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Copper & Beach Glass

It’s just occurring to me that I’ve been lazy all year and putting my work on Facebook instead of my blog. So I’m backtracking a little in the next few days to get my site up to date.

Beautiful cat's eye marble suspended on a slightly larger frame than the others.
Beautiful cat’s eye marble suspended on a slightly larger frame than the others.


With that in mind, here are some of my favourite things from last year: beach glass suspended in soldered, hammered, copper circles!

After I made the circles (WITH FIRE!) I suspended each piece of beach glass in the centre, then dunked them into liver of sulfur (stinky) to instantly darken the surface of the copper.

Blackened copper



My friend Amy and I then painstakingly ground the patina back off the top of the wire, leaving it only in the crevices. I’m so glad she was here to help, this is hard on the hands!

Extremely helpful friend.


Dirty and is that a broken thumbnail!?


Left: finished & oiled; Right: blackened only


After the liver of sulfur and sanding down, the beach glass needs oiling again.

A bit of creative staging and voila! I love these:


Cobalt bottle rim
Cobalt bottle rim


Soft aqua beach glass... beautiful colour.
Soft aqua beach glass… beautiful colour.


Kelly Green glass; this almost looks like a bouquet!
Kelly Green glass; this almost looks like a bouquet!


Dark lime green. Really gorgeous colour in person.
Dark lime green. Really gorgeous colour in person.


Soft green
Soft green


Amber brown
Amber brown


Clay & Beach Glass – Whoops?

Ever do anything super boneheaded? I’ve been sick this week but determined to make jewellery anyway. I didn’t have the brainpower for steampunk assemblage, so I figured I’d re-try my beach glass in polymer clay experiment. The earlier design won an award but didn’t sell much; I think because I used rare beach glass and the price was a bit high. So, I decided to make a bunch of common-colors – punching up the look with mica powders – and sell them at a lower price to offset the rare pieces.

First I used silver clay; I rolled it out and textured it, cutting out shapes to fit each piece of beach glass and adding clay bezels with individualized texture to each. I only had to take apart a couple to put the aluminum foil in!2014-11-15 09.11.37

Oops, then I realized they were supposed to be bendy – baked on spoons – or else the sheer flat backs stick to your skin and the silly things never sit right on your neck. So then I had to painstakingly move each piece onto the back of a spoon, fixing the breakage that inevitably happened when I moved them; and then I colored each piece with various mica powders, blending the colours right on the clay.2014-11-15 11.36.26

OK, baking time!2014-11-15 11.43.59

Wait. WAIT. I forgot to put the rivets in the holes! Aw, man. They’re less finished but I’ll figure something out. 2014-11-15 12.25.56

I even managed to shove rivets into some of the holes.

Second batch:2014-11-16 12.03.29

Pretty! I love the colours I managed to make… and I realized that the silver clay wasn’t the best choice – this batch is on black clay and the colours show up far better.2014-11-16 13.17.21

The middle columns are the silver clay – they’re just lacking in contrast and the texture is lost.2014-11-16 13.08.29

So, another unnecessary step due to being a bonehead: I put the first layer of varnish on, let it dry, brushed on some black acrylic paint, and wiped it off leaving it in the crevices. Left it to dry, then did the second layer of varnish to seal it in. Much improved, despite the blurry photo (also shown are some flat squares from earlier in the month that I varnished at the same time, destined for wire wrapping later).20141116_135329

OK, OK, they’re looking great. Time for another batch on black clay!20141122_111208

Fabulous! I baked them and I think they’re gorgeous…


But… wait a second…

… awww man!! I forgot to put any holes in them AT ALL!! *facepalm*

What a knucklehead!

I’m not allowed to bake ANYTHING while sick ever again, especially not before noon.

I’m debating drilling them or possibly coming up with a wire-wrap solution.. the 4-strand braid might work… it wasn’t what I’d planned for them but hey, ya gotta roll with the punches, right?

Even when you’re a bonehead.


Wrapping Beach Glass in Clay!

I live on an island. For the past six years, a significant chunk of my income has come from wire-wrapping beach glass and selling it to tourists, or folks from here who have family away and want to send them a piece of home. It’s been great, and my parents have been my largest supplier of beach glass, picking it up on their weekly beach walks.

But recently, at least three other wrappers have popped up and I felt the market was inundated, so I stopped – but my work was still being requested. I ruminated for a while, and decided that polymer clay was the answer.

First, I did a bit of sketching. That’s my new thing, with the Think and Design series behind me and a gorgeous new Galaxy Note 8 Tablet (with the pressure sensitive s-pen!!!).

Beach glass July 22 2013_01(1) Beach glass July 22 2013_04 Beach glass July 22 2013_05

I may have gotten a little carried away drawing shellfish.

Anyway, yesterday was the first day I was actually able to work on this idea. I grabbed a couple of light, slightly uncommon soft greens and got to work. At first, I wanted to just make sure I could actually capture the stone without using a back, so I didn’t get into any fancy sculpture, just some waves and dots.

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I sort of liked them – the blue one has great lines – but neither one of them was really pushing my buttons. I couldn’t figure out why, so I went straight to my wonderful fan base on Facebook and asked their opinions! And oh boy did they have opinions :) Most people agreed with me that they weren’t quite right but it wasn’t until I started pushing for answers that it came up to the surface: they looked like icing, like cartoons, like kid’s jewellery. Which totally resonated with me, and now looking at them I can identify that the solid colours and thick lines are not sophisticated enough. I needed texture, depth, interest.

So OK, back to the drawing board. Except this time I didn’t do any drawing. Whoops?

Anyway, I thought of trying a somewhat traditional bezel setting. I rolled out some clay, textured it with this gorgeous zentangle stamp, cut out a geometric shape using my clay blade, used an x-acto knife to cut out a hole behind the stone to allow the light through, and then used a piece of textured clay to create a bezel to trap the stone.



I went back to facebook with the new prototypes and received much more enthusiastic reviews. I was really excited, so I made more!






I had a lot of fun picking out and blending the Pearl Ex Powder colours on the surface of the clay to set off the colour of each piece of glass.

This technique lets me play with pearlex powders and textures while still keeping the natural beach glass which I actually do still love a lot, and I think it’s just groovy.

I can see a few places to improve and grow on this technique but so far, I’m loving it and I just had to share!

EDIT: Ok wow, my friend suggested that aluminum foil behind the glass would help with the luminosity, and BOY HOWDY does it ever! The difference was so staggeringly awesome that I re-baked all of these with foil trapped in a new layer of clay. Check it out, before and after, similar lighting conditions:

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It’s like there’s a flashlight behind them when it’s now solid clay! Yum :)

And new ones!

User comments

Beachcombed, sorted

I sorted my beach glass! This is everything I have. I thought it might be neat to show the actual rarity of the colours by volume. Here is all of it:


(click for larger + notes)

And a close-up on my precious pieces:


I’m surprised at how little brown I had – I actually was given four or five of the largest of those pieces. The huge cobalt blue piece my mom has had since I was a little girl – the rest are actually quite tiny. There’s some dark olive greens that are quite nice, and some of my darker teals. Or aquas. I am never sure which is which! And finally, my precious precious bag of the rarest colours there are.

There’s only one piece in there I haven’t found myself, and that’s the orange. It’s a piece of ‘depression glass’ that my friend Angie found personally and gave it to me because I was literally drooling. OH wait and that large lavender piece and I think the big blue marble were also given to me by people who found them on local beaches. The red piece was the highlight of my beachcombing life :) The tiny pink piece, at the bottom, was also fun. And there’s a couple of yellow pieces that were also quite exciting – not to mention that black marble!

Ahh, memories. It’s lovely when I make something out of one of these and then someone buys it. Two of my three personally-found marbles are in homes, and it pleases me no end.