The creation of sea glass is a fascinating process. Not all glass in the sea comes from thoughtless people dumping their garbage into the salty waters. Sea glass also originates from shipwrecks or natural disasters. It is made from windows, bottles, tableware and even household appliances.
The mighty ocean shapes the discarded glass, transforming it into a magnificent piece. Eventually, it will end up on the sandy shores of a distant land far from its original home.
How Natural Sea Glass Is Created
The turbulent waters of the ocean break the glass into smaller pieces, which are then scraped and buffed by the churning water, wearing away their sharp edges.
The continuous contact with the water leaches away chemicals in the glass, giving it a frosted look.
Gradually, the finished pieces find their way to a shore where they may someday be collected and turned into beautiful pieces of art.
Man-Made Sea Glass
Nature’s way of making sea glass is not the only way.
People make their own sea glass by first cutting up sheets of glass into smaller pieces or using old bottles and jars. Then they put the glass into a rock tumbler.
This procedure rubs away at the material, smoothing and rounding sharp or jagged edges.
Finally, the glass is settled into an acid bath to give it that frosted look; this is how people try to imitate the effects of the ocean.
However, the sea glass produced by Mother Nature is considered superior to the man-made versions.
A Long Process
It takes sea glass a long time to take shape naturally. The more turbulent the environment is, the less time it takes for the glass to form.
In fiercely churning waters, it takes about twenty to thirty years for a well-rounded shard of sea glass to be created.
In calmer waters this process could take around fifty years. Though it obviously takes far less time to produce man-made sea glass, naturally formed glass is considered more desirable.
Sea Glass Colors
The most common colors of sea glass are green, brown, blue and a clear purple.
Black sea glass is the rarest of colors because it is hard to find. Most black glass bottles were made before the 1800’s.
In old times, it was believed that every time a sailor drowned at sea, the Mermaids would cry in sorrow. These magical tears would wash up onto the shore to become sea glass or, as it was called back then, “Mermaid Tears”.
Sometimes, in old town dumps, sea glass is heated in fires. Fire glass is the rarest type of sea glass and often has things captured within it.
Sea glass is used in crafts, jewelry, wind chimes and many other artistic projects.
Locations Where Sea Glass Can Be Found
Sea glass has been found all over the world in places such as California, Bermuda, England, Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy and Spain.
These places have yielded a generous bounty of glass made from bottles, stoppers, marbles, and pottery pieces.
The best areas to look for sea glass would be near harbors and in coves. Rocky coastlines are also a good source.
Look for sea glass at times when the tide is low. In the aftermath of a storm, pieces can often be found washed ashore.
Sea Glass Shapes
The natural churning of the ocean is often more uneven near rocks and other sea formations. This frequently shapes sea glass into a triangular shape, while near sandier areas glass becomes rounder.
Sea glass that has been shaped by nature often has tiny C-shaped marks across the surface and delicate hairline cracks running through it.
Sea glass is most often used in conjunction with a sterling silver setting. The silver complements the glass, emphasizing its colors and natural beauty.
Pieces of sea glass are sometimes mixed with semi-precious stones or shells on a bracelet. Larger pieces of glass can be set as a pendant in a necklace, while smaller pieces might do well as a pair of earrings.