Many beachgoers and beachcombers collect sea-glass also known as beach glass and display it in pretty decorative jars and vases around the home. Sea glass goes with nautical or beach themed rooms and homes as well as outdoor or natural decors – these are not hard and fast rules, sea glass can be used anywhere. Some decorators and crafters use sea-glass to adorn mirrors, picture frames or create mosaics, while others make jewelry or charms for wine glasses. Besides being a beautiful addition to a room, collecting sea-glass is a great way to create “green” craft projects.
What is sea-glass?
sea-glass is actually broken pieces of bottles and jars that the ravages of water smooth sharp edges and remove the high shine. sea-glass hunters can find a variety of colors ranging from clear to brown to green with the most prized color being cobalt blue. Each piece of sea glass has its own shape and rarely are any two pieces alike, adding to the uniqueness of any sea-glass project or display.
Many homeowners love the look of sea-glass, but don’t live near enough to a beach to hunt for this unlikely treasure. sea-glass can be purchased from craft suppliers or glass suppliers. Buying it, even in bulk, can be a pricey proposition. Making your own sea glass is easy and much faster than spending weeks or even months combing the beach for enough sea-glass to fill your vase or finish your project. Making your own beach glass also allows you to determine the color you want.
Save your own glass jars and bottles in the desired color.
Ask friends, neighbors and relatives to save jars and bottles for you.
If you are looking for a particular color such as purple or cobalt blue and you’ve only seen wine bottles in this color, but are not much of a wine drinker – visit a few local restaurants and bars and ask if you can dig through their recycling.
Always wash all of your collected jar and bottles with hot soapy water to remove residue from the inside and labels from the outside. If the labels are firmly attached with glue – sand the glue and paper off with coarse sandpaper. Don’t worry about scratching you will never see it later.
Collecting bottles and jars for repurposing is a great way to recycle.
Preparing the Jars and Bottles
Place the jars and bottles into a bucket outdoors.
Put on safety goggles and heavy work gloves.
Lay a large towel or rag over and allow the rag to drape over the sides of the bucket to contain any glass shards that may fly.
Smack the towel or rag with a hammer to break into pieces.
Remove the towel to examine the broken glass pieces.
Pick out pieces that are 1 to 2 inches or even slightly bigger or smaller. Set the correctly sized pieces aside.
Shake the bucket to redistribute the pieces inside the bucket. If many of the pieces are still large, stack them up near the center of the bucket to make breaking a little easier.
Place the towel or rag back over the remaining bits.
Strike the towel with the hammer again.
Remove the towel and pick out the usable glass pieces.
Continue to break glass with this method until the jars or bottles are all broken into your desired size.
Dispose of the small unusable shards of glass safely. The glass shards are very sharp and can cause serious injury.
Making Your Own Sea Glass or Beach Glass
Place the pieces of broken glass into a rock tumbler. Rock tumblers come in a variety of sizes and each has its own maximum capacity, refer to the tumbler manufacturer’s instructions to determine how glass can fit into the barrel.
Add ¼ to ½ cups of coarse sand, depending on the capacity of the tumbler and approximately ¼ cup of water. If you have a very small or very large tumbler make adjusts on the amount of sand and water based on the rock tumblers capacity.
Lock the door to the tumbler and turn it on.
Allow it to tumble for 24 to 48 hours.
Turn off the tumbler and dump the contents into a bucket.
Take the glass and sand outdoors.
Pick pieces of tumbled glass out of the wet sand in the bucket and place them in an old strainer or colander. If the edges of the glass are too sharp for your project or tastes, place the glass, sand and water back into the tumbler and allow it to tumble again. Check the progress of the glass every 4 to 6 hours. Stop the tumbler when you’ve reached the desired smoothness of the glass edges.
Rinse the glass to remove excess sand with a light spray from a garden hose. Never rinse the sand off the glass in an indoor sink because the debris will cause a major clog in the drain pipes. After rinsing the glass rinse the area to push small shards off to the side so you can pick them up.
Rinse the inside of the tumbler with water to remove excess sand and debris.
Place the glass back into the tumbler.
Add ¼ cup of fine sand and 3 to 4 tablespoons of water.
Turn the tumbler on for 24 to 48 hours.
Check the progress of the glass to determine if it has reached the smoothness and color you were expecting. If the glass hasn’t met your expectations, return it to the tumbler with the fine sand and water and turn it on again. Check the progress of the glass every 4 to 6 hours.
Empty the contents of the tumbler into a bucket and bring it outside.
Rinse the tumbled glass off with water from a garden hose.
Dump the glass into a strainer or colander and rinse it well.
Dry the glass or allow it to air dry before using it for a project or display.