“Do you have beach glass jewelry?” That is a question I often get when I am exhibiting at an Arts & Crafts Fair.
So, yes, I do work with beach or sea glass, terms which are often used interchangeably (see the images in this post). As any beachcomber knows, a nice piece of glass is a good find. An uncommon color, a well worn piece (which is old), a recognizable lettering or name that can help date the piece, these are features we all look for.
I have learned that beach glass is very popular. A search on the etsy.com website for “beach glass” got 12,484 hits and a search for “sea glass” got 22,050 hits. Those are items for sale, either handmade jewelry, vintage pieces or supplies (such as bundles or bulk lots of beach glass). Even with so many buyers and sellers, there is surprisingly little knowledge on this product. So I tried to educate myself and researched the web on beach glass and found some interesting stuff.
The Wikipedia page on “Sea Glass” is informative. It is particularly strong on the colors that are sought after and links each color to the possible source: for example red sea glass from old Schlitz beer bottles (1900-1982). Schlitz was a brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which became Stroh Brewery and is now Pabst Brewing Company. As with red glass of Schlitz bottles, there are many examples where the particular color helps to date the glass.
Much of this information comes from a book written by LaMotte, who is referred to as the “Godfather of Sea Glass”. LaMotte together with Charles Peden founded the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA). Their website has news about the Sea Glass Festival in October. A very useful page compares natural (genuine) sea glass, versus “craft glass” (or artificial glass) tumbled in drums rather than by the action of waves over many years. You can also find information on antique bottle collecting and a link to Antique Bottle Collector’s Haven! On this site you can appraise your antique bottle and date it.
An interesting article describes the amethyst color brought out by sunlight over the years. It is due to manganese dioxide that was added to glass prior to the 1920s to produce colorless glass by counteracting the natural green hue from iron. Manganese when exposed to UV light over the years turns to an amethyst color.
A frequent query is about which beaches have sea glass. It turns out that old dumping sites are where you need to go. There are a few well know ones such as Glass Beach in Fort Bragg CA. But also many others world wide. Storms are supposed to unearth old sites of beach glass. But I think you are better off asking locals about where the town dump used to be 50-100 years ago! A how-to-method for walking the beach and scouring for beach glass can also be found on the web. I have a page on the 40 Beaches of East Hampton town. Some of these beaches contain lots of sea glass, in particular around the ‘Promised Land’!
Finally I found an interesting story about Louise Rogers who made a fortune with her hobby of collecting sea glass. She has over a million pieces that she found personally.
For now, take care and happy beachcombing. David
Genie, is a dear friend. She reminded me of this piece I made for her a few years ago. It is a glass bottle neck with a sapphire in silver. I had forgotten about it! (photo courtesy of Genie Posnett)
I have also got some new sea glass pieces listed in ETSY.