Monday, June 4, 2012

My Guide To Sea Glass Hunting

Being that I live in the desert my time when I am able to hunt is a very small window.  I visit my home in RI anywhere from once every year and a half to every few years.  During this time you will find me hunting almost every day.  Depending on where you are looking sea glass can be quite hard to find.  I am from one of the most heavily visited areas in New England.  That being said finding quality pieces is like looking for needles in a haystack.  

My sea glass stash

If you live in a tourist area look for “secret spots” ones that won’t be as frequented.  While I am all for sharing and generally a very open person I keep my “secret spots” to myself.  I have searched twenty coastal regions in the matter of a week and found only one or two pieces so my spots are sacred to me.

Try to find an area with open ocean that gets big waves.  Rocky beaches hold the glass better then sandy ones that can pull the glass right back out to sea.  However you are also more apt to find many broken pieces due to them hitting against the rocks.  Old glass shops, and dumps near the ocean can be a great place to find.  Closed areas such as bays are much less likely to have quality glass.  Remember the waves and the sand are what weather and soften the edges of the glass so if the water is relatively still your glass won’t be as high quality.

Some of my rarer colors

Gather everything that doesn't have sharp edges.  Many pieces I pick up are not jewelry quality.  I do not like to alter the glass.  Only 5% of the glass I find is acceptable for use in my jewelry.  However I hold onto all of it.  You can use the lower quality pieces for mosaics or other projects.  You can also sell it to other artists.

Hunting really is an art form.  Many places you would think would be great for hunting turn up nothing.  Get used to spending many hours looking and not finding.  Glass hunting has become quite popular so older pieces are much more difficult to find.  But it makes it that much more exciting when you find a piece.

Some of my more common jewelry quality pieces

Watch the tides come in and out.  The wetness from the water can reveal the sparkle of glass causing it to stand out among the rocks.  

Once home try to identify your glass using a guide.  Glass can be much like antiques.  Red, yellow and orange are hardest to find.  Next turquoise, teal, aqua, cobalt, black (which is usually very dark green or brown when held to the light), purple and pink.  Brown, green and white are easiest to find.  However different shades are harder to find then others.

Black glass can be hard to find because it looks just like stone amongst other rocks.  It can date all the way back to the 1600's!  Since one of it's many uses was in preservation some pieces can be quite thick.

Black glass - see how you can see the side facing the light has a green tint and the other has amber?  Without light shining through these pieces look jet black.

On occasion you might be lucky enough to find other goodies like pottery, china, or marbles.  I never buy sea glass.  For me the hunt is part of the art.  It is important to me to be able to say to the client, " I personally found this piece and there is a story to go along with it."  I can also guarantee that it is not imitation glass and is indeed the real thing.  I believe my pieces carry my energy, the excitement of finding the piece as well as my love for my home and nature. 

My coveted sea glass marble


  1. This is such an interesting post! Until VERY recently I thought that sea glass was formed when lightning struck sand, lol. Can we say, Moron? My boyfriend kindly informed me of the actual origin of sea glass. You have an impressive collection!

  2. These pieces are beautiful! Thanks for sharing this information. I really enjoyed reading the post... and learned a few things :)

  3. Thank you Tiffany. I read a few how to hunts during my searching trips and found that largely they were inaccurate. Many of the tips given just didn't pan out, so it may also depend on where geographically you are looking. I can only vouch for New England. At least so far. I hope to have more chances for searching in other places.

  4. That was so interesting for me! I live close to several awesome sand beaches, so sea glass is unavailable to me. But I love the way you speak about the process!

  5. I'm sure it is still out there Kanelstrand. It just wasn't easy for me to find. But many, MANY people visit the beaches where I am from so there is lots of competition. You should try!

  6. Sea glass hunting sounds wonderful! Your jewelry is beautiful.

  7. I miss it like crazy. I'm ready to get my hunt on! Thank you for the kind words.

  8. I love sea glass, and I am SO JEALOUS of your beautiful collection!!!
    That marble is TO DIE FOR!

  9. I want to follow you, but I can't see your followers link. It might be a momentary glitch...I'll be back :)

  10. Maureen it may have been a glitch. I am noticing that I just got a notice that someone wanted to follow me and I had to ok it. I have never seen that before. It should be right below my etsy mini and right above my blog archive. That little marble is probably my favorite piece. I squealed like a little girl when I found it!

  11. Oh and I love your Frank cuff links. Loooove DD!

  12. Everyone looks a beauty to me, I love the ocean and all that it gives up.

  13. What a great article! Beautiful pics.

  14. I am always jealous on how much find :)
    I'm really going to have to try and my own secret beaches.
    I may start throwing a few Marbles in the sea, one some one will find it and htinks it's beautiful hopefully <3 (or is that littering lol)

  15. LOL Dotty. Well I was just home for about a month and I found very, VERY little. And none in my secret spots, with the exception of the Charlize Theron story I wrote about earlier. I was lucky enough to have some hurricanes off the coast and with the end of the season no more beach sweepers. But pickings were slim at best!

  16. I agree - fantastic and interesting post. Love the photos you posted of some of your finds;)

  17. Thank You for advocating your cause! Your story and deep love for "sea glass" and your connection with the ocean area is felt. I miss my rock and shell collection from our Pacifc Ocean beach area. Peace & Health, Babe

    1. Thanks Babe! I am due for a hunt soon and will be searching both the west and east coast shores in the next month. Can't wait!!

  18. You're not only a very talented designer and photographer, but an awesome writer as well. I was delighted to read this.

    I loved sea glass hunting as a child. Sadly, now I do not have a chance, but often remember the little town at the Black Sea where my great grandparents lived. Thank you.


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