Friday, August 10, 2012

Man Made Seaglass Ugh How Could You?

Today I am going to post about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind.  The man made versus genuine sea glass issue and a nasty message I received from another “genuine sea glass” seller. I carry both in my shop and the reasons are many fold.  Being that honesty and integrity are paramount to me I believe it a subject that must be addressed.  I can personally pick out man made glass immediately but many shoppers can't and I have seen shop after shop that do not note anywhere in the listing that the piece is man made.  No two ways about it I feel that is deceptive.  Period.

In my shop I state in the very first one or two lines "man made glass".  I again list it in the materials.  Calling it "seaglass" or "beachglass" is actually a trademarked name by the companies that produce it and therefor correct.  Not only that someone searching for man made glass of this type is indeed looking for a seaglass product.  However I find it important to let the customer know that it is indeed man made.  I get many inquiries about it and some buy and some don't.  

Sea glass in and of itself is becoming increasing rare.  Most sea glass was born from dumps and dumping off boats and the like.  This is now illegal in most parts so finding sea glass is more rare than in days past.  Certain types of glass were from medicine bottles, dishware etc. from hundreds of years ago.  Once these items are exhausted they simply cease to exist.  

The mere thought of man made glass can make many genuine collectors cringe. That being said sea glass collecting is serious business.  A tiny piece of red or orange glass can be like finding a diamond.  An itty piece of jewelry with one of these colors can range into the hundreds.  

The reasons I choose to use some man made pieces are many.  Rarity of colors is a big one.  There simply is no possible way no matter how many days I searched that I would be able to be able to find this many pieces of orange glass.  In the rare case that I did it would cost thousands.  Between the amount of time it would take to collect and the rarity of it the price would be astronomical!

Second reason is shape.  Many shapes simply do not occur in nature.  Even if you were able to create it you have destroyed the integrity of the piece by severely altering it.  Teardrops, rondelles, squares etc. are an extremely rare occurrence and the likeliness of finding matching pieces is slim to none. 

Uniform nuggets of this size would take literally years to find.  Blue again is becoming one of the rarer colors.  Very unlikely even if you found this much blue glass it would not be all the same color.  Even if you found more common pieces like green, white or brown it would take a very long time.  Finding big chunks like this usually doesn't happen.  Sometimes you can find them from old bottle stoppers but usually sea glass is thin from bottles, dishware etc.


Certainly it wouldn't be the cost of the orange but still a hefty price tag.  Some sellers of genuine glass actually buy it from sea glass sellers so they aren't out there foraging for weeks, months and years to find pieces.  For me I feel it's part of my art.  On a rare occasion friends or family will gift me pieces but even then THEY have labored to find those gems and they were not simply bought from another seller.  And I disclose even that in my listings along with where the piece was found.

You simply wouldn't be able to recreate these type of items and as someone who lives solely on the income of my shop having items that people desire that you can never remake doesn't bode well for business.

My tusk necklaces simply don't occur in nature that I have found.  I've never found a tusk shape.  If you could find them judging from my time searching oh it might take you about 50 years of searching daily to create a necklace.  A rare one?  Not even possible.

So does that mean that I simply string together the pieces from a prestrung line of glass and voila?  Hardly.  Each bracelet and necklace is laid out and created over about an hours time.  Many pieces that I feel are not quality are discarded.  Holes are many times not drilled straight, this piece won't lay flatly next to this one, this piece is much too thick etc.  I will string, inspect and remove and replace pieces many times before an item is created.  It may take me a pile of 50 pieces or more to create one necklace trying many different combinations before it is complete. They must all lay properly and complement each other in the design I have created.  Nuggets again cannot be too large and must be certain shapes to be able to give a bracelet the ability to bend and fit neatly against each other or large gaps will be seen.

For this piece it still required me to drill each and every piece of glass to be able to accommodate the leather.

While man made glass is not for everyone it gives new options in shape not previously available and the opportunity to have affordable pieces.  If you are looking for genuine sea glass simply search my shop for "genuine sea glass". 

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