Beach glass?

Does anyone know how one goes about finding or making their own
beach glass, Ive heard that you can find your own colored glass,
and put it in a tumbler, is this all there is to the process or
is there more? I want to use it for wirewrapping…an
answer from anyone will be appreciated

I have collected beach glass for many years liveing in MI it’s
easy to find all along the shores of the great lakes… but I
suppose that any area with lots of wrecks and or long history of
parties ( with various bottles ) would do …the tumbler I have
no idea but I think it would be hard to duplicate the satiny
texture of glass polished by X # of years in sand and surf …if
you send me your address I will send you some… so you can
compare the real with whatever you make …don’t think I forgot
youif it takes awhile I have just moved and have no clue where my
glass is Ron

Hello Lynn, I see you’re down in So. California, where I grew up
combing beaches (near Seal Beach). Beach glass down there is a
rarity. I think because you usually find it on beaches with a lot
of pebbles - not too many of those in So Cal. Up here on the
North Coast there is more, and in Fort Bragg (near Mendocino)
there is a beach called “Glass Beach” where all the “pebbles” are
small, tumbled pieces of glass. The “beach” is actually the site
of an abandoned landfill which is greadually being eroded by the

   Does anyone know how one goes about finding or making their
own beach glass, Ive heard that you can find your own colored
glass, and put it in a tumbler, is this all there is to the
process or is there more?   I want to use it for

I’ve tried making my own beach glass, and it turned out to be a
total failure. What I did was, purchase some course grit, and let
the pieces of glass vibrate (as I was told to do) for a few days.
What I found were some, not so sharp edges (good), shiny pieces
of glass (bad - they weren’t supposed to be shiny!!!) What I
have heard since is that etching compound (found in many craft
supply stores) works well to etch the glass – giving it that
frosted look. But, for the sharp edges, perhaps, heating
(melting) with a torch is the answer (before etching.) Remember,
you need to heat the glass slowly, or it will shatter.

Have fun! A friend purchased two bags of "beach or Ocean glass"
in Florida and sent it to me. Great colors!

Hi Lynn, yes, beach glass is real! I see from your address
you’re down in So. California, where I grew up combing beaches
(near Seal Beach). There’s not a lot of beach glass down there
because I think you need a lot of pebbles on the beaches to help
break up the glass and tumble it. There’s quite a bit more up
here in No. California. The beaches contain a lot more stones,
and the climate is still warm enough that people do a lot of
boating (throwing their bottles overboard to make beach glass).
Some beaches around the San Francisco and Monterey Bay area have
some glass, and there is a well known beach in my area (the North
Coast, near Mendocino) known as (surprise!) “Glass Beach”. It’s
the site of an old dump and all the “pebbles” and even the "sand"
is made up largely of tumble-polished broken glass and shards of
glazed pottery. Some of it has even found its way into Thomas
Mann’s jewelry. Of course, certain colors are people’s favorites
and are becoming rare, like the dark cobalt blues from the old
milk of magnesia bottles. Oh, while you’re in town, check out the
Mendocino Art Center. It has a great jewelry program, especially
in the summertime.

Happy beachbombing (from an ex-Bruin) -
Rene Roberts

Lynn: I’m not sure what you mean by beach glass. But if you
want chunks of glass that have a weathered look put a couple of
beer bottles in a good strong cloth bag and take out your
frustrations on it. Pull out the larger chunks, usually its the
pieces from the bottoms because they’re thicker glass, and toss
them in a tumbler for awhile. What you get varies with the
amount of time and type of grit you tumble it with. I’d be
curious to see what you get from the different jewelers tumbling
compounds available, steel shot, plastics, ceramic etc. I know
its not Mother Natures own work and its not near as nice as
walking on the beach in search of, but sometimes you gotta give
her a hand. Do you have any stained glass artists nearby? We
usually have boxes of scraps that I for one give away. From
them you can get different colors, however your limited in that
the glass is only 1/8" thick. There is a very thick glass
called pat de veare (sp.??) but it’s not as easy to find… But
hey use your imagination and a little uv glue and laminate pieces
together and then break um’ up. Or better yet break them up,
mix it, tumble it and then throw in the uv glue and create a
mishmash nugget. Sort of on the order of a mosaic opal doublet.
You can even use your torch to melt chunks down. Anneal them in
some warm vermicullit and don’t mix the glasses together unless
you buy glass with the same co-effiecient of expansion. Not all
glasses cool at the same rate. If you melt uncompatible glasses
together, they may mix OK, but when they cool stress occurs and
eventually they may crack apart. Here’s a stained glass supplier
you can check out: and a glass
bead site that maybe able to help you out: . Hope this gives you some
ideas. eslie

Orchid Digest Post:
Re: [Orchid] beach glass???From: “Leslie/John Rhoades”

Lynn: Don’t know if you have them out west , but A. C. Moore, a
very large craft chain here in the east sells bags of beach
glass. Its part of a line of side decorations for their stepping
stones craft ideas. Craft stores also sell the acid etch cream
mentioned in one of the posts. Someone also mentioned that they
tried to vibrate the pieces and it didn’t work. You don’t get
enough broad motion by simply vibrating the pieces. They have
to be tumbled strongly. From that same craft store check out the
kids rock tumbler kit Oh and if you weren’t following the
sandblasting thread, it too will give you the frosted finish your
looking for and take off any sharp edges that might remain.

From: Karl and Janet Kofoed

When I was growing up in Florida beach glass was common; now
most of the bottles that were formerly glass are plastic, and
glass is much rarer.

Janet Kofoed Leslie

From: Byzantia

Amy Faust of San Francisco, and Diane Markin of Los Angeles both
make their own beach glass. Amy has a very successful line of
jewelry based on the glass, and Diane markets a large line of
picture frames, with beach glass set into them using stained
glass techniques. I don’t know how you would get the equivalent
small amount that I assume you need, But Diane uses bottle glass,
and other types of glass that she purchases. She breaks the glass
into the general size that she requires, then puts the pieces
into a small cheaply rented cement mixer, with some water, and
coarse sand. She then runs the mixer for a day. Works like a
charm…I helped her a couple of times a few years ago, and loved
the results. Amy makes hers I believe using a similar method.
Hope that this is of some help to you.

Lisa, (Wind, sun, rain, and lots of pollen…oh, and the bobcat
had the kittens. Two, I think. They’re fast getting to the
squirrel-missing stage…as opposed to squirrel catching…that
comes next), Topanga, CA USA

From: Teresa Masters

Rene, Hmmm, when were you last in So. California. Here in San
Diego most beaches are cobble stones. Many are a form of Jade.
Most glass is fresh and jagged. They are dredging and importing
sand for the summer. Not too long ago they were dredging in San
Diego Harbor and blowing the sand here in Oceanside, good move
except for all the unexploded shells and armament they dredged
along with the sand. It seems the Navy’s housekeeping included
sweeping the shells under the rail. Teresa

From: Island Gem and Rock

Hi Lynn,

The beaches around here used to be covered in nice coloured
glass but alas no more. Noxema, Milk of Magnesia come in plastic
so no blue, green beer/pop bottles are refundable, and clear
glass is re-cyclable. Also they no longer dump garbage into the
ocean here (negative impact of the environmental movement?).

All is not lost though, you can simulate beach glass with a
hammer, a rotary tumbler (rounds the edges better than
vibratory), and some left over glass scraps (check with a stained
glass shop or recycling depot). Put the glass in a cloth bag
(heavy canvas type cloth - gold lame just doesn’t work) and give
it a whack (don’t get too carried away). Using gloves put the
pieces in the tumbler with coarse grit (even beach sand will
work - glass is soft). Tumble until you get a nice rounded
effect. The pieces will look quite frosted - you can tumble them
through the rest of the grits etc. to get a polish.

This method works well - kids love polished “gems” made this
way. This way you can control shape/size, colour, and availablity
of your material. Also roundels (round glass blobs) are available
from most stained glass supply places. Also my girlfriend is nuts
about beach glass so as soon as I finish the 75 lb. tumbler off I
will be able to supply it.

Cameron Speedie
Island Gem and Rock (And beachcomber since childhood)

From: “Nina L. Olney”

You could possible tumble it, but the real question is, could
you sell the public beach glass you made yourself miles from the

Has anyone tried just tumbling sand (with some small gravel)
with the glass pieces? That is what Mother Nature does on the


I take old bottles and cut them up with an inexpensive tile
cutter (Pascuts)I got from Home Depot (Harbor Freight sell it
also). I then fuse the glass into interesting shapes in a kiln.
I usually cut the bottle into rings so I get donuts and ovals.
Then I put the smaller pieces into a rock tumbler and I use a
fine grit for a week, then a polish for 5 days. I use a sand
blaster (240 grit aluminum oxide) to finish off the pieces.
With the larger pieces I just use the sand blaster. The surface
is little smoother than real beach glass but I think it’s more

Note From Ganoksin Staff:
Looking for a galss cutter tool for your jewelry projects? We recommend:

Hello, Emilie, I found your answer pretty easy to follow, but
how does one go about looking for a sand blaster …cost
etc?..and do you wire wrap those irregular shapes? thanks a
lot…I was actually looking for colored bottles, like reds
and cobalts, and other interesting colors, I guess I will have
research where to find the pretty colors a little bit more.
Thanks so much

For pretty glass bits in wonderful colors, contact the Blenko
Art Glass Company in Milton WVa. They are world-class glass
mfgrs., did all the stained glass in the Air Force Academy chapel
in Colorado Springs CO and robably can ship you about anything
you want in glass marbles, chips, etc. Sharon

Goodwill, Salvation Army, used stores and the like… ask
if they have any broken, colored glass items. Also, stained
glass stores or artists may have some colored glass waste, but
often the plain colors (red, blue, green, etc) are "flashed"
glass and the color is only a thin coating on one side of clear
glass backing.

John D.