Monday, March 2, 2015

Sea Glass, Beach Glass... Trash to Treasure

Sea Glass, Beach Glass or Mermaid Tears ...It is given so many names once it gets past its lowly start.

All of those come from what is basically trash that ended up in the ocean by many means, broken bottles falling off fishing piers, trash tossed into the ocean by homeowners, broken glass from houses that fell into the ocean and most commonly until about 15 years ago glass would be in the ballast waters of the large ships that would be released before reaching their Virginia port.  But about 15 years ago the habit of dumping Ballast water became non-existent due to regulations that were concerned other things were being transported.   Then there is the ecologic impact of less glass bottles and more plastic bottles going into the ocean glass has gotten harder to find here on the Outer Banks .  Except after a bad storm such as Irene or Sandy that would destroy houses and end up sending glass shards into the sea to be turned...or in one such case I know of a lady in Kitty Hawk her entire sea glass collection ended up in the bottom of the ocean when her house collapsed into the ocean....and yes people did find it bits and pieces here and there.

I am not really sure why or who chose to  present sea glass as jewelry, but thank them because it is truly beautiful.

There are places that people go to where they hunt what is called second day glass or shards of amazing glass for special glass pieces that you just do not find commonly.  they are usually very different colors where everyday glass is usually white, green or brown ....sometimes you find Lavender but you have to really look at it too see its true color lay it on a sheet of white paper.

I have been collecting Sea Glass or Beach Glass as some call it , but to me the first is the right terminology as it takes the sea to make it....the process of the ocean hydrating and dehydrating  where the lime and soda is removed from the glass creating the pitting and softening the sheen of the glass to a beautiful sought after matte finish.   If you find pieces of Sea Glass that are half shiny , we call those pieces half cooked...and pieces that the edges might be smooth but the glass is still shiny get tossed back for more cooking.   I love Sea Glass and am a purist when it comes to making my jewelry which  is not very often anymore...I refuse to drill holes in it ...some pieces of glass took a hundred years to get smooth.  I find Sea Glass very attuned to had to go through all the rough and tumble of its life in the ocean till one day it washed up on a beach smooth and pretty and was found by someone who appreciated it for the journey...and maybe put it in a jar or special place with others of its kind...or had it made or made it into a beautiful piece of jewelry to be appreciated in the sunlight of life.

I have posted pics of uncooked pieces and half cooked  and then some beautiful pieces fully cooked and ready to be made into a treasure one day.

So next time you go walking on the beach ...look a little closer you may be blessed with a sea treasure although it is getting harder and harder to find, since the invention of the plastic bottles , and the diminished dumping of ship ballast from over seas.   But look you never know especially after a storm may just find a sea jewel .

Outer Banks Sea Glass collected over the last 75 years

some nice pieces here waiting for the day to be made into jewelry

Some sorta cooked....these would be tossed back for further cooking

needs more cooking time ...see how they are still shiny....maybe another 5 to 25 years to be pretty

Pottery Shard found in Hatteras , even these make beautiful jewelry

a picture of some of the variety of the colors    Linda Jereb...the first as far as I am concerned NC Sea Glass Artist....and very talented , devoted to the real glass and the treasure they are to us who love it.
 great info about Sea Glass History


  1. I was lucky to find my first piece of sea glass on the Cape Hatteras Nat'l Seashore 4 years ago on my first trip to the Outer Banks. I have longed to go back hunting since then and hope to return next year! Thanks for sharing your photos. ~ Janelle

  2. Micountrygal...hope you will email me your snail mail addressso I can send you some sea glass ..the pieces are pretty....