Monday, February 20, 2017

Making Sea Glass Jewelry

Sea glass, sometimes called beach glass, is the name given to jewel-like shards of broken glass that have been naturally weathered in the ocean. It is found along the beach, often scattered among seashells and other ocean treasures that have been washed ashore. Sea glass is most often found during low tide. Common colors of sea glass include varying shades of green, blue, brown, amber, white and clear. Rarer colors include shades of red, orange and purple. What makes sea glass unique and desirable for use in jewelry is its worn, weathered finish caused by years of exposure to salt water, sand, and its movement in the ocean. 

Jewelry created from sea glass has an almost mystical allure to it. It's weathered, frosty appearance adds a lovely softness to its original hue, giving the wearer a soothing feeling not unlike the relaxing feelings we experience when we visit the ocean. Sea glass is mysterious. The origins of its past life are always a mystery. Sea glass is also very unique in the fact that it is something that originated as man made, but was reclaimed by nature and changed by nature.

If you do not live near a beach or do not have access to finding your own sea glass, you can create your own faux sea glass quite easily by following the instructions below. Handcrafted sea glass, if tumbled for a long enough period of time, is nearly indistinguishable from ocean-made sea glass. 

Supplies needed: safety glasses, leather work gloves, hammer, an old pillowcase, glass shards, grozer pliers, grinding stone (optional), rock tumbler, water.


1. Wear safety glasses and thick leather work gloves for protection.

2. Collect glass shards from broken glass bottles (you can also use stained glass scraps). Break your own shards by placing the glass to be broken inside of an old pillow case and lightly tap with hammer until desired size is achieved. When you are finished with this step be sure to discard the pillowcase!

3. Using grozer pliers (available from stained glass suppliers) carefully remove any sharp points and edges from the glass shards. Sharp points and edges may also be ground down with a grinding stone (also available from a stained glass supplier) or an electric stained glass grinder. Remember to wear your leather work gloves and be extra careful when working with glass so that you do not cut yourself!

4. Place glass shards into a rock tumbler with water (following the rock tumbler manufacturer's directions for correct amounts of water). Tumble the shards until they reach the desired appearance. Depending on the finish you desire, this may take a few days of tumbling or longer than a  week.

The simplest way to make jewelry with beach glass is to either wrap it with wire (available from a jewelry supply catalog such as Rio Grande) or to drill a small hole into the glass so that it may be strung or used as a bead. A good tool for drilling is a flex shaft with a diamond bit. Novices may find success by using a simple Dremel tool. 

In either case it is most important to remember to wear safety glasses when working, and to keep your glass cool while drilling. The speed of the drill will heat the glass and you want to keep the glass cool so you do not burn yourself or shatter the glass. One way to keep your project cool is to drill on top of a wet washcloth. Apply gentle pressure when drilling so you do not break the glass or your drill bit. 

One way to achieve a successful hole is to drill the glass half way through, rinse it with water to remove accumulated residue from the glass, flip the piece over, and then complete the hole from the other side. This method will help prevent breakage. Once the hole is drilled you can gently smooth any sharp edges around the hole by using a bead reamer. This will prevent your threading material from becoming frayed due to a sharp edge.

You now have a beautiful sea glass component to use in your jewelry design! Here are some design ideas for sea glass: string with shells or pearls for an ocean themed necklace. Use an unusual single sea glass shard as an eye-catching pendant simply strung on a linen or leather cord. Use larger sea glass shards for pendants and smaller shards for earrings and bracelets. Combine sea glass shards with color coordinating semiprecious gems. Some winning combinations include; green
 sea glass with amazonite and pearls, white or clear sea glass with amethyst or rose quartz, blue sea glass with quartz crystals or lapis lazuli.

Have a great week!

My broken china jewelry is always available for purchase at

copyright ©Laura Beth Love 2017