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Do Mermaids' Tears Become Sea Glass? A magical roadtrip to Norfolk...

"Mermaid Tears" by Nancy Crossman

Oh how many tragic tears, 
Must mermaids weep each day? 

To leave behind the trail of gems, 
Washed up on the shore in the bay.

Beautifully sculpted sea glass, 
Is mermaid’s tears they say, 

But it may be magical, mystical dust, 
Sprinkled by mermaids at play.

Maybe the sparkling pieces of glass, 
Were not really theirs to keep, 

So every day, when the tide goes out, 
They toss them back onto the beach.

Perhaps they’re being playful, 
Teasing us into their game, 

They sprinkle treasures for us to find, 
Not to join them would be a shame.

My imagination is greatly piqued, 
As I comb the beach, deep in thought.

Walking along the ocean floor, 
To see what the tide has brought. This week's Wandering Wednesday was inspired by this beautiful Mermaid poem. The idea of sea glass being little treasures left behind by mermaids, who want to entice us to come play in the ocean, seems wonderfully magical and mystical. Being a Pisces myself, I feel most at home by the water. The mermaids were calling us this week, and so we headed to Norfolk to explore mermaids and glass by the sea.

For those that have never been to Norfolk, the city's mascot is a mermaid with outstreached arms. You can see mermaid art installations all around the city. The Norfolk Chamber of Commerce even has an interactive map of mermaid locations. (See

Which brings me to our first stop in Norfolk: a newly-opened business called The Mermaid Factory. ( After multiple attempts to find Norfolk mermaid gift items for departing friends and visiting family, owners Robert and Elaine took the matter into their own hands... literally. They opened THE MOST charming and fun store called The Mermaid Factory. At The Mermaid Factory, customers can purchase plaster mermaids fashioned after the Norfolk statues or, better yet, paint and costume their own mermaid at tables in the store, using acrylic paint, glitter, fabric, shells and other materials.

We, of course, wanted to paint our own. We were so glad that we had called ahead for a reservation as the place was packed. They had a steady stream of folks stopping in to paint mermaids the entire time we were there.

They sat us at a table with brushes, paint palates and a white molded-plaster mermaid and stand, and gave us instructions about how much paint to use and how to add accessories and embellishments. The crowd was varied, from moms with kids, to teenagers, to a group of teachers painting mermaids featuring their school colors. There are so many options and ideas in the store, the hardest part is deciding on a design for your mermaid. Alex and I decided to do variations on a sea blue theme, while my son decided to paint his maroon and gold in tribute to #10 (RGIII) and the Redskins. If you plan to make your own masterpiece, you’ll need to carve out some time. Customers spend about 2-2 1⁄2 hours on each one. We were there about 2 hours (and could have stayed longer if we didn't have other places to be). My kids exclaimed that it was "their favorite place ever!" The finished creations are really quite beautiful! (When you check out, I was most impressed that they pack your mermaid in a special box so its gets home safely.) This place is definitly worth drive from Richmond!

Now that we had our mermaids, we went in search of glass. The nearby Chrysler Museum of Art fit the bill in two ways: the Chrysler Glass Studio and the Chrysler Glass Wing exhibit. You gotta visit the free noontime glass blowing demonstrations that happen daily at the Chrysler Glass studio! Resident artists explain and show you the glass blowing process in an mesmorizing and often humerous way. You can even bring your lunch to this noontime "art in motion" tradition -- the museum calls this their "Hot Lunch Special!"

After the Glass Studio presentation, we headed across the street to the newly-renovated Chrysler Museum of Art. The Chrysler Museum of Art holds one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of glass in the world, with more than 10,000 glass objects spanning 3,000 years (from ancient glass to glass by Tiffany, Frank Loyd Wright, Dale Chihuly, and many other 20th century artists.) Did you know that it was the ancient Romans who learned how to shape glass using a blowpipe? Hands down, the kids each had a favorite glass piece from the collection. Alex's was a doll house and furniture made entirely of glass. Caden and I both were awestruck by a large glass globe by a Czech artist named Stanislav Libensky that contained an anastronomical calendar cast inside. (Scroll down for photos)

We finished up the day with a quick bite to eat at the Norfolk waterfront where we watched the aircraft carriers and ferry boats and then headed back to RVA. Driving back, as the moon rose, I thought of a quote we had seen in Norfolk: "Ill always think of a mermaid lagoon, hidden under summer's full moon." (author unknown) Goodnight to all of Norfolk's mermaids... We will certainly be back to play another day.

If you go: What: The Mermaid Factory Where: 919 W. 21st St., Norfolk When: Tuesday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. More info: or call 757-233-0733 to make a reservation. They also do birthday parties and special events. What: The Chrysler Museum of Art

Where: One Memorial Place, Norfolk, Virginia 23510

When: Tuesday-Saturday 10a-5pm and Sunday noon-5pm.

More info: (757) 664-6200 or

(PS: I dedicate this week's blog to my 2 favorite "Lindsey"s (ey and ay). My amazing niece Lindsey was the one who tipped me off to the Mermaid Factory. My amazing spa girl Lindsay has had a lifelong fascination with sea glass. You both were top of mind during this adventure. Love you.)

Wandering Wednesday
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Wandering Wednesday

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