Saturday, August 22, 2020

Fun story about an annual scavenger hunt in Rhode Island

From an article about the Glass Float Project:

Hundreds of beautiful handblown glass fishing floats are scattered across the wilderness of Block Island each year, attracting an underground society of fanatics who will stop at nothing to find them.

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Mr. Horton, a 46-year-old glass artist, started the Glass Float Project in 2012 as a whimsical scavenger hunt, just for fun.

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Block Island swells from under 1,000 year-round residents to roughly 20,000 visitors per day at the height of summer. People come for the beaches and restaurants, but most never explore the deceptively wild and desolate natural areas. The scavenger hunt became a gateway to a different world.

Now in its eighth year, the Glass Float Project has worked its way into the daily flow of Mr. Horton’s gallery. While waiting for the furnace to get hot each morning, he, his wife, Jennifer Nauck, and their two assistants fill in time gaps by making floats.

The four-person crew makes 550 highly coveted floats each year. They etch the year and a number onto each with a Dremel bit. Most are clear glass. The annual No. 1 typically has gilding.

A certain amount (corresponding with the current year) are colored. Found floats are registered on the island’s website to keep track of what’s still at large. Orbivores are held to an honor system: only one float per person per year, to keep things fair.

For 2020, Mr. Horton felt inspired to create something beautiful and lighthearted in a year that has been anything but. This year’s No. 1 is a colorful coronavirus particle, which he calls “the Rona.” A typical glass float takes 10 minutes to make, but the Rona took Mr. Horton several hours.

The orbivores went wild, asking whether he would make more available for purchase. As a compromise, Mr. Horton created a second Rona to be raffled off, with proceeds helping to fund future floats.