Blown-Glass Fisherman’s Floats from Japan

What on earth do these old, blown-glass, Japanese fisherman’s floats have to do with the Roaring Twenties? I’m so glad you asked!

Japanese fishermen used to use these blown-glass spheres to float their nets. (The Japanese weren’t the only ones, but they are the only ones that relate to my mystery, so excuse me if I focus on them.) Today fishermen use Styrofoam or something equally horrid, but in the old days, they used globes made of crudely blown glass. There was always a rough pontil mark on one side. Inevitably some of these floats would escape and float away, sometimes across the ocean to America, where beachcombers would find them washed ashore. They came in different sizes, but the color was almost always green or blue-green.

My Roaring Twenties mystery, The Impersonator, due to be published next year, takes place in part along the coast of Oregon, where the missing heiress used to walk after a storm to look for agates and the rare glass float. The floats play a modest part in the plot.

I own a few myself, since my grandparents were Army people who lived in Japan for several years during the Occupation in the late Forties. They brought several home with them when they returned in 1949. My grandmother put them in with her plants for decoration, so I did that with my characters. I think they’d make a nice cover image, and I’ll suggest that to the publisher when they get around to designing the cover.

Published in: on October 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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