The Block Island Times

Glass float project will return, with a Kickstart

By Gloria S. Redlich | Dec 12, 2012
Source: Downloaded from the Glass Float Project's Kickstarter website A happy float finder.

At the December 4 meeting of the Block Island Tourism Council, Executive Director Jessica Willi gave an update Glass Float Project that the group helped fund last summer, and which looks set to return next year. The brain-child of glass artist Eben Horton of Wakefield, it involved more than 200 glass floats being hidden around the island. They were all numbered, dated and stamped with an image of Block Island. All were of clear glass, except for 12 that were made of colored glass and one that was made of gold leaf.

Begun in early June, the hunt readily caught on, with many people finding the floats, which were hidden along beaches and greenway trails. Willi said, “It was a huge hit.” With another 50 hidden toward the end of summer, Council President Zena Clark said there were still a number of floats that hadn’t been found.

Though calling the discoveries “finders’ keepers,” people are asked to keep only one. To date, approximately 109 floats have been found and registered on the Block Island Tourism site. Clark said it’s possible some people are keeping the floats without registering them, so more may have been found.

In looking ahead to next year, Clark said Horton was applying for a grant and was also trying to raise money through Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform. He is trying to raise $6,000 for the island project and to that end is hoping people will contribute in order to continue an event islanders and visitors alike found to be very exciting. For a $500 donation, Horton will offer glassblowing classes to the donor and four friends.

Those interested in contributing at any level may contact Horton at 401-788-2500 or go to the Glass Float Project on

Hotel numbers up

Willi reported on hotel tax income as it reflected commercial activity on island in September. Noting it was “either busier this past summer or rates were higher,” Executive Director Jessica Willi said August had been good, and September’s taxes were up $20,000 over last year, rising from $170,000 to $190,000.

With “a very busy September,” Willi explained the island’s results were consistent with Providence and Newport, for which September also proved to be the busiest month. “All in all, it’s positive news,” Willi said.


In reviewing this year’s holiday tree-lighting held on Wednesday evening, November 28 at the Harbor Baptist Church, Vice President John Cullen said, “Though the weather was cold it was clear and [the event] was very well attended.” Commending those serving cookies, candy canes and other refreshments, Brad Marthens characterized the occasion as well-organized.

Cullen said with “kids and the choir singing, it was great to have borrowed a PA system, which added greatly.” He expressed pleasure at having been stopped several times since the event by people who had enjoyed themselves and wanted to thank the council.

Willi reported on a November meeting — the most recent in a monthly series — she attended with others tourism representatives and Governor Lincoln Chaffee. Held in South County, last month’s speaker was the state planner who discussed the state’s 10-year plan, and spoke about Warwick and South County as well. Willi said, “It’s nice to have an audience with the governor.”

She also attended a conference on hospitality with “many people from tourism” around the state and was also present at a reception at Green Airport celebrating start-up service by Jet Blue into the Rhode Island area.

Willi said she would notify the Town Council that Cullen, Logan Mott Chase and Marthens, whose terms were ending, had indicated their willingness to renew their positions on the council.

The next council meeting was scheduled for November 18 at 11 a.m.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Suzanne D Cotter | Dec 12, 2012 14:17

I think the glass float project is an awesome idea!  However, I bought two from Eben Horton at a later date as I was unable to be on the Island......they are clear, but all steamy inside and very unsatisfactory in my opinion!!  His response was that that is characteristic.......but you don't see any old time floats looking like that!!!  I bought them from him through Etsy, and was going to give them as gifts, but do not feel they are of a quality to do such.  I have seen other works of Eben's and they look to be first rate, so am not sure what's up with the floats I purchased.  Do anyone else's floats have this problem????

Flag as inappropriate

If you wish to comment, please login.