Sea glass forms when glass is discarded into the ocean, either deliberately or by accident, and then tumbles about and is smoothed by the sea. Pebbles are also formed in much the same way but from bigger stones, bricks, etc. You can also find sea pottery sometimes; it is often characterised by visual remnants of the glaze, hinting at its origins. Essentially all of these things are marine pollutants, albeit beautiful and interesting ones.
Sea glass can be found on most beaches in the UK but there are some where it is more prevalent and this is often due to the history of the area. Now I’m not claiming to be an expert on this topic so I am providing links where you can find out more (or you can just Google it) but Seaham in the north east of England is one such beach with a fascinating past, resulting in an abundance of treasure that can be found there today. I’ve often spoken about how unique and interesting the place is, but trust me it really is… Until 1921, Seaham was home to a huge bottle factory – a hint at the magnitude of this factory I think can be appreciated when you consider it is now 100 years since it closed and the nearest beaches still wash up glass from there on a daily basis. What I find particularly pleasing about Seaham glass is its smooth, pebble-like qualities and also the variety of colours you can find there. Both of these make it a beautiful and inspiring material to work with.
I think part of the fascination of glass collecting is how it looks when you find it. Often covered by a layer of sea water and especially on a sunny day, when it catches your eye it’s like finding a rare gem stone. By far the most common colours I have collected are green and clear but even within these two categories the variety of shades are amazing. I particularly love the aqua shades that look clear when you collect them but when you get them home, show themselves to be a multitude of subtle shades.
Seaham also washes up rarer, multi-coloured pieces, or 'multis' as they are known in the sea glass world. These often originate from some of the more decorative pieces that were made at the factories in the north east when glass was blown and then discarded as unusable. These are magical to find and fascinating to look at. In two visits to Seaham I have found an abundance of green and aqua colours but only a handful of multis and I treasure each of them (one day I might think of something special to do with them).
Sea glass also looks completely different once you wash and dry it, often having a ‘frosted’ appearance. I find this lovely too, in fact I love finding little flaws like bubbles, pitted surfaces or wire running through it. I love imagining the story that it could tell.
A great way to restore the magic of the ocean is to gently rub your sea glass with oil such as baby oil or coconut oil – it really makes the colours pop. But sometimes it’s nice to just admire the beauty of the piece in its natural state.
Happy hunting :)