You may have heard that the last few years have presented some serious challenges for Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum. We weathered Superstorm Sandy. Who would have guessed that 30 minutes of a storm surge could cause $350,000 in damage?
Last year, just when we thought repairs were finally in our rear view mirror, a faulty fire suppression system sprinkler head left us gutting the Visitors Center again. Thanks to generous donations, tremendous community support, and a small army of dedicated volunteers, Tuckerton Seaport has not only survived but thrived in the face of adversity.
In sports they often say it’s a rebuilding year. The Seaport is planning for 2018 to be a building year. Your donation can help make this possible.
When you come to Tuckerton Seaport, folklife is all around you. You can hear the wood sing as the carver cuts off pieces with his drawknife, smell the cedar in the Boatworks, and feel the fabric as you see the fiber artists quilting. Tuckerton Seaport plans to expand Jersey traditions programming in 2018 with blacksmithing and glassworks shops.
Once you walk out of the Visitors Center and approach the boardwalk, you will see our new blacksmith shop where you can feel the heat of the forge, hear the metal striking iron, and see useful and artistic pieces being forged out of fire and metal. There have been blacksmith shops in our town for over 100 years. The 1895 Sanborn map of our town shows a blacksmith shop next door to our current location. Blacksmith programming will add to the story we tell of how people lived and worked on the Barnegat Bay and in the Pinelands. Stephen Nuttall, local blacksmith and Seaport volunteer explains, “Our blacksmith shop will serve as an example of folk art that is important to our history. Not only is it vital to keep traditional folklife alive through exhibitions, demonstrating inspires others to continue this tradition.” A blacksmith shop will re-engage returning guests and encourage a new audience to visit and learn.
Glass Works at Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum
The addition of a glass artisan and studio to the Jersey Shore Folklife Center at the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum would bring that tradition to life for museum guests and students. As the Jersey Shore Folklife Center programming expands to incorporate new mediums and folk art traditions, the inclusion of a glass blowing studio seems not only natural but ideal. The glass studio would provide opportunities for glass blowing classes as well as demonstrations for museum guest and student groups. Additionally, there are opportunities for objects made in the studio to reside in folk art exhibits and other areas within the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum. The gift shop will also house glass items for consignment sale.
History of Glass in South Jersey
It is no secret that there was once a thriving glass industry in South Jersey; it’s the story of the Barnegat Bay’s contribution to that success which is often overlooked. The area’s abundant natural resources, as well as those who harvested them, provided a strong foundation for the development of world-class manufactured and artisanal glass. In the early 1800s, South Jersey was home to more early glass works than any other region in the country – approximately 48 glass works within a 50 mile radius of the current location of the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum.
What made South Jersey a hotbed for glass?
Plentiful Pinelands lumber fueled the factories furnaces. Salt Marshes provided plenty of salt hay, an inexpensive packing material. Locally harvested oyster shells provided the lime necessary for glass manufacturing. And, perhaps most importantly, an abundance of pristine sand made South Jersey integral to the success of the glass industry. It was not the sand on the seashore, but rather, South Jersey’s interior sand reserves, permeated by rain water and cleansed of contaminants, that allowed the local glass industry to flourish from the mid-18th to the early 20th century. The sand found in the interior of South Jersey has a very low concentration of iron, which can cause coloration in the resulting glass. So sought after was South Jersey’s pure sand supply that was often imported to other states, such as Massachusetts, where it was used in the manufacture of highly collectable Boston & Sandwich Glass Company glass.
While the manufacture of these utilitarian objects laid the groundwork for a booming South Jersey glass industry, it wasn’t long before glass artisans began using the ordinary bottle or window glass to make decorative objects. As South Jersey glass artisans experimented with blowing techniques and other applied decorative elements, the influence of European glass traditions, such as “loops” and “threads” (a thin trail of molten glass drawn around the vessel), remained evident, but decorative innovations such as the “lily pad,” are uniquely American (and more importantly, South Jersey born!). Eventually, the collective innovations that make up South Jersey’s regionally distinctive style became known as making glass in the “South Jersey Tradition.”
Please consider making a donation to the Annual Appeal today. Your contribution helps build programs, buildings, and the Seaport’s ability to serve the community. Help us build the future of the Seaport!