Seaglass

I thought I would share a little about seaglass – which is what I have been up to since leaving the boat in July. Seaglass is broken glass that has been in the ocean for a long time rolling around in the rocks eventually washing up looking like a big honkin’ jewel. Here is Andrew holding some treasures, still wet from picking them up off the beach.

A handful of seaglass jewels

I have read it takes about 30 years for the ocean to break down pieces of broken glass into a smooth seaglass nugget. The variables needed to align for a beautiful piece of seaglass to be found on the beach are totally up to chance and nature, and completely out of our hands. That’s what makes seaglass so rad! Seaglass is becoming a scarce treasure because we no longer dump our trash into the ocean (at least not as obviously) and because plastics have replaced a lot of what used to be made of glass there is just less of it out there. The best beaches to find glass are old dump locations at the oceans edge and seaglass huntresses know this, and go there to collect the goods. Fortunately the movement of the beach keeps things in check and I think we will continue to find glass for a long time as different pockets of gravel roll up to the surface, but it’s clear that eventually it will be gone.

Hunting for glass treasures on Washington’s coast, a single clear piece in the rocks

I don’t pick up just any piece. I’ll leave it on the beach or throw it back in the surf it doesn’t have the qualities I’m looking for. Most seaglass nerds agree on the qualities of a good piece of glass: nuggety-ness and color. What I mean by nuggety-ness is it’s stone-like quality: super worn and tumbled not resembling it’s once sharp broken glass beginnings. Frosted is often a favored term to describe genuine seaglass and a favorite quality that seems seaglass has all to it’s own. Then there is the most hyped criteria, which is glass color.

rare seaglass colors

This little collection is of the most rare colors of glass – I have been very lucky to find each of these pieces. Actually, I can still remember exactly where I found each of these. Let’s see the teal, orange and purple all came from the same beach in El Salvador (gold mine!). The yellow and pink are from the same beach in Washington State, the bright aqua is from a different beach in El Salvador and the gray and red are from two different beaches in California.

Glass color is the main variable for ranking a piece of seaglass rare-ness and value. Glass could come from anything – bottles, tablewear, light fixtures, art, etc. and many colors were not commonly made, and even less tossed into the sea, so imagine the luck of finding some of these bits of old trash that have been in the ocean for years and then end up washed at your feet 50 years later looking like gems.

Clear glass is the most common and personally I love a good worn down piece of clear glass but most seaglass folks turn up their noses to them. When I find a clear with an exceptionally awesome shape, there is nothin’ like it. But it would be considered bottom of the pot for rare-ness, next to brown and kelly green (beer bottles). Your basic seaglass hunt, would probably get you a nice little collection of greens, brown and clear and maybe a few aquas. Aqua and light blues fall in after those three and are favorites for their sea-foam-like, ocean colors. Then there are the cobalt and cornflower blues falling in behind those. Purples are pretty rare, along with teals, pinks, yellows and grays. Very hard to find actually, any of those colors. And last but not least, orange and red are the highest prized colors of seaglass. They are super rare and a good piece could sell for $100 right off the beach.

This is my collection from El Salvador, and what inspired me to get a little more serious about making jewelry from the treasures. Check out that electric blue – so sick!

I have been collecting seaglass for years but my love for glass was taken to the next level after an insane day of collecting that turned my casual beach-combing into full-on expeditions. My fascination for seaglass and the enjoyment I get from collecting it lead me to my latest jewelry project: Salty Bird Seaglass. Turning old trash, altered by nature into something wearable that is beautiful and mysterious!

Check out my hand-made treasures, currently for sale on Etsy: Salty Bird Seaglass

Super rare, special red seaglass necklace – Sold!

Once my hunting for glass became a passion, I met a lot of others out on the beach doing the same. Usually it was the lowest tide of the day at a special beach and I would see the same people over and over again. The other seaglass huntresses were also out there at the crack of dawn, bent over digging or slowly walking or sometimes chasing the receding swells to see what would get uncovered. A seaglass huntress usually has a special carrying bag, bulging pockets, knows the phase of the moon, dreams about rare colors, comes after a storm, may have a snorkel and a headlamp and knows exactly what you are doing. I found out quickly you can’t just roll up any old day and find these nuggets nestled in the sand – you have to know when and where to find the best stuff, but the best part is that you can always get lucky!

sea pottery ceramic shards

This is sea-pottery. Broken ceramics and china that have turned awesome!


I recently posted this, but am sharing it again of some insane blue marbles. I found tons of marbles in El Salvador, after finding very few in the US. The children playing marbles by the sea is my guess as to why there are so many.

seaglass

Some of my old favorites (see some of these among my jewelry for sale)

Since becoming a highly sought after treasure, those looking to capitalize on the latest craze have tried to replicate it through tumbling and polishing, but fortunately, no one can do it! The sea is the only true tumbler and I, like most avid hunters can tell a genuine piece from a fake piece pretty easily. So, that leaves the beach combers to rely on the chance of history and the process of nature to churn up the special shards of seaglass. Making the enjoyment of beach-combing for glass, a never-ending treasure hunt!

Some other pieces made into jewelry

I have sought out specific beaches, tides, storms and even used google earth and the history of sea dumps to try and find good hunting beaches but it always seems I have come upon them by chance. The best beach I have ever hunted was in El Salvador (where a lot of these nuggets featured came from) and no one else was on the beach hunting it down. There are un-touched beaches all over the world still holding tons of colored seaglass… it might just take a little sailing adventure to find them!

The mystery, beauty and history of seaglass is just so fascinating that as my collection grew I wanted to share it with others. Found with love and made with love get yourself a one-of-kind, timeless piece of jewelry at etsy.com/shop/saltybirdseaglass. Or, if you are in Olympia, stop by AMC Interiors @ Home/Clinton Music House located at 146 Plymouth Street to see my jewelry in person!

Wearing an awesome blue nugget. Rings coming soon…

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Comments
9 Responses to “Seaglass”
  1. James Hart says:

    um this is awesome. Lauren rocks that necklace you guys made together pretty much 24/7

    Seaglass – The More You Know!

  2. Laurel says:

    Gorgeous and educational post! My dad and I were chatting about you and he said to check out Grammy’s beach. I guess it was an old dump and there is a ton of seaglass there. Not sure how accurate this suggestion is, but maybe worth checking out while you are in town?

    • followthearc says:

      Thanks Laurel! Grammy’s beach is where my seaglass hunting started. I remember collecting bins full as a kid to take to the recycle! I was over there the other day rummaging around and found a few cool shards of pottery, but unfortunately there is not enough wave action there for the glass to wear down, so there are some cool colors, but it’s all in the form of slightly frosted broken glass.

  3. Joaquin says:

    Alucinante Julie!, wow… Que colores!!!.
    I think the ocean does the best job making rare sculptures… then for you to make them wearable… Love your work! much Love to both of you! hope to meet up soon!

  4. Fabienne Nitopi says:

    Thanks for the educational post Jules! Your jewelry and passion for sea glass is just beautiful! When I was in Thailand I tried to find some pieces for you, but I guess I just don’t have the right touch or dedication. I miss you and love you!

  5. Jeremy and Jessica says:

    Hey Friends…we’ve settled in Santa Cruz, CA. for the time being…drop a line if you are ever in the area…lots of surf to be had just a couple of blocks away 🙂

    GarlicLove.us@gmail.com

  6. Hi there!
    I am also a sea glass collector who stumbled across your blog. I love it and your creations! I’m from Prince Edward Island, Canada (where my sea glass obsession began..the island has a TON of great spots to hunt!) My husband and I are headed to El Salvador for a vacation in a few weeks and I’m so excited to read of your success there! Can you tell me which beaches you visited so I can try my hand as well?
    Thanks so much!
    Jennifer
    jennifer@kix106online.com

  7. Lori Singmasgter says:

    Nice work Julie! I am going to buy a necklace from you…love it…xo Lori

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