Glass is fragile. You drop it and it breaks, you drill it and it breaks, you hammer a metal setting around it and it breaks, you force it in to a bezel and it breaks… No wonder that some of us would rather not work with glass! There are however some techniques that are used extensively. Here is a discussion of these techniques. I am sure the list is not exhaustive.
Wire wrapping techniques
These are really common. They are easy. You don’t need to work the glass itself. Note that wire techniques are not specially good for rings or for jewelry that is likely to get banged around. Some of these techniques are a bit flimsy and the piece of glass can come out of the setting. There are numerous different wire wrapping techniques. I refer you to just one website. There are also YouTube videos. Just google “wirewrap beach glass”. The “Blue Glass Pendant” shown here, was wrapped by myself with a homemade technique using fine silver wire, which is nice and soft. The earrings were wrapped by an unknown artist in Cusco, Peru.
Wire solder technique
You can use thick wire that is not easily formed or wrapped. I like to use gauge 18 Sterling silver. The idea is to create a “basket” with prongs, place the glass in the basket, and bend the prongs around the glass to hold it in place. I have attached an example. Here the prongs are the same in the front and the back so that is does not matter if the pendant flips over, as the front and the back look identical.
A variation of this technique allows for a smaller stone (blue sapphire in this case) to be set on one of the prongs!
This is more serious. You will have to cut your silver, solder it together and form a bezel that is shaped after the irregular piece of glass that you want to frame. It has become my favorite method because the bezel protects the piece of sea glass. If you shape the base of the bezel, you can accommodate a rounded piece of glass, such as a piece from the neck of a bottle. Here are a few examples.
Drilling the Glass
If you really want to make a hole in your sea glass, you can do so. Drill with a diamond bit, under cool water, carefully and slowly! I found out the hard way: it is easy to crack your piece of glass.
One can insert a silver grommet in the drilled hole for added stability, as shown in the last picture. But you will have to tap the grommet with a hammer to close it. That is tricky and can crack your piece of glass too! Best to use very soft and thin metal tubing for this purpose. Have fun.
I really love this! These are all such perfect settings for each piece of sea glass!
I love these pieces! Your wire wrapping technique is absolutely spotless! Beautiful! http://www.seaglass.us/
Thanks Sharon. I see you drill each piece of sea glass on your necklaces… what a headache! They are beautiful.
Wow what a site! Really some awesome artwork, I found a stone of some type on the beach that has a smiley face on it, well it does have the smile and if you look hard there is a eye that looks like a wink. It’s about 1/2″ thick and fairly rounded, I want to drill a hole through it and somehow make a necklace/pendant for my grand daughter out of it, short of blasting what type of drill would I use. Drill or coring type drill??
Look at the post on drilling stones! I use a simple Dremel drill (Home Depot) with a variety of different diamond bits. Important to drill under water! Good luck and thanks for visiting and sharing.
It’s nice to see a variation of techniques in this article. Thank you. Many artists are looking for genuine, ocean tumbled sea glass. West Coast Sea Glass sells real seaglass by the lot, various grades, colors, sizes and shapes. http://www.WestCoastSeaGlass.com