50 Shades of Grey at the flower show

I kid you not. It came up in - totally - innocent conversation with Gene Allen, who sells beach glass jewelry at a booth called Beach Glass Bingo (of course I'm going to tell you where it is - booth 413) at the show. But before we get into that, I have to tell you - I must be getting old - this beach glass is interesting stuff.

Gene says it takes 30 to 40 years for glass on the beach to get totally smoothed out. And the supply of beach glass appears to be dwindling. For one thing, the great places to find it - landfills set by the ocean in Nova Scotia, for example  - are being picked clean by collectors, artists, jewelry-makers and people wanting to wreck beach glass businesses.


Another factor: So much is "bottled" in plastic now. And recyclers - yes, we are part of the problem - are cutting into the supply big time, says Gene, a singer and actor who with his partner gave it all up and moved to Hawaii for a better quality of life as a beach glass business guy.

But they soon realized that it was difficult and expensive to travel from Hawaii to sell at art shows all over the U.S. So they moved to San Diego. This is their second year at the flower show and Gene says business is good.

OK, now for the 50 Shades stuff. The middle necklace in this photo has pieces of beach glass encased in what look like... are those miniature metal cages? Well, Gene used to call these pieces "beach glass in bondage." Then when a certain book by E.L. James started making women crazy, they were renamed "50 Shades of Grey."

If you think the lines for "Jack the Ripper" are long, just wait.

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