The Artists and Story Behind Lincoln City’s Glass Floats on the Beach

Once you’ve booked a beach home rental Lincoln City will be waiting for you to discover its unique tradition centered around blown glass on the Central Oregon coast. Each year volunteers hide 3,000 glass floats along Lincoln City’s seven miles of coastline between mid-October and Memorial Day, and the public are invited to take part in the hunt. But how did this tradition start, and who are the artists that make it happen?

A 21st Century Tradition

Visitors who walked the beaches of Lincoln City, Oregon in the early 20th century often found glass floats that Japanese fishing vessels left behind after releasing their nets in the waters miles away. These little treasures were highly collectible and continued to increase in value as fishing crews the world over adopted buoyant plastic to cast out their nets. Though the last Japanese-made glass floats disappeared from the Oregon coast long ago, a new era of glass floats on the beach would begin as the 20th century drew to a close. A local artist came up with the idea in 1997 as a way to celebrate the upcoming millennium, and the city inaugurated the Finders Keepers project in 1999. By Memorial Day of 2000, the first season of Finders Keepers had attracted thousands of visitors from around the country who were intrigued by this unique opportunity to enjoy the outdoors while appreciating art.

Since the inaugural season, local artists have produced more than 3,000 glass floats and other works of blown glass art every year, with numbered floats corresponding to the current year. This year there will be 2016 official glass floats that lucky beachcombers can find and register to receive a Certificate of Authenticity. With some of the best vacation rentals Oregon has to offer, though, you and your loved ones are sure to remember your Finders Keepers season whether you find a float or not.

The 2016/2017 Glass Artists

Lincoln City has a reputation for its glass floats and other forms of blown glass art, thanks in no small part to the tradition of Finders Keepers on the beach and the stable of local artists who keep this tradition afloat. The artists responsible for this year’s glass floats include Treasure Collupy from Lincoln City’s Alder House Glassblowing, Ryan Bledsoe and Amanda Williams from Newport’s The Edge Art Gallery, Claude Kurtz from Astoria’s Fernhill Glass, Brett Flanigan from Lincoln City’s Flanigans Glass Gallery, Keith Gabor from Ashland’s Gathering Glass Studio, Paris Birdwell from Otis’ Glass Oasis, Mark and Marcus Ellinger from Stanwood’s Glass Quest, William Murphy from Newport’s Oregon Coast Glassworks and several artists from Lincoln City’s Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio including Kelly Howard, Jon Meyers, Daniel Millen and James Benson.

Several Lincoln City artists will contribute other colorful works of glass art in the form of coins, crabs, sand dollars, sea stars, shells and other nautical subjects. Make sure to stop by Jennifer Sears Glass Art Studio to see glass art by Kelly Howard, Jon Meyers, Daniel Millen and James Benson; Mor Art for blown glass by Dan Watts and Maurice Martinez; and Glass Confusion for glass art by Marcia Glenn.

Whether you’re looking for a large family home to rent or a snug condo rental Lincoln City is ready to accommodate you and your loved ones this Finders Keepers season. With so many amazing artists sharing their work with the world, you’re sure to leave with something special by the time your Oregon holiday is through.