The Glass Floats of Grandma Summer


One of my favorite things to do with my daughters on a rainy summer day is hit the library. My 3 1/2 year old has the uncanny ability of blindly picking out 3-4 amazing books based on nothing but the binding. Her whole process takes about 1 minute of hunting and then she quickly returns to the train table to play. One of her recent choices was a delightful picture book called Grandma Summer, a sweet story that taught me about a beachcomber’s collectible I had never even heard of before: Japanese glass fishing floats.

I decided my ignorance on the subject is due to the fact that I’m an east coast gal, but I was instantly intrigued with the idea of these beautiful treasures traveling over years and years from Japan to the coastline of Alaska, Oregon, Washington, California or B.C., Canada. We’ve got sea glass on our beaches, but nothing like this.

Design really is everywhere (it even washes up on the shore!), and I could easily see a collection of glass floats gracing the mantle of a whitewashed summer cottage or taking up residence in a sunny flower garden. But Grandma Summer and my endless googling for more info on glass floats, got me thinking. Many times it’s just the final destination the world sees when it comes to design. But much like a glass float, etched by the sea over time or marked with symbols that offer clues to it’s history, it’s the journey of certain designs that make them so deeply captivating and interesting.

Viewers don’t always know the story behind a design, even a design they truly love or feel drawn to. But I do believe that if that story is interesting it will generate a compelling visual interest that grabs hold of the viewer (or user, consumer, wearer, homeowner…the list goes on depending on your design medium). Just like the drive of the rabid beachcomber who longs to find their next treasure, great design that comes from a unique place of inspiration will hook its audience.

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