The Book of Tides

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The use of glass fishing floats in sea magick

The use of glass floats in sea magick

Glass floats have been used in the fishing industry since the 1840s to support fishing nets while in use. These floats would often break loose from the nets and drift around in the ocean until coming ashore many years later. Glass floats found while beachcombing will have distinctive wear patterns from weather, exposure to seawater, and scraping against beach sand. Some glass fishing floats are even found which have their original nets, but this is uncommon.

glass fishing floats Early glass floats were hand-blown by glassblowers using recycled glass. In Japan, glass floats were made from broken or otherwise used sake bottles, which accounts for their light green colour. Newer floats which are made of cork and aluminum came into common usage during the postwar period due to their durability.

The common colour for glass floats is a light sea green due to the recycled sake bottles using in the crafting process. However, other colours include amber, clear, cobalt, lime green, olive green, violet, and red (very rare) are sometimes found.

Floats are commonly spherical, but other rarer shapes such as tube rollers and double floats have been found. They range in size from a 9" circumference to over 50" in circumference.

fishing floats
13" circumference in aqua with original rope and frosted wear, no markings
  fishing floats
32" circumference in aqua with original rope and scuffs, no markings
  fishing floats
13" circumference in amber with scuffs and other wear, no markings
fishing floats
13" circumference in lime green with wear and interior salt residue, no markings
       

Japanese and Norwegian floats are frequently marked with their maker's trademark on the pontil. Russian and Korean floats are marked on the sides in addition to having side seams from the molds used when creating the floats.

fishing floats
13" circumference in aqua with wear, two part Korean mold
  fishing floats
13" circumference in aqua with wear, three part Korean mold
  fishing floats
13" circumference in aqua with wear, two part Korean mold
fishing floats
13" circumference in aqua with wear and interior salt residue, marked "DGA" on seal button
       

reproduction fishing floats Warning: Beware of imitations. The glass of authentic floats is thick to enable survival during heavy usage. Remember, these have been floating around the oceans for decades. They don't break easily. Not only do most authentic floats have bubbles, but they will also have "sandblasted" wear patterns on them from the rope cording which originally held them in place. Occasionally you might even find a float with its original rope cording intact.

Floats of unusual colour that show no signs of wear are likely reproductions, so buyer beware if you did not collect the float yourself.

hanging glass float For magickal purposes, an older glass float which has been used in the ocean is best as it is already cleansed with seawater. If you cannot find one, however, a reproduction will suffice. I would recommend cleansing reproduction floats with saltwater upon acquisition.

A cobalt float is the best colour option when hanging a float to serve as a witch ball for the purpose of spiritual protection, but other colours will work in a pinch if that is all you have. Secure your float in place with jute or hemp corded netting and rope if possible.

Any colour float will work for scrying purposes. The important thing is to choose a float with plenty of swirls and bubbles to help you "see" better as you gaze past them into the float.

Further reading

You might also enjoy these books:

Beachcombing for Japanese Glass Floats Beachcombing for Japanese Glass Floats by Amos L. Wood (Binford & Mort Publishing, 1975): This book is interesting for its first-hand accounts of the author beachcombing for glass floats in the early days of finds drifting in from Japan. However, the real gem here is the illustrated and annotated list at the back of the book about the markings on the glass floats. This includes a translation if applicable in addition to any information about the manufacturing of that particular type of float. This is invaluable for float collectors.   Glass Fishing Floats of The World Glass Fishing Floats of The World: The Collector's Price Guide and Identification Handbook by Stu Farnsworth & Alan D. Rammer (self-published, 2001): This is a very thin spiral-bound volume focusing on the maker's marks for glass floats. Each entry includes a hand-drawn illustration. This includes European made floats in addition to Japanese, Korean, and American made floats. There are also some illustrations of different float shapes. If you collect any floats besides Japanese, this book will be useful.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:


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