Understanding source types can make it easier to identify age, origin and the purpose of the sea glass shards you come upon.  There are 3 main sources from which we get our lovely shards of sea glass

VESSEL GLASS  (bottles, bowls, jars, containers, etc.);

Vessel glass is commonly found any place where there have been settlements, ferry runs, resorts and plantation communities. Oftentimes such glass has been dumped directly into waterways or buried in pits adjacent to waterways that eventually become exposed.


Good examples of vessel sea glass are these ice blue shards from old soda and medicine bottles, and mason jars.


Japanese saki bottles are an excellent source material for a lovely shade of sea glass as are old mason canning jars.


 Slag glass comes from vessel glass that was purposefully dumped into incinerators  is a rare find. Some of the most beautiful examples can be found on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big island, a residue (both literally and figuratively) from 19th and 20th century sugar plantation communities.


Utility glass includes windows, insulators, fishing floats, paperweights, marbles, beads, bottlestoppers, etc. all of which offer beachcombers some of the most interesting sea glass finds.  Telephone insulators (below) provide combers with beautiful shades of  sea glass.


Marbles, from child’s play or from “corking” up bottles (called ‘codds’), are always a favorite beachcomb find.


A good example of utilitarian source sea glass are fishing floats. Though replaced nowadays with plastic floats, glass floats still wash up on coastlines in Alaska, Russia, the PNW, Hawai’i, Japan, on some Pacific and Caribbean islands and occasionally coastlines fronting the north Atlantic and the North Sea.


Colorful art glass like this Chihuly piece, once discarded, can transform into amazingly beautiful sea glass shards.


Santa Cruz beaches offer up some of the loveliest art sea glass shards.  These, from comber Kalli’s collection,  were washed down from the Davenport Art Studio during a flood.


Bottle Stoppers: A favorite (but often very hard-to-find beach treasure) are glass bottle stoppers. These beauties, from Comber Gary’s Canadian collection, date from the mid-late 1800s to early 1900’s.


  1. Discarded raw glass

This is raw glass that are the discards from glass manufacturing plants or glass art studios. Often called “end-of-the-day glass,” such glass, when dumped into and tumbled around waterways often results in luminous ovals, orbs and “eggs”of sea glass.  Some of the best examples of end-of-the-day class can be found on the northeast coast of England.


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