The Book of Tides

a resource site for sea magick

The use of sea glass in sea magick

The use of sea glass in sea magick

Sea glass (sometimes incorrectly called beach glass) is glass from broken bottles or jars which is left in larger bodies of moving water. The tumbling effect of the water and sand smooths the rough edges of the glass. This process creates small pieces of frosted glass. There is even a beach in Hawaii that is made entirely of sea glass rather than sand. New sea glass has sharp edges with clean breaks. The older pieces are easily identified with their frosted edges which have been ground down by the nearby waters.

Sea glass Many beachcombers collect sea glass as they search their local beaches for treasures. Some colours are harder to spot than others, and accordingly are considered more valuable by collectors.

It can be found in every colour on beaches around the world, but the colour of a piece of sea glass depends on its origin. While quite a bit of sea glass comes from bottles, some comes from broken ceramics, old jars, even tableware. The standard colour correspondences can be applied the sea glass that you find for use in magick. While you can match the colours of sea glass to specific magickal needs, however, it is rare enough that you may need to simply use what you have.

white sea glass -- or blue, pink, green?
Tip: Not sure what colour it is? Try these two tricks to determine colour.

Extremely rare colours

Extremely rare colours are sea glass colours include orange, red, turquoise, teal, yellow, black, and grey. Most of these were originally art glassware or slag glass from glass factories.

orange
orange
  red
red
  turquoise
turquoise
teal
teal
  yellow
yellow
  black
black
grey
grey
     

Rare colours

Rare colours include pink, aqua, cornflower blue, cobalt blue, opaque white, citron, and purple. These are primarily from art glassware.

pink
pink
  aqua
aqua
  cornflower blue
cornflower blue
cobalt blue
cobalt blue
  opaque white
opaque white
  citron
citron
purple
purple
       

Uncommon colours

Uncommon sea glass colours include soft green, soft blue, forest green, lime green, golden amber, amber, and jade green. These are mostly from old soda and alcohol bottles.

soft green
soft green
  soft blue
soft blue
  forest green
forest green
lime green
lime green
  golden amber
golden amber
  amber
amber
jade green
jade green
       

Common colours

The most common sea glass colours are kelly green, brown, and clear. Most of these come from old beer bottles.

brown
brown
  kelly green
kelly green
white
white

Warning: Beware of imitations. Sea glass can also be artificially created in a rock tumbler, but it's not the same. It takes years of wear and tear from the water to create the distinctive wear patterns on authentic sea glass. Such glass is usually called "craft glass" by collectors.

If you see rare colours priced the same as common ones -- or if the seller is offering "sea glass" by weight or volume, the seller has craft glass.

sea pottery Sea pottery

Of special note is what is termed "sea pottery" or "sea ceramics". These shards are from broken ceramics and porcelain. They can be distinguished from beach stones by their colourful glazes. A maker's mark may be visible on some pieces to identify its origin.

The edges of each piece are worn by water and sand in the same manner as sea glass. Sea ceramics have a tendency to show more wear than sea glass does due to the nature of its material.

Further reading

You might also enjoy these books:

Pure Sea Glass Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems by Richard LaMotte (Pure Sea Glass, 2004): A must-have reference with regard to sea glass colours and their origins. Which colours are rarest, and why? There are full-colour photos for each sea glass colour, helpful in determining the difference between citron and lime, for example.   Pure Sea Glass deck Pure Sea Glass Identification Deck by Richard LaMotte (Sea Glass Publishing, 2009): This includes a deck of cards for colour identification, one card per colour. The back of each card lists the rarity of that colour, how often it might be found, and sources of glass produced in that colour to help in dating your sea glass finds. Also included are some extra cards about different types of bottles and glassware that might produce different shapes of sea glass. This is a must-have for any sea glass collector.
The Official Sea Glass Searcher's Guide The Official Sea Glass Searcher's Guide: How to Find Your Own Treasures from the Tide by Cindy Bilbao (Countryman Press, 2014): Very useful and practical tips for those new to the hobby of collecting sea glass.   Sea Glass Hunter's Handbook Sea Glass Hunter's Handbook by C.S. Lambert (Down East Books, 2010): Not a bad resource for sea glass collectors, but the ratio of personal reminiscences of favourite finds from various collectors compared to the actual information on finding and organizing a collection of sea glass seems large.
A Passion for Sea Glass A Passion for Sea Glass by C.S. Lambert (Down East Books, 2008): Rather than a reference guide, this is more of a craft inspiration book for collectors who are not content to display jars of sea glass as-found. If you enjoy working with sea glass, there are several project ideas included in the book.   Sea glass hearts Sea Glass Hearts by Josie Iselin (Harry N. Abrams, 2012): Not a whole lot of information in this, but it is a very pretty little art book. This is one for the coffee table.
Sea Glass Chronicles Sea Glass Chronicles by C.S. Lambert (Down East Books, 2001): I would categorize this as an art book rather than reference book for sea glass collectors. For each large photograph of a particular grouping of shards, there is a bit of trivia on where there were found and the probable origins of those particular pieces. Very pretty, but not useful for those who need a general reference. If you just need a coffee-table book, though, pick this one for the lovely photos.   Sea Glass Treasures from the Tide Sea Glass Treasures from the Tide by Cindy Bilbao (Countryman Press, 2014): Lovely photos if you are in the market for an art book on sea glass, but definitely light on the content. This one is for the coffee table.

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


Seawater Healing
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