The Block Island Times

Block Island’s Glass Floats Weekend - Launches Saturday, June 2nd, 2012!

By Block Island Reservations | May 28, 2012
Photo by: Kari Curtis

Block Island, RI — Walking along the beach and you spot something shining in the sunlight. Go ahead and check it out, it might just be a hidden treasure planted for you to find! Among the sand, rocks, seashells and bits of sea glass, you may be one of the lucky few who discover a glass float designed by Eben Horton, a renowned glass artist located in Wakefield, RI, which is among 200 floats designed and created by Horton and with volunteers, hidden along one of Block Island’s stretch of beach line and a conservancy greenway trail. The idea for this project came from Horton’s friend who participated in Lincoln City’s Glass Float Promotion in Oregon, which began in 1997 when a local artist thought of a unique way to “launch the new millennium”. This project, sponsored by Lincoln City, attracts tourism from all over the country and even outside the United States because of its connection to history and the art community, as well as being unique objects used in coastline areas around the world. 

“In days gone by, visitors searching Oregon’s beaches often found treasures from the east: blown glass floats, in intriguing shades of green and blue. Used by Japanese fishing crews to float their nets, these spheres were as small as two inches (5cm) or as large as two feet (.6m). They were hoarded, polished and adored, the ultimate find for a dedicated beachcomber.

Now that fishing vessels around the world use buoyant plastic, a blown glass float is a rare find - except on the beaches of Lincoln City, where than 2,000 of them are found each winter. Annually we put out the number of floats reflected by the year - so 2001 floats were placed in 2001, 2002 in 2002, etc…” Oregon Coast’s Finders Keepers website

Launching in 1999-2000, the floats which were signed and numbered ranging in color and size were placed along 7 -1/2 miles (12 km) of public beach in Lincoln City, waiting to be found by their new owners. Lincoln City continues the promotion annually, running from Mid-October to Memorial Day, to which the website exclaims, “You find it, you keep it!”

Taking a page from Lincoln City’s book, by participating in our own version of a Glass Float project, Block Island will be incorporating a historical part of the fishing community and bringing it back to the public, creating a new twist on hide and seek; Block Island style! The majority of the 200 floats will be clear and others colored, these glass floats hand blown by Horton will be dated, numbered, and Block Island stamped. Out of the 200 clear glass floats, 12 of the floats will be colored to represent the year 2012, and of those 12 colored floats, 1 will be a super special gold leaf float.  In an effort to make the event fun for as many people as possible, The Tourism Council is asking that only one float per person be kept. That way more people can participate and join in on the fun!

When and where is this exciting new project taking place, you may be asking? Horton and his volunteers will be kicking off the project Saturday June 2nd, 2012, during the Taste of Block Island weekend. You can find Horton discussing the project and giving out maps with locations at the Artists Tent on Saturday in the center of town. If you don’t get a chance to find a float, there are opportunities to buy one from Horton during the launch weekend.

The Tourism Council will also have a page dedicated on their website to tracking and logging the glass floats, which let the public know how many are still available to be found. Depending on how many treasure seekers participate, this project could last for weeks or months, drawing continued interest and excitement to Block Island throughout the summer season and possibly through the fall. This project offers the public a chance to seek and find a piece of Block Island to take home with them, a unique collectible that you can’t find anywhere else!

You can find more information about Eben Horton on his website,, and if you’re interested in learning more about Lincoln City’s Glass Float Promotion in Oregon, you can check out their website, You can also check out the Block Island Tourism Council’s website during the launch weekend to find out more about tracking and logging glass floats,

You can find the original blog article written by Sallie Mazzur on our website,  !

Thank you Kari Curtis for supplying us with your beautiful photo!

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