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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Looking at colors: Kelly Green

Green sea glass-- alternately referred to as "common" green, "Kelly green" or sometimes "Heineken green"-- is the third most common color in sea glass collecting.

Although quite a common color, it is actually also fairly "new", when it comes to collecting sea glass. Green, as a color for sea glass collecting, comes in a great many different shades some of which can be extremely rare. Most sea glass experts and collectors limit the "distinct and named" shades to about 6-7, but I have identified close to 30 distinct (repeating) shades of green in my own collection.

If you examine antique (100+ years old) green glass , you'll find that most of it comes either in very bluish or olive green shades. The "pure" kelly green we typically find on beaches today has mostly been mass produced during the past 60-70 years, most often for beer and soda bottles-- it is more common in some countries than others.

To see more pictures of green sea glass, please visit my Green Sea Glass Photo Album on Flickr!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Looking at Colors: Brown

Along with clear and kelly green, brown is one of the three "common" sea glass colors. Common is a relative term, of course-- but this color can be found on most beaches around the world. That said, it was quite uncommon on the beaches of Denmark (where I grew up) because 99% of beer and soda bottles there were green, rather than brown.

A large and thick nugget of brown sea glass
In the US and most other countries, the majority of brown sea glass comes from beer bottles. Thicker pieces generally come from older glassware-- in the US, Clorox bottles used to be made of dark brown glass; a practical matter as chlorine in photosensitive and tends to lose its potency when exposed to light. For this reason, quite a few other cleansers and chemicals were put into brown bottles-- it was also a relatively inexpensive color to manufacture. Brown was also used for medicine containers. Growing up in Denmark, I remember various pills from my mom's medicine cabinet would be housed in dark brown jars.

Brown sea glass actually comes in a number of different shades, ranging from "almost black" to amber. The paler shades tend to be scarcer. There are practical reasons for this: the brown color is obtained by adding iron oxide to the glass "batch," and the more is added, the more durable the glass becomes. Collectors generally find that any large pieces of brown also tend to be darker colors. The true "honey" or "mustard" colored amber sea glass is very rare in larger sizes. The difference between golden/honey amber and brown glass can fairly easily be seen when you hold each color up to the light, side by side.

As stated at the beginning of this post, brown sea glass is fairly common. I'd estimate that for every 100 pieces of sea glass I find (US beaches) about 20-25 will be some form of brown.

Because most brown tends to be somewhat dark and often looks "blackish" away from strong light, this color is rarely used by artists and jewelers for their creations. That said, it can be very pretty when used for framed art to be hung in a window, backed by natural light. The pieces in the photo at left are mostly smaller (1/2" or less) and are shown here in bright sunshine-- where they show in a more vibrant and "warm" color.

To see pictures of more pieces of brown sea glass, please visit my Brown Sea Glass Photo Gallery on Flickr!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How is that POSSIBLE??

Occasionally, I receive slightly "accusatory" letters (emails) from sea glass collectors. Usually, they have recently looked at my sea glass sales listings and have concluded that I "must be selling fake sea glass."

The reason?

They insist that it's "not possible" for me to have as much high quality sea glass-- and in rare colors, to boot-- as I have. At least, it's "not possible" if the sea glass was actually "real."

Of course, all my sea glass is "real." What is missing from the equation is a sense of perspective.

I live near the beach. As the crow flies, the ocean is about 100 yards from my back porch.

I beach comb... a lot. Because I am self-employed, and my work is not dependent on "business hours," I could pretty much beach comb every single day, if I wanted to. As it is, I'm probably on the beach 150-200 days a year.

Beach combing isn't a "short stroll" for me. Many of my outings cover 15 miles over 10 hours... or more.

I've been beach combing since I was a child. 45 years, give or take a few. Not everything I offer for sale was found "recently."

So let's say-- for example's sake-- that I find 10 pieces of sea glass per hour. A lot of collectors can look at that and say "Yeah, I find that on MY beach, too!"

Then, let's extrapolate: That's 100 pieces in a 10-hour day. Or-- conservatively speaking-- fifteen thousand pieces a year. Now, let's extend that and just talk about the last 25 years of my adult life... that becomes four hundred and fifty thousand pieces of glass! Keep in mind, I didn't start seriously trading/selling till 2007-- so many of those years I simply "accumulated" glass, common and rare.

I hope this post doesn't come across as sounding too defensive. I just wanted to illustrate that it's all a matter of perspective. If your perspective is that you beach comb once or twice a month during the summer, for about an hour each trip, then of course it seems like I have an "unreasonable amount" of sea glass.

As for the rare colors, I am fortunate to live in a place that has had an active seaport since the 1850's, so all colors of "old" glass can be found here... which is not generally true of places that are "newer" population centers.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Looking at Colors: Clear

Clear (sometimes called "white," although this is a misdescription) is the most common sea glass color. For every 100 pieces of sea glass found-- on pretty much any beach around the world-- it's a good bet that half or more will be clear. This is not really surprising, if you stop to consider just how many containers and other objects are made out of clear glass.

Piece of clear sea glass from old insulator
Most people who have walked on a beach and looked down have probably come across a piece of clear sea glass. Once the glass has been rolled about in surf and salt water for many years, gets a soft almost luminous glow-- hence clear sea glass has sometimes been called "ocean moonstones." Another popular term for sea glass is "Mermaid tears," and I feel pretty sure this name originally came into use in association with clear sea glass.

Clear sea glass is often overlooked and dismissed as "boring," on account of its lack of color. This is a bit unfair, as the variety of objects originally made with clear glass is vast, and there's no telling what might turn up. Over the years I have found Victorian era doorknobs, cabinet and drawer pulls, bottle stoppers, intact handles from small pitchers, pieces of laboratory glass, security glass, window glass and many many pieces with writing on them, along with all sorts of other unusual items.

The shown piece-- which is about 1 1/2 inches across-- shows the clear lines from the threads of an old glass electric insulator. Such large thick and frosted pieces are actually somewhat uncommon-- I was very happy to find this piece washed up on the beach, after a winter storm.

To have a look at some of the many and varied types of clear sea glass, visit my Clear Sea Glass Photo Gallery on Flickr!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Seaglass Auctions Ending Saturday, February 16th

Although it is still cold around these parts, there are signs that spring is just around the corner, here in Western Washington. Just this morning, I noticed that the first spring crocuses were starting to bloom.

Spring means more "friendly" tides for sea glass collecting, and I look forward to starting a new season of beach combing. There have been some good large storms this winter, which means the landscape of the beach has been changed considerably, and some of the gravel (and sea glass) that once was several feet below grade has been brought to the surface. There are upsides and downsides to this-- the downside being that the rough surf (unfortunately) tends to put fresh breaks and chips into a lot of the glass.

In the meantime, I have been sorting more glass from the bins in the office-- mostly saved items from last year's beach trips. Yesterday (Saturday) I finished listing about 100 new lots on eBay, including both "bulk lots" chosen for jewelry and mosaics, as well as individual collector pieces and rarities. As always, auction lots are open to bidding, or items can be purchased immediately, using eBay's "buy it now" feature.

The current series of auctions are scheduled to close on the evening of Saturday, February 16th. At the request of a number of people, sales now close at one minute interval, allowing more ready participation for those who enjoy "live" bidding. In addition, I am hoping to add some new lots to store inventory by the beginning if this coming week.

Some highlights from the current group of auctions are shown here. This time there are some particularly nice REDS, as well as pink, turquoise, orange and other scarce colors. I am also offering a couple of very large "bulk" type lots with 100s of pieces.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

eBay Sea Glass Auctions closing Monday, February 4th

It has been cold-- even snowy-- in Western Washington, so my beach combing has been limited. I may be quite "dedicated," but 27 degrees and windy is NOT my favorite kind of weather for going to the beach.

Instead, I have spent the last couple of weeks sorting two gallon sized (yes, I said GALLON) pickle jars full of unsorted seaglass from the last couple of years. The result is a new series of sea glass auctions, as well as many new items in the North Beach Treasures eBay store.

This time, I have listed over 110 new lots, including both "groups" chosen for jewelry and mosaics, as well as individual collector pieces and rarities. As always, auction lots are open to bidding, or items can be purchased immediately, using "buy it now." The current series of auctions are scheduled to close on the evening of Monday, February 4th.

Some highlights from the current group of auctions are shown alongside. There is a very nice representation of rare colors in the current set, including several shades of ultra rare ORANGE sea glass. Orange is widely regarded as the single rarest color in sea glass collecting, and many collectors will beachcomb for a lifetime, and never find a single piece.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Sea Glass Auctions: Group 1

My first group of seaglass auctions for 2008 are now listed on eBay!

North Beach Treasures auction listings

I like to group the glass together the way actual brick-and-mortar auctioneers do, so there are multiple "lots" all being offered with approximately the same end time.

The first sale of 2008 has a total of 30 lots, including both some individual better pieces that might be of interest to collectors, as well as some nice "groupings" that are more offered for jewelry makers or crafts people.

The highlight of the sale is the nice piece of bright turquoise, pictured above. Genuine turquoise is one of the rarest of all seaglass colors, and eludes many collectors, even if they have walked the beach for many years. Along with orange, turquoise tends to be the highest priced color in the collector market. A fairly large flawless piece of turquoise seaglass sold for $176.00 on eBay, in early 2007. On the rare occasions when high quality shards of this color are offered, the prices tend to reach $50+ very quickly.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winter Sea Glass Collecting

First post of 2008. Happy New Year!

If you live in the northern hemisphere, collecting sea glass in the winter can be somewhat of a challenge.
Not only are you dealing with a high likelihood of inclement weather, but the days are short and typically the highest tides are during daylight hours, and the low tides occur in the middle of the night.

I went to the beach exactly
twice in December, and found very little of interest. Some of the better and more interesting items will end up on eBay, later this month.

Happily, there are some better days (tide-wise) coming up towards the middle of January, and I just hope the weather isn't completely horrible. Spending three hours on the beach with rain being driven into my face at 25mph, while the temperature is about 40 (4C) is really not my idea of a fun time.

About Me

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1960 vintage Danish national now living in the Pacific Northwest... active in the global HSP community; active beach comber and sea glass collector; lifetime collector of postage stamps from Scandinavia; writer and consultant, primarily to the metaphysics and self-help industries, writer at OM Times magazine; artist who doodles on rocks; eBay & Etsy entrepreneur and studio and production assistant at Radio Nahmaste.

Diverse enough for you?