The month of July just got a lot more colorful. The World's Biggest Marble Hunt is guaranteed to bring people from all over to find hidden blown glass marbles throughout Humboldt County. They're exquisite work of art you can hold in the palm of your hand and hunting them may become your favorite summer activity.
The World's Biggest Marble Hunt sprang into being in 2016, led by Missouri glass artist Will Stuckenberg and fueled by a coalition of artisan marble makers. The first hunt ended when the treasure chest of $13,000 worth of marbles was found on Pikes Peak in Colorado. Humboldt marble maker Topher Reynolds got involved in 2017, when he launched a local marble convention. Humboldt quickly took on the new sport, setting a record of more than 3,000 marbles hidden over a three-day Humboldt Marble Weekend that February. Locals set more records when three of Humboldt's finest marble makers joined 33 other artists to create the most collaborative marble in history.
Any marble hunt is guided by the rules: Be polite, don't pollute, don't be destructive, have fun. And when you find the treasure, you must post that it was found. Don't leave some family disappointed like Scott of the Antarctic after Amundsen beat him to the South Pole by mere days. If you decide to hide, find the right marble. Most marbles people hide cost between $10-$60, but the amount you want to spend is dependent upon your wallet and your generosity. You are essentially giving this marble to some lucky stiff while supporting a talented glassblower. (Marble hunting has a strong pay-it-forward ethic.) All hiding spots must be in public areas. There is no need to upset private landowners either in the hiding or the finding. If you hunt or hide art glass, please follow the rules to keep it fun and accessible for everyone.
You can also celebrate National Marble Day on July 23 by buying a marble from Topher Reynolds at the Glass Garage, STIL in Eureka or Glass House Supply in Arcata. Humboldt is marking its territory as a premiere spot for artisan marbles. Now is the time to collect from Humboldt artists like Mario East, Chad Parker, Eric Spinney, Kim Trett and Marcose Walton. Or Reynolds himself, named the 2021 Eureka Artist of the Year and featured in National Geographic (January, 2022). Many marble makers also sell through social media, like the by-invitation Facebook group Black Market Marbles. The joy of giving such a treat is deeply satisfying. Finding one to add to your own collection, equally so.
The United Nations declared 2022 the Year of Glass. To celebrate, the coveted prize for this year's hunt is the World's Greatest Marble Treasure. You can motivate a less-than-enthusiastic team member by taking them to the Clarke Historical Museum, where more than 150 fabulous marbles donated by more than 100 artists — some valued in the thousands of dollars — are on display in the World's Greatest Marble Treasure Hunt exhibit until near the end of July. If you can't make it to the exhibit, view the World's Biggest Treasure Hunt Artist Invitation on YouTube. The old timey marble players who coveted a cat's eye would lose their minds over this trove of prismatic glory wrought from molten strands. So will you. The stunning earth with wispy clouds or the microcosm of delicate sea life may grab you, or perhaps the mesmerizing abstracts that invite you to contemplate the universe. All 158 marbles of this collection will be hidden.
The best way to get involved is to follow the World's Biggest Marble Hunt on Facebook. Read the posts to get familiar with how things work. You can also be invited to follow the private group Humboldt Magical Glass Adventure after answering a few questions. Marble hunts happen all the time. It just depends on who has a marble and where they want to hide it. Some marble hiders love to give great clues, even crafting maps. Others like to make sure you get to see the top of that cool view on the Lost Coast. You can choose a hunt based on difficulty of terrain, beauty of location or simply because you must have that perfect marble. The best part is you can take the family exploring and create a cherished memory of the day you did indeed find treasure. Because sometimes X really does mark the spot. Visit www.worldsbiggestmarblehunt.com for more information.
Meg Wall-Wild (she/her) is a freelance writer and photographer who loves her books, the dunes of Humboldt, and her husband, not necessarily in that order. When not writing, she pursues adventure in her camper, Nellie Bly. On Instagram @megwallwild.