If you have ever been walking the beach and found a piece of sea glass you know how beautiful it can be. Sea glass was made when someone, a long time ago, tossed something glass into the ocean, and over the years of it rolling around in the sand and surf it finally found its way onto shore. What was shards of broken glass at one time in history is now a smooth piece of frosted glass. I am not patient enough to throw glass into the ocean and wait for a decade or so for more sea glass, so I make imitation sea glass my self.
To make faux sea glass you will need:
1- a bunch of broken glass
2- a rock tumbler
3- grit (silicone carbide works best)
5- a little patience
Step 1: Get a Bunch of Broken Colorful and Clear Glass.
Making faux sea is easy as long as you have a little patience. Start with a bunch of broken glass. I tend to like using older glass bottles, they were colorful and the glass was thicker than current bottles. I pick them up at flea markets and yard sales. If you can't find old glass then champagne bottles work well since the are generally colored and the glass is thicker than wine bottles. I break them up in a bucket with a hammer, and then I keep a bucket of broken glass around ready for my next project. You want large and small pieces, especially since when you are done the glass will be smaller than when you started.
Step 2: You Will Need a Rock Tumbler, and Silicone Carbide Grit
Rock tumblers are easy to purchase and not very expensive, I have two of them a single barrel and a double barrel, you can purchase them from many hobby shops, on line, and even at Harbor Freight Tools. Silicon Carbide grit is available any place that ruck tumblers are available. It comes in multiple grades. For making sea glass I only use the coarse grit since I want the glass to keep the frosted look. If you want a polished look to your glass then you need to repeat the tumbling process with finer grits until it is polished to you liking.
Step 3: Prepare to Tumble
You want to fill your tumbler barrel about 2/3 of the way full with your broken glass. Then add tap water just until the glass is covered. I add two tablespoons of course grit into my tumbler barrel. It took me a few tries to get the right amount of grit to glass for my tumblers. Too much grit and your glass doesn't tumble properly it just sits in a paste of grit and water, while too little grit causes your tumbler to spin for a long time before your glass is ready.
Step 4: Tumble and Wait
Seal your barrel, place it on your tumbler, turn on your rock tumbler and then wait, and wait, and wait a little longer. You want to find a space away from your living and sleeping spaces since it is a little noisy, a garage or basement or even an empty room will work, I live in a small apartment so I tumble out on my deck in a closed storage shed so that the weather doesn't effect my tumbler. Electronic machinery and rain or snow tend not to react well together. (I brought my tumbler out of the shed for pictures since it is dark in there.) You want to let your glass tumble for 7 days. You can look at the tumbler to make sure there are no leaks, and that your seal is good, but just let it go for a week.
If you are getting a leak or your seal is slipping stop the tumble tighten the seal on your barrel and put it back and let it tumble.some more.
Step 5: Rinse the Glass
After a week your barrel will be full of tumbled glass and a paste like substance from the grit and water. I take a portion of my glass from the tumbler, and put in a a small screen strainer, (don't use the one you use in the kitchen and expect to use it for food again) Then you need to rinse your glass to remove all of the grit from the glass. If you can do this outside, it is better, you really don't want to get too much grit in your sink drain since it can clog your drain.
Step 6: Dry the Glass
Find a place where you can let the glass sit out for a day or so to dry. I like to put mine on a towel of some sort and leave it alone. You will see that the glass now is not sharp, it has rounded edges and a frosted look, just like real sea glass.
There are sea glass collectors out there, so don't try to pass it off as real sea glass they will know, make sure to always let people know that it is faux sea glass.
Step 7: What You Will Have When You Are Done.
When you are done you will have a pile of glass that you can use in many projects. The larger pieces works great in mosaics, especially rounded items like flower pots or bowls, since many of the glass pieces will have a curve in them from the original shape of the bottle. the smaller pieces I use with a wire wrap to make jewelry like pendents and earrings.
you are limited only by your imagination with what you can do with this glass. I know people who use it in aquariums, or in a glass bowl as a decoration or part of a center piece.
I hope you have fun making faux sea glass. and if you like this project vote for me in the Faux-Real contest.