Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sea Glass

On Sunday, the Chesapeake Bay Children and I took advantage of the warm weather and went to one of our county beaches. This is the one between Haven and Bethel; the road is called Aaron's Beach Road so Sherlock I am assuming the name of the beach is Aaron's, although quite honestly I've never heard it called that.

Sea glass is abundant at many of our local beaches. For the unacquainted, this is not your run-of-the-mill shard of trash glass. Rather this is older glass that has been rough-and-tumbled in the water, waves and sand for a long time until it is smooth, not sharp, and actually sort of pretty. Some people collect sea glass, and recently I declared myself to be one of those. A collector, not a piece of sea glass, although sometimes my mental capabilities remind me of a piece of sea glass.

Anyway, I was surprised to learn that some of the colors we frequently find--such as green and blue--are actually rather rare. I was also surprised to find that the Chesapeake Bay is known for its sea glass. I'm not surprised to state that I didn't know either of these until I read them on Wikipedia.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about all this:

Sea Glass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sea glass (also known as beach glass, mermaid's tears, lucky tears, and many other names) is glass found on beaches along oceans or large lakes that has been tumbled and smoothed by the water and sand, creating small pieces of smooth, frosted glass.[1]

Sea glass is one of the very few cases of a valuable item being created from the actions of the environment on man-made litter.

The color of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, but it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, glasses, art, flasks, containers, and any other glass source that has found its way into the ocean. Some collectors also collect sea pottery.

The most common colors of sea glass are kelly green, brown, and clear. These colors come from bottles used by companies that sell beer, juices, and soft drinks. The clear or white glass comes from clear plates and glasses, windshields, windows, and assorted other sources.[2]

Less common colors include jade, amber (from bottles for whiskey, medicine, spirits, and early bleach bottles), golden amber (mostly used for spirit bottles), lime green (from soda bottles during the 1960s), forest green, and soft blue (from soda bottles, medicine bottles, ink bottles, and fruit jars from the late 1800s and early 1900s, windows, and windshields.) These colors are found about once for every 25 to 100 pieces of sea glass found.[2]

Uncommon colors of sea glass include green, which comes primarily from early to mid-1900s Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper, and RC Cola bottles, as well as beer bottles. Soft green colors could come from bottles that were used for ink, fruit, and baking soda. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces.[2]

Purple sea glass is very uncommon, as is citron, opaque white (from milk glass), cobalt and cornflower blue (from early Milk of Magnesia bottles, poison bottles, artwork, and Bromo-Seltzer and Vicks VapoRub containers), and aqua (from Ball Mason jars and 19th century glass bottles.) These colors are found once for every 200 to 1,000 pieces found.[2]

Rare and extremely rare colors include gray, pink (often from Great Depression era plates), teal (often from Mateus wine bottles), black (older, very dark olive green glass), yellow (often from 1930s Vaseline containers), turquoise (from tableware and art glass), red (often from nautical lights, found once in every 5,000 pieces), and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in 10,000 pieces.) These colors are found once for every 1,000 to 10,000 pieces collected. Some of the black glass is quite old, originating from thick eighteenth-century gin, beer and wine bottles.[2]

Like gathering shells or stones, collecting sea glass is a hobby among beach-goers and beachcombers, and many enjoy filling decorative jars or making jewelry from their finds. Hobbyists both enjoy searching for and collecting sea glass, as well as identifying its original origins.

Sea glass can be found all over the world, but the beaches of the Northeast United States, Mexico,Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Maine, Nova Scotia, The Chesapeake Bay, California, and Southern Spain are famous for sea glass. The best times to look are during spring tides and perigean and proxigean tides, and during the first low tide after a storm.

Beach glass, as it is called on inland lakes, such as the Great Lakes, is similar to sea glass. However, this glass is weathered by sand and tidal action and not by the saline waters where sea glass is found


The Chesapeake Bay Children and I found about six pieces of green sea glass the other day. The way I figure it, I ought to be able to retire before too long. My figuring skills are not exactly my strong suit, though. See previous statement about the similarities between sea glass and my mental faculties.


Grandma J said...

I think some of those rare sea glass come from Mercurochrome or Merthiolate bottles tossed into the bay by CBW as a child. This could prove to be a very lucrative way of recycling. Is this activity on the agenda for blogfest?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Grandma J., I think you're right about those mercurochrome bottles! Vile stuff. Oh, and yes, I did consider sea glass hunting as an activity for blog fest. We also saw a flock/herd of fiddler crabs too, so those who are uninterested in sea glass can try to tame a fiddler crab. (Good luck.)

Off to work. Again.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

We have friends who live in Chesapeake Beach MD and always try to collect some sea glass when we visit them. I would love to add to my collection with some Virginia-brand sea glass.

I have to say, it tickles me that it's called sea glass, even though it's just trash washed up to shore. Still, it's pretty.

mmm said...

At what point (NPI) does it cease to be pollution and become sea glass?

Can a whole bottle be sea glass? I've seen a lot of amber ones at places like Haven Beach and Bethel Beach.

Perhaps CBFamily will make a beautiful, Tiffany-like, sea glass mosaic for blogfest.

Annie said...

Now you are reminding me of the book by Anita Shreve,I think. It sounds pretty. Lucky you to have the beach at your doorstep...what fun!

Yes, we are back in NY...I was reading your blog just as my little sis was brewing up her coffee after midnight last night, and discovered that she forgot to put the cup under the spout...mmm...coffee from a tray, not appealing!

Mental P Mama said...

We love to collect it as well! And I think I might just be able to retire as well. Who knew?

Daryl said...

Personally I cant wait to hear those fiddler crabs play ...

Big Hair Envy said...

If anyone gets hurt while herding fiddler crabs, or hunting sea glass, I'll run over to Grandma's and get her bottle of methylate. I KNEW that would come in handy!

Autumnforest said...

You know, I'm stuck in the desert and really miss sea glass. I'm wondering if anyone out there has tried using a rock tumbler to make sea glass and if it works well? Let me know.

kaffy said...

I feel so knowledgeable after reading your sea glass post! My brain actually works. I want to be a collector too! Just like CBW and kids. The comment about glass from "Mateus bottles" reminds me of the SNL skit where Bill Murray is "Todd" with his pants pulled up to his ears and giving noogies to "Lisa" (Gilda Radner). He tries to woo her with a bottle of Mateus (calling it "Matayus" when it really is pronounced "Matoose" in the US). Well, it was funny. Guess you had to be there. Yup, that was from the 70s no doubt. Excuse me while I wrinkle.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, this will require 2 comments, no proofreading allowed, 'cause I'm in a hurry.....

Aaron's beach is named after a man named Aaron Brooks. He allowed his cattle to wander on the marshes near his beach and met his demise after being gored by his own bull. He caught the bull by its nose, pinching the sensitive area between nostrils (hence the positioning of the ring in the nose) and led it home, while holding his own wounds closed with his other arm. I'm not sure when this ocurred, but I will consult Anonymous Mathews Mother tonight and ask.

Gives you a new appreciation of my cattle herding skills, doesn't it? :)


Anonymous said...

so, we accidentally drove over the front door mat with the Zero Turn Mower ("we" being Anonymous Mathews Mother) and got the blades all tangled up in it. We are officially out of commission. :(

We (yet again An. Mat. Mother) are contemplating calling the local tractor repair shop and having them pick up the mower for its bi-annual oil change and blade-sharpening, and just telling them "not to worry about re-wrapping the doormat around the blades." What do you think?


Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Meg, we'll send you home with fistfuls of it, don't worry.

MMM - The bottom line in The Chesapeake Bay Woman Book of Deep Thought is today there's almost no such thing as glass bottles, everything's pretty much plastic. So ANY piece of green or blue glass is going to be different/valuable ("value" being relative) but in addition, the sea glass has a different look about it...smoother, polished, almost takes on a different quality. A whole bottle COULD be sea glass, but by virtue of the fact that sea glass is made by roughing it up against sand and water, I'd imagine it would be rare to find an intact glass. HOWEVER, in the bogs/creeks/marshes around here (what's a bog? I just slid that one in there) you can find intact bottles that may not qualify as sea glass but most certainly are of some value. For example, the Chesapeake Bay Kids have found an almost entirely intact blue bottle which "they" (meaning They, not the kids) say is collectible. And now, after that lengthy response, I realize you're talking about beer bottles(!) which do not count as sea glass. (That's what I get for very quickly skimming responses and paying little if any attention to details.)

Annie - The Coffee Quandry - that should be the name of your sister's blog.

MPM - We'll be sure to give you some to take back this summer.

Daryl -Just wait! They're everywhere, and while they don't play the violin, they DO make little clickety click sounds that remind me of hooves, cloven hooves....

BHE - I think you ought to bring it anyway, just for a conversation piece. We could take that glass dropper and use it as a sword to fend off those devilish fiddler crabs...

Autumnforest - We could always send you some...or you could join us at Blog Fest and give you an excuse to travel east.

Hey, Kaffy - Glad your brain works, what advice would you give someone whose brain is dead? This same person has never heard of Mateus before (or has and forgot about it) and, like the person in the skit, had been pronouncing it Matayus.

AMN - Wow - I am indeed impressed with the depth of your knowledge. Thanks so much for clarification on Aaron's beach, had never heard that story before. That Anonymous Mathews Mother is a woman after my own heart what with all that grinding up of stuff on the brand new lawn mower. Bravo!! This is NOT a deficiency but a sign of strong character and a bit of fesitiness. Please keep me posted on this and other zero-turn stories, I am riveted! (Seriously. I'm borderline obsessed when it comes to tractors.)

Have a great evening. CBW

Annie said...

AMN ...yes, I think that sounds like a good approach. You have just reminded me that when I get back to Australia in a month or so, I have to confront my own mower problems. I don't know whether the wheel fell off, or the undercarriage fell out of it, the last night I was mowing the yard before I left ..in the dark! There was a horrible scraping noise as I trundled it down the driveway to put it away..not a good sound.

CBW...This is getting creepy. I was just reading your blog, and your comment back to me, when my sister got up and said..."I forgot the coffee". There is something weird going on between your blog and mine...! And yes, I think The Coffee Quandry sounds like a great name for her blog. If only she would write on it...she has one, but she hasn't written on it much for ages. [She is a bit of a native plant lover]. But I am enjoying her coffee tonight! It has only taken us 3 nights to get it right!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Annie, I swear I am laughing more with each coffee tale that your sister produces. You and she really need to collaborate on a blog, if not hers, then yours. Too funny. May that coffee she's brewing up be the best ever; may the caffeine be with you (and your sister). -cbw

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

Isn't that what this is - a bog?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Meg - Indeed you are correct, as in "This blog is so bogged down with hot air, it's a wonder anyone reads it."

There was a point in time--the year before and a few years during college--when I actually had a functioning brain and a decent vocabulary. Then college + work + life + kids = brain bog.

Is there a remedy?

Off to sleep before the five thirty alarm jolts me awake.

foolery said...

I used to sell bags of "sea glass" in my store, about 100 miles from the ocean as the crow flies. I suspect it was made with a really big and noisy rock tumbler. It was mostly green, aqua, white and blue.


Oh, I guess that includes me.