fossils and sold them on the streets to tourists. At an early age we had to learn to swim and were often sunburned.

sea glass display case germany

After the war, the rubble from the destroyed houses was discarded in the sea, including glass, porcelain, and all other household goods. We find all these things on the beaches, now rounded and smoothed due to their exposure to the sea. Many of them are about 100 years old—pieces of porcelain dolls, fragments of porcelain crockery, and stoneware with old patterns, and sometimes even with dates. Before the war, Helgoland was a seaside resort; therefore, you can find fragments of crockery with names from the hotels that once stood here.

german sea glass stoppers

Helgoland has a little sister island called the “Düne” (“dune”) which is just a seven minute trip with the boat, where you can find more fossils, red flint, amber, and chalk stones. Helgoland itself has turned into a destination for collectors from all over the world.

helgoland german sea glass collector

The northeast beach on Helgoland is called "glass beach" as that is where the most glass fragments are found. I have been inspired to make jewelry from the lovely pieces in which I drill holes to make bracelets and necklaces, due to the availability of sea glass in so many different colors. In my house I have a showroom with a small exhibition, practically a museum. The many visitors are interested to see what you can find on the beaches of the island.

You can visit me on my Facebook page "strandfunde helgoland" where I showcase my latest findings.

This article appeared in the Glassing Magazine May/June 2018 issue.

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