Sea glass is a material that has a transparent nature that you can enhance by cleaning and polishing. Also, it can take on a level of quality that you can use for jewelry. So, it is best to do things properly. Here are two ways to polish sea glass for jewelry:
1. Use soapy water and a gem tumbler.
- Put dish soap into a large bowl of water and place your sea glass into the bowl. Then, allow it to soak for one to two hours.
- Using a toothbrush, you will scrub the sea glass in soapy water. It is best to make sure that you also clean inside the crevices that have dirt build-up.
- Place your sea glass in a colander, and run cold water over it until you wash away the soap. Then, remove the sea glass from the colander and place the sea glass on a clean towel to dry.
- Next, place your sea glass into a gem tumbler and add a polishing grit. Also, it is best to add an equal part of sugar or cornmeal to serve as a cushion. This cushion will be a protective layer between your sea glass and the grit.
- Finally, turn the tumbler on and check the progress once every twelve hours. Turn the tumbler off once the sea glass reaches your desired polish.
2. Use oil and a clean cloth.
- Add a tiny drop of vegetable or baby oil onto a small piece of J-cloth or paper towel.
- Next, rub the oil all over your sea glass until you remove all salt. Note that this step may be quick, so be careful not to overdo it.
- Dry your sea glass using a larger piece of J-cloth or a clean towel. Finally, let it sit for about ten minutes or until you see all the sea glass the oil.
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What is sea glass?
Worn by waves and recycled by the sea, sea glass is a product of man and nature. Sea glass is chemically and physically weathered glass found on beaches. Also, it is a smooth, frosted piece of glass formed by the constant tumbling action of waves.
Beach Glass vs. Sea Glass
Some people interchangeably use “sea glass” and “beach glass,” but they are entirely different. Unlike sea glass, beach glass is from either freshwater or saltwater sources. So, while all sea glass is beach glass, not all beach glass is sea glass.
The differences are sometimes challenging to recognize unless you examine each glass type. For example, Beach glass usually looks less weathered and may have some shiny spots. Also, it typically has a less frosted appearance and a different pH balance.
How is sea glass made?
Manufacturers and many people usually toss their garbage into large bodies of water. Sea glass comes from those materials. It can form from shards of broken glass, clear plates, bottles, and more.
Discarded large glass pieces shatter, tumble and toss around the sea because of the waves. Also, the saltwater and friction from the waves weather these materials. So, as a result, these scrap materials get a glassy, unique appearance and become “sea glass.”
Note that sea glass can come in various colors because they come from different materials. But, because they have a unique frosted appearance, they never look shiny. Also, sea glass has no sharp edges unless something or someone broke it.
How long does it take to make sea glass?
Sea glass formation can take from five to thirty years, depending on the amount of wave action. In some cases, it can also take up to fifty years if there is zero to minimal wave action.
Note that physical and chemical weathering is slow, which often needs repetition and force. It is why it can take so long to transform scrap materials into beautiful sea glass. So, we can say that time is the most vital factor for sea glass to get its appearance.
Why is sea glass hard to find?
Compared to previous years, sea glass is getting more challenging to find for various reasons. One positive reason is that there is less dumping of glass in the oceans. Note that less trash means less glass.
Also, manufacturers replaced the glass with plastic, which cannot turn into sea glass. So, even with tons of trash in bodies of water, plastic still does not break down the same way.
On top of these two, more people are now searching for sea glass along shores and banks. So, chances are, someone already got the sea glass pieces before you.
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How to make sea glass jewelry?
Creating jewelry from sea glass can be a long process, but it is worth it! But, it begins with the acquisition, cleaning, and sorting methods. Follow this guide to know how to make sea glass jewelry:
Collect your sea glass.
First, you will soak your collected sea glass pieces in warm water with a bit of dish detergent. Then, rinse the pieces and dry them before examining for any flaws and chips. Note that it is best to use sea glass without any clear defects so you can create quality jewelry.
It is also best to use sea glass pieces on jewelry exactly how you found them on the beach. So, it would be best to check for imperfections that can ruin your jewelry design.
Sort your sea glass.
After making sure that you only gather the best pieces, you will now sort your sea glass. You can sort them by color, size, and shape to make assembling easier for you. Also, you can arrange them by the jewelry pieces you want to make, such as:
- Small sea glass for earrings
- Sea glass for drilling
- Sea glass for wire wrapping
- Sea glass for bezel setting
Note that sorting and organizing your sea glass can be time-consuming. But, doing so will help you keep track of what you have and what you can do with the sea glass. So, a successful jewelry artist needs to do this step correctly.
Design your jewelry piece.
As I mentioned, you can sort your sea glass according to the pieces you want to make. So, your goal is to determine the best jewelry to create using each type of sea glass. Also, it is best to make designs that will not compromise your material’s appearance and integrity.
Note that each type of sea glass you have should inspire your designs. But, specific shapes and colors are may or may not work for all your designs. So, it is best to put many combinations together and choose the best among them.
It may also help if you have other people observing your work. They can help point out details that you may overlook, which ultimately enables you to improve your designs.
It is also essential to know what techniques you want to use for the sea glass. You need to present your jewelry in a pleasing, attractive design that can last long. But, to ensure their integrity, you will what to do with each piece.
You can drill some sea glass and use wire wraps to attach them as pendants or charms. But, some types are too valuable or large to drill. So, instead, you can choose to bezel set to reduce the risk of ruining their value forever.
Assemble your jewelry.
The bezel setting is a fairly straightforward process. It should not be as challenging as drilling your sea glass. So, I will share the steps you can follow to assemble drilled sea glass jewelry:
- Mark your sea glass with a marker where you want to place the hole.
- Set up a water tray by placing a piece of wood into a tray. Then, place your sea glass on top and submerge it in water.
- Before you start drilling, it is best to make sure that your working area is free from clutter. Also, it would help to wear an apron and a sleeved top for your safety.
- Start your drill on its slowest speed setting while keeping your sea glass in place. You could also use a clamp or vice to hold your glass. Then, angle your drill at roughly 45 degrees and make a small cut on your sea glass.
- Slowly move your drill into a vertical position and continue drilling using the slowest setting. Make sure to let the drill do the work to prevent ruining your sea glass.
- Occasionally move your drill up and down as you drill to help the water flow. Doing so will help you wash away any debris and keep the drill and glass cool.
As I mentioned, it is best to drill your sea glass using the slowest speed setting. Also, it would help if you dot apply too much pressure. These two things can break your sea glass, so it is best to avoid them.
There are many ways to finish your jewelry according to your design and preferences. You can carve it into a shape, cut it, or wrap it with wire. But, whatever you do next, make sure to be careful with your glass.
Tips to Care for Your Sea Glass Jewelry:
Sea glass jewelry pieces have a more frosted than shiny look. But, it is still best if you try to care for them to keep them in good condition. Here are some tips for caring for your sea glass jewelry:
- Occasionally wash your pieces with water and mild liquid detergent.
- Store your sea glass jewelry properly in a closed container. Note that cool, dry places are best for jewelry storage. So, it is best to store them properly to increase their longevity.
- Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals like cleaners, bleach, and other substances.
- As I mentioned, it is best to avoid harsh chemicals like chlorine. So, it is best not to wear your sea glass jewelry in the pool.
- Avoid wearing your sea glass jewelry when you spray perfumes and apply lotions. These chemicals can also ruin your jewelry’s integrity.