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Sea Glass

September 6, 2012

I’m dreaming of beach cottages, sand in my toes, and frothy waves tickling my feet and legs. Since the temps here in S. CA stubbornly remain in the high 90s or more, I have to do something to distract myself, thus my beachy fantasies. What I am really longing to do is get out there and search for beach glass. Yes, that illusive trophy sought after in the shifting sands of lake and ocean beaches world wide. Sea glass is becoming more scarce with every passing day. Quite fortunate are the collectors  who still find sea glass in a broad array of colors. Because we live in a culture that embraces disposability…and plastic!…there is little doubt that sea glass is becoming an obsolete resource around the globe. Collectors today are actually preserving fragile traces of our past. The hunt for pure sea glass will only get more challenging with each passing day.

Sea glass is physically and chemically weathered glass found on beaches along bodies of fresh and salt water. These weathering processes produce natural frosted glass. Hobbyists often fill decorative jars with their collections and take great pleasure in tracing a shard’s provenance while artisans craft beautiful pieces of jewelry, stained glass and other decorative pieces from sea glass. Some collectors even use their collections in creating beautiful works of art by putting them in cement or other adhesive to create a mosaic. A girlfriend of mine has collected for a long time and used her pieces to make back splashes in her kitchen and bathroom. Talk about one of a kind……and so very, very beautiful!

The color of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, ceramics or sea pottery. The most common colors are kelly green, brown, and white. Less common colors are jade, amber, and soft blue. Very rare colors are purple, teal, gray, pink, black, yellow, red, and orange. Orange is only found once in every 10,000 pieces of sea glass. Some shards of black glass are quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles

Sea glass can be found all over the world, but the beaches of the northeast United States, Bermuda, California, northwest England, Mexico, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Nova Scotia, Australia, Italy and southern Spain are famousfor their bounty of sea glass, bottles, bottle lips and stoppers, art glass, marbles, and pottery shards. The best times to look are during spring tides and during the first low tide after a storm.

Many collectors are excited to discover the identity of the original glass. The majority of glass picked up from beaches is from bottles. So when a shard is found from tableware or an ornamental object such as Milk Glass, Slag glass, or even Vaseline glass, it is particularly exciting. When the type of glass is known, it can lead to an estimate of its age, especially if it was only produced during a specific time period. Calculating the length of time that the piece has been exposed to the elements is a much greater challenge. Visiting glass museums, local antique bottle shows, and web sites will also provide the sea-glass lover with a wealth of knowledge. In North America, the hobby has the North American Sea Glass Association, which organizes a yearly conference and issues a newsletter.

             Sea Glass

Floppy pink hat

Squishy bare feet

She wandered the beach

In quest of scarce gems

Scattered on the shore

Like splotches from

A child’s paint box

By wild sea, roving tide.


Archaic vestiges

Who knew where

They had been?

Teal and pink

Amber and jade

Alabaster and chocolate

Teardrops burnished

By afternoon sun.


She held them gently

Fragments from long ago

Stories of lives lived, lost

Secrets never told

All polished now

And locked away

Inside those mystic

Jewels from the sea.

             by Helen Carson

Here’s to beachy days and beautiful sea glass.

Chatty Grandma


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  1. Jeannie permalink

    they are much more interesting now that I have read your blog.

  2. grandjem permalink

    Just the answer to my question a week ago on Pinterest about Sea Glass on a California beach. TY

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