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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!

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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.

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