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Sea glass


#1

Would anyone have any idea how to make “sea glass” in a vibratory
tumbler? Sea glass is that wonderfully tumbled and frosted bits of
glass that can be found on some ocean beaches. I’m wondering what
abrasives would be used and, also, which types of glass would work
best. Could I just break up an old mayonnaise jar and tumble that?
True sea glass seems to be just from various broken bottles and jars
although I have seen primarily blue or green glass. Is it just that
blue or green glass would hold up better to the tumbling action of
the waves better than some other colors or even clear? Any thoughts
on this topic would be welcome. Thanks. dennis


#2

I don’t have a tumbler, but I have made sea glass or beach glass with
a foredom hand tool. This is of course no good if you need quantity,
but it is fun to do because you can carve the shape of the glass. You
can also carve a design in the back of the glass and leave the front
clear. I made a bunch of hearts this way.

I think most beach glass is actually old coke bottles - the glass
used to be quite thick. I have purchased some mineral waters in cobalt
blue glass, which is a pretty color, but I would check out the exotic
drink section of a local grocery store to see what kinds of bottles
are available.

Also, if you need quanitity, how 'bout a recycler? Good luck, beach
glass is really fun and versatile and looks great with faceted stones.

mary barker


#3

You may want to check the Orchid Archives on this one. I remember a
rather long thread about this very topic! Good Luck!
–Vicki Embrey


#4

Hi Paula, I have often wondered if this “sea glass” is the off cuts
from a stained glass shop. Susan Chastain


#5

Hi, As a lapsed surfer/beach bum I can tell you that the blue glass
is noxema jars (sunburn!) And the green is Heinekin or Rolling Rock
etc. It used to be 7-Up But everything is plastic these days. Walking
the beach you find alot of tampon applicators (beach whistles) but I
hav’nt figured a way to incorporate them into my jewelry just yet.
Found objects can be interesting but why would you want to tumble
mayonaise jar glass when there are so many beautiful
rocks, shell, etc.?? Ed


#6

Hi Dennis, there is a beach glass thread in the archives; I think it
was a little over a year ago. Many of your questions are answered
there. Beach glass comes in all colors; it just depends on what the
boaters happen to toss overboard in that area. On the California coast
the most common colors are green (wine bottles), amber (beer bottles)
and clear (old coke and soft drink bottles). The composition of bottle
glass is basically the same, except that different metal oxides are
used to get the various colors. Rene Roberts


#7

Hi Dennis, In years past I made a lot of “Desert Glass” jewelry from
old sun-colored purple glass picked up in the desert. This was
before vibratory tumblers so was done with rotary equipment but don’t
see why it would not work similarly. First a word of caution. If
you cut glass with a trim saw, be sure to wear eye protection.
Today’s diamond band saws don’t have the same problem of glass
splinters.

My method: Preform. (I wanted pairs or multiple similar shapes for
bracelets and earrings.) Necks of bottles make various size circles.
Corners and neck bases make interesting shapes. Tumble in coarse grit
as you would agate but for a much shorter time. Follow up with 600
grit. (Not too long!) You are through. Sort by size and shape. You
can spot polish with your flex shaft if you want to get creative.

You have reminded me that I still have a number of sets which I
should dig out and do something with!

Have fun.
Roy-


#8

Dennis If you plan to produce “sea glass” in a vibrating tumbler, I
would recommend very close monitoring of the load. Glass is much
softer than most stones and will rapidly wear away. True beach glass
is wave tumbled over silica (sand). Silicon carbide grit is much
harder than sand.

As to the absence of clear glass, I have been to one of the most
prolific sea glass beaches just outside of Fort Bragg, California.
The good folks of Fort Bragg put their initial city dump near the
beach. The sea claimed part of the dump and began producing sea
glass. I found a great deal of clear glass, now white from abrasion.
There used to be a lot more colored glass in bottles, but those days
are gone.

Have fun.
John McLaughlin
Glendale, Arizona
@John_McLaughlin


#9

dennis - as a waterfront florida native ‘beach glass’ has always been
a treasure to find walking along the sand. it seems natural that the
best glass shard shape to use is flat - or slightly curved; the best
abrasive is probably – are you ready?? tada – SAND! builders’ sand
with its larger grains should work well. anything bigger will gouge
out chips & pit the surface. you’re not going to get that naturally
frosted finish that was attained by sand if you use stainless shot -
if you do you’ll wind up looking at pitted pieces & saying 'shot!'
ive


#10
 Would anyone have any idea how to make "sea glass" in a vibratory 
  tumbler? 

G’day Paula & Dennis; Make ‘sea glass’ in a similar way to how the
sea does it.

Could I just break up an old mayonnaise jar and tumble that? 

Why not? Any kind of glass would get frosted by the action of being
tumbled with sand on a beach, and the same applies to a vibro job.
Any colour glass will work. Even glass marbles. Simply put small pieces
of broken glass into a small plastic jar; pour in some coarse, sharp
sand, add a little water - but cover it reasonably well. Screw the
top of the jar tightly, fasten to the vibro platform (rubber bands?)
make sure the vibration as as strong as you can get, and off you go
and have a couple of beers, or a pink gin or whatever takes your
fancy. (have a tot of rum for me) Return in an hour or perhaps two,
open the jar, separate the nicely frosted glass from the sand, and
Bob’s yer Uncle. – John Burgess


#11

John mentioned that true sea glass is “tumbled” over ocean sand.
Would it be possible to tumble glass in one’s tumbler using beach
sand (or any fine grained sand) and get similar results? Also, what
about cutting pieces of coloured stained glass with a regular glass
cutter, and tumbling the pieces? Just wondering. Alma.


#12

Dear Dennis As a long time colector of sea or beach glass what seems
to be the main type to suvive is the various beverage bottles ( beer
soda ect. ) and the bottoms of those are what seem to be the most
prevalent …so as a round about answeer to your question I would say
use the bottoms of beer bottles …also their is a thread on this
subject in the archives …HTH Ron


#13

Maybe I have missed something here, but I don’t seem to have noticed
anyone pointing out the great difference between vibratory and rotary
tumbling.Vibratory tumblers do NOT give the same results as naturally
tumbled beach glass. You cannot get the nicely contoured shapes that
can be achieved with a rotary tumbler. Yes, you will slightly round
off the edges, but in the rotary tumbler you will get much more
pleasing contouring. If, for example, you use a crusher or hammer to
break up agate for tumbling, you will get basically the identical
shape you started with when using the vibratory tumbler, On the other
hand, if you use a rotary tumbler loaded with angular pieces you will
wind up with curvilinear shapes. Actually, if you really think about
it, vibratory “tumblers” really do not tumble…they rotate and
vibrate in a floating manner, but the contents never “tumble”. When I
"tumble" I always start with a rotary device for the initial shaping
phase and then transfer to the vibratory. Things are never as simple
as we would like them to be ! Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, CA.


#14
    Would anyone have any idea how to make "sea glass" in a
vibratory tumbler?  

tumble them jjust as if they were soft stones as they sort of are.
you want color, use colored glass. start with a finer carbide than
usual because they are soft. and keep a close eye on them. should
work. gregor


#15
    As to the absence of clear glass, I have been to one of the
most prolific sea glass beaches just outside of Fort Bragg,
California. The good folks of Fort Bragg put their initial city dump
near the beach.  The sea claimed part of the dump and began
producing sea glass.  I found a great deal of clear glass, now white
from abrasion. There used to be a lot more colored glass in bottles,
but those days are gone. 

Indeed! If you get a chance to go to Glass Beach, it’s entirely
worth it. I grew up just a few miles away and used to find all colors
of glass and other treasures there. Clear, brown, green, blue,
purple, and even some red glass. I don’t go there very often these
days, but it’s definitely worth a trip if you’re ever in the area.

-Sarinda (aka Spider)
http://www.spiderchain.com


#16

There is an interesting process I use sometimes making a glass bead
that I want to look very old and frosted. The bead is made in the
usual way then cooled until it starts to strike then rolled in a bowl
containing common baking soda. This produces fumes which should not be
breathed. Then it is reheated just to the point where the soda boils
and bubbles the surface into an irregular roughness which can be
varied depending upon how rugged looking I want it. Then it is cooled
and annealed in the usual way.

An experianced lampworker could do this with broken bottle glass as
well but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who doesn’t know safe
lampworking technique. Geo.


#17

Tumble with sand! I know two of the women that make this stuff to
incoporate into their jewelry, and picture frames, and this is how
they do it.

Lisa, ( Back from BMAC, and ACC Alternative…aaaaakkkk!!! Too much
time indoors), Topanga, CA USA


#18
John mentioned that true sea glass is "tumbled" over ocean sand.
Would it be possible to tumble glass in one's tumbler using beach
sand (or any fine grained sand)  and get similar results?  Also, what
about cutting pieces of coloured stained glass with a regular glass
cutter, and tumbling the pieces?  

Well, why not? Same principle. But coarse carborundum would be
faster. A covering of water with perhaps a small pinch of non sudsing
washing machine powder might help too. Cheers,

John Burgess


#19

Whatever you do, don’t use a vibratory machine to do this job using
sand and water as your cutting media… I tried this one time and
the sand basically turned to Sludge and would not move in the
vibratory machine… this is a powerful machine …1 hp + and it would
not work!!! I believe the correct machine to use would be a tumbler.

Daniel Grandi
http://www.racecarjewelry.com