Summer is a popular time to head to the beach and look for sea glass while the cold North Atlantic waves wash over your feet. Laura Pierce hits the sand in the spring and fall, when the rest of us have fled to the comfort of our wood stoves and a cup of hot cocoa. That’s the best time to gather the beautiful materials she needs to make her Sea Buttons.

Pierce gets especially excited about hunting for sea glass and pottery shards served up by the sea when the local weather forecast calls for coastal erosion. She knows that means the beach level could shift as much as 3 feet and all the sand and rocks will move around. It doesn’t hurt that she lives in Whiting, 3 miles from the ocean, where the tides are as high as 17 feet because it’s on the edge of the Bay of Fundy.

“It’s also good if it’s misty because you can see the colors better,” Pierce said.

Pierce starts her serious search for button materials in October. If the tides are right, she might go to the beach four times a week, for five to six hours at a time. At her favorite hunting spots, which she keeps secret, she rarely sees anyone else on the beach.

Pierce lives in an old farmhouse, in between two lakes, where she moved with her now ex-husband from Massachusetts. She started selling jewelry and buttons after the divorce so she could afford to stay there.

She says the buttons aren’t much work – she just drills two holes in them for thread – but they do require a good eye. The sea glass buttons must have the same thickness and color, and they can’t be chipped.

Pierce says her colorful buttons are popular in fall because that’s when knitters are usually working on sweaters. The buttons average $5 each. Two cost $10-$12, and four $20-$24. The color also affects the price; rare colors cost more, and red and orange are the rarest. The buttons can be purchased at Pierce’s Iris Designs Etsy store or at KnitWit in Portland; The Cashmere Goat in Camden; The Maine Center for Craft in West Gardiner; Archipelago in Rockland; The Commons in Eastport; and Northern Tides in Lubec.

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