A pirate’s sea chest of sparkling jewels can be collected over a lifetime by beachcombers who have time and patience to gather sea glass. Sea glass is basically any glass, mostly from bottles, that has been tumbled, buffed and polished by the energy of the sea. Most sea glass comes from beach litter, but virtually any kind of glass that makes its way into the ocean from a shipwreck, garbage barge, or from careless mariners, ultimately becomes sea glass. It is prized by jewelry makers and carries the romance, adventure, and of course, the ceaseless power of the sea in each unique piece.
So far as garbage that hurts marine life, sea glass is less offensive then plastic. It is also now much rarer, and that is unfortunate, because it means so many corporations have replaced glass containers with the more lethal plastic ones which often kill and starve marine animals. That is just one reason that all people should not purchase plastic, and insist upon less damaging glass, or bio-degradable containers for all produced goods.
If one if lucky enough to live near a beach, spending a lazy afternoon gathering bits of sparkling sea glass is quite rewarding.
Fortunately, for those who like the look of sea glass it can be created at home with a rock tumbler, a cup of lemon juices and a day or two in the tumbling machine. Or, a crafter can simply submerge glass for weeks in one part water and one part citrus juice. The lemon juice serves to create a frosted look to the glass. In the actual sea, this process is known as hydration. It simply means that the lime and soda composition of colored glass is slowly leaching out and etching the glass with a frosted look. This process varies and most bits of sea glass are as individual, and very lovely, considering this once upon a time trash has been tempered by the ocean, now destined to become art.
Colors of most sea glass are brown, green, amber and clear. Harder to find are glass bits from red, blue and purple glass. As mentioned, most sea glass comes from broken bottles, so the colors are much to the same degree of assortment and variation as one would find on supermarket shelves.
The ebb and flow of surging ocean waves, and on rocky beaches, the constant battering of the glass is a good thing. Since the sea rounds off the sharp edges of most objects, they are less likely to be injurious to barefoot beachcombers and innocent animals.
For craft enthusiasts who like to use sea glass in jewelry and homemade décor, these days, there is also available man made, recycled glass, “sea glass” in most craft and hobby stores. This alternative way of obtaining sea glass may be best, because it does not depend upon littering shores or oceans. However, the crafter must be careful to choose such glass that is actually recycled, and not just produced in bulk. This choice both protects beaches and marine life from garbage glass, and it up-cycles old glass to be used rather than wasted.