North American Sea Glass Association

Lisl Armstrong is a member of the North American Sea Glass Association

The North American Sea Glass Association was founded by a team of sea glass collectors who saw a need to work together to educate the public about the differences between genuine sea glass and artificial sea glass. The NASGA is best known for hosting the annual North American Sea Glass Festival. The festival is well attended by collectors, artists, authors and enthusiasts from all over the world.

The NASGA is made up of devoted volunteers who spend countless hours working on anything from shoreline restoration to organizing festivals. As a collector who has a sea glass jewelry business I am very grateful to the NASGA. Up until a few years ago most of my experience in selling sea glass jewelry took place in Rincon, Puerto Rico. Many of my customers had collected sea glass on the beaches of Rincon before finding their way to me or my local gallery space. So it was pretty self explanatory that my sea glass jewelry was made with real sea glass. Now that I live stateside, and mostly market my jewelry on the internet, I find the NASGA to be a sanctuary for those of us who are authentic in our work. The NASGA has also benefited the sea glass consumer who because of the efforts of the NASGA is better equipped to tell the difference between real sea glass and fake sea glass.

I have served on the board of the North American Sea Glass Association as the vice president. I am honored to have been one of the very first to be elected to the board. In late 2011 while serving as the vice president of the NASGA two members of our family became terminally ill. I called the president of the NASGA and the executive board members in early January 2012 and told them that I needed to step down as soon as possible because of what was going on in my family. On Thursday January 12, 2012 the rest of the board members were told of my plans to resign. Once things were in line for the transition an announcement was sent out to the membership. I remain on excellent terms with the board. My resignation was pure and clean and had nothing to do with any personal or business conflicts. If I ever wanted to join the board again nothing hinders me from running for or holding a position on the board. The decision to leave was mine and mine alone and was based solely on the fact that my energies were needed for more important things that had to do with my family. If I had not resigned I would probably still be on the board. I am honored that the NASGA still to this day asks for my help with various projects. While living in the Caribbean I spent many years on the board of one of the Caribbean's most powerful environmental organizations. Although I wouldn't change a thing I promised myself that I would never do it again! After attending the North American Sea Glass Festival - 2008 in Lewes, Delaware I opened up to the idea of serving on the board as I found the NASGA to be a very upbeat and proactive community of people. I am very happy that I had the opportunity to serve on the board.

When I was first elected to the board membership criteria allowed people to join who sell and or work with artificial sea glass. They had to be honest about it and the sea glass had to be properly labeled as such. Initially,  I had no argument with this. I had a live and live attitude towards the whole thing. I figured if people were honest then that was OK with me. My fellow board members were passionately unanimous that NASGA members must only sell and work with authentic sea glass. Then at a member meeting at the North American Sea Glass Festival in Erie, in which most of the membership was in attendance, there was a loud outcry from the membership about people who make/sell artificial sea glass being in the NASGA. The room was put to a vote and the vote was unanimous - from that point on if someone wanted to be a NASGA member they could not sell or work with fake sea glass. I often get the credit or blame for this decision. However, if left to me in the beginning I would have left it alone. Since then I see the wisdom in this decision. The NASGA must be a sanctuary for real sea glass sellers etc. Otherwise it could ultimately be co-opted by those in the fake sea glass industry.

Basically all the NASGA can do is educate about authentic sea glass and maintain an alliance of people that work with real sea glass. It can not be in the business of enforcing trademarks or copyrights. These disputes can only be resolved by the individual parties or in a court of law. The NASGA does not have the expertise to evaluate copyright/trademark claims and it certainly does not have the legal authority to enforce copyrights/trademarks.