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|About Sea Glass
Sea glass is a
beautiful example of recycling by Nature. A bottle; or too many
bottles in many cases, tossed into the water breaks in the surf,
and years later its shards have transformed into beautiful gems
worthy of becoming part of a coveted piece of jewelry.
Collecting on the Chesapeake, and in Bermuda below
Sea glass forms partially as the result of glass
rolling in sandy surf, but also because of a chemical reaction
of the glass with salt water. The longer the glass is in the
water, and becomes hydrated, the more of a patina, or "frost" it
develops as a result of the lime and soda elements leaching out.
Because a unique chemical transformation takes place, beach
glass may one day achieve gemstone status. The patina sparkles
like tiny diamonds in the light, one of the hallmarks of genuine
sea glass; a trait that has yet to be achieved by simply
tumbling or acid washing of glass commercially.
glass can be found in a multitude of colors. The most common
colors found today are clear, brown, and kelly green, the color
of many beer bottles.
Uncommon colors tend be older glass from the sixties and beyond.
One look and you can recognize that it is not the color scheme
used commercially today. The uncommon colors encountered most
are the soft green, amber, forest green, and lime green, though
these too, are becoming harder to find. The glass pieces with a
soft green shade that looks so ethereal were most commonly turn
of the century Coca-Cola bottles.
Some beaches; many in the Caribbean, harbor extremely old glass
shards from rum bottles up to 300 years old. Most of these are
the lime green, forest green and brown glass shades that have
darkened in the sun to the point that they appear black.
rare colors are the blues and aqua tones that are truly a
delight to the eyes. True aqua, periwinkle, teal, and cobalt
blue shades originated as medicine bottles and home glassware.
The rarest sea glass colors are the grays, yellows and
lavenders. The "champagne" to purple colored sea glass is often
extremely old clear glass made circa WW1. Magnesium used as an
ingredient is glassmaking at that time caused the glass to
develop a purple color after long term exposure to the UV rays
of the sun.
The absolute rarest sea glass find is orange or red, the prize
of a lifetime for sea glass collectors. The oldest of these
specimens originated from shipwrecked stained glass panels en
route to the new world from Europe, and the most recent from old
automobile blinkers and lights.
sea glass has wavy irregular shapes as if it had been melted.
The most likely cause for this formation is that it was
"campfire glass"; bottles thrown into trash burning pits and
bonfires by soldiers, workers, or even pirates many years ago.
This glass has a very unusual look, though it is hard to set in
silver due to its baroque edges. It often has grains of sand or
sea plants imbedded in it. Occasionally, pieces are bi-colored,
from two separate glass shards fusing together. Very nice
specimens similar to these can be found in areas where glass
companies used to dump unused molten glass into the sea every
evening. The "end of day" glass patterns are spectacular, and
the edges are very smooth and unusual.
piece of sea glass undoubtedly has stories to it. Was the piece
someone's pop bottle in the sixties, or was it part of a sea
captain's liquor bottle hundreds of years ago? Perhaps some of
that old Chesapeake sea glass came blasting out of a local
cannon during the Battle of 1812. Maybe a few fragments of
Caribbean sea glass carry the energy of pirates gathered around
a fire, reveling into the night. Then there's sea pottery,
shards of broken china worn smooth by the sea. Who owned it? Was
a teacup tossed purposely into the waves by a haughty
aristocrat, or lost in a shipwreck? We can only speculate, but
isn't that fun!
My Dad, Richard, scans
the Atlantic shoreline.
My Mom, Ruth, on the Chesapeake