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The hobby of sea glass collecting has grown over the years with some collectors becoming serious and devoted business people.
The sea glass jewelry business is really establishing itself with the most beautiful pieces of jewelry being crafted using the very best of the treasures being found on our beaches.
Unique crafts are being created and homes decorated with sea glass and other beach combing treasures found.
The sea glass glossary of key terms has grown to include a specific glossary from A to Z of words that collectors now use as language between each other.
On this page you will find a glossary list of words that have been selected as being those used constantly within the sea glass community. There are always new words being discovered and these will be added when discovered. In the meantime, check out the words below. There are sure to be new ones that you may have read but not understood. It was fun finding some of the more unusual ones as their meaning is fascinating.
This is a pretty long list. It has been divided up into sections that will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. Just click on the section and it will take you to the word.
Beachcombing is the art of 'combing' the beach and tide lines looking for anything of value to the beachcomber. Usually shells, driftwood, sea glass, sea pottery and other nautical items of interest are collected to use for art and craft projects, home decor and jewelry making.
A beachcomber is a person who participates in the activity of beachcombing.
Beach glass is found on the shores of very large lakes. It is different to sea glass and its physical appearance is different due to the ph (acidic level) value of the water that has been forming it. Sea glass is found on the shores of salt water beaches.
An anchored float serving as a navigation mark, to show reefs or other hazards, or for mooring. These can be made of various materials such as wood, plastic, styrene, metal and glass.
Glass that has been burnt and molten in beach fires, tip fires, demolition fires and building fires sometimes carries residues of ash, metal, sand and other debris. It is a free form chunk of molten glass sometimes found on coastal beaches.
Carnival glass is moulded or pressed glass to which an iridescent surface shimmer has been applied. Carnival glass gets its iridescent sheen from the application of metallic salts while the glass is still hot from the pressing. A final firing of the glass brings out the iridescent properties of the salts, giving carnival glass the distinct shine it is known for.
A Codd-neck bottle is a type of bottle used for carbonated drinks. It has a closing design based on a glass marble which is held against a rubber seal, which sits within a recess in the lip. Hence the terminology for a 'codd marble' This is an interesting little piece of Victoria, Australia, history of the Cohn Bros Codd-neck bottle mass produced from 1910 - 1940
Dating back to the 16th century, crackle glass is made by heating a glass form and dipping it into cold water whilst it is molten. This crackes the glass which is then reheated and formed into what it needs to be, a vase, a bowl etc. On the outside you can feel the cracks but on the inside it is smooth.
Man made or manufactured glass that has been tumbled in a rock tumbler. It is often sold as genuine sea glass but it is fake. The finish on the surface is not pitted or frosted as the real sea glass specimen. Be aware and cautious of imitations. Usually sold in bulk as supplies for crafting projects.
Cranberry glass or 'Gold Ruby' glass is a red glass made by adding gold salts or colloidal gold to molten glass. Tin, in the form of stannous chloride, is sometimes added in tiny amounts as a reducing agent. Frequently used for wine glasses, decanters, and finger bowls.
Natural sea glass will usually have a frosty, almost powdery texture on its surface. One of the most reliable indicators for natural sea glass is a "C" shaped design all over the outside of the sample. This is caused during the weathering of the glass as it is rolled, tossed and abrased by the seawater, stones, shells and sand action.
Depression glass is clear or colored translucent machine made glassware that was distributed free, or at low cost, in the United States and Canada around the time of the Great Depression. Depression glass is called such because collectors generally associate mass-produced glassware found in pink, yellow, crystal, or green with the years surrounding the Great Depression in America. ( Schroy, Ellen (2013). Depression Glass:Field Guide. Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-4402-3456-9.)
Naturally produced pit like indent in a piece of sea glass, usually used when discussing sea glass heart shapes.
The movement of ocean currents can be traced by using drift bottles or drift cards. Drift cards have been released from various locations around Australia, and off South Africa since about 1969. These can sometimes be found on southern shore beaches. If you do find one, please get in touch with the department, shown on the card.
Driftwood is wood that has been washed onto a shore or beach of a sea, lake, or river by the action of winds, tides or waves. It is a form of marine debris or tidewrack. Collected and used in arts and crafts creations as well as home decor.
The top part of a glass item, usually part of a bottle stopper, often formed to be a decorative feature. Used on bedposts, curtain rails, batons and lamps.
Glass with vibrant layers of color. This is done by placing a piece of melted glass of one color into another piece of melted glass of a different color and then blowing the glass.
A piece of sea glass found well exposed; easy to see if looking. Usually found above the waterline where it has been deposited during tidal movement.
Float glass is a sheet of glass made by floating molten glass on a bed of molten metal, typically tin, although lead and other various low-melting-point alloys were used in the past. This method gives the sheet uniform thickness and very flat surfaces. Modern windows are made from float glass. ( "Step-by-step Manufacturing of Float Glass". Pilkington. Retrieved 18 July 2017.) ( Pilkington, L. A. B. (1969). "Review Lecture. The Float Glass Process". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The Royal Society. 314 (1516): 1–25. doi:10.1098/rspa.1969.0212. JSTOR 2416528.)
Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Used in conjunction with Jetsam - debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load.
Erosion on the surface of sea glass caused by the action of salt water, stones, seashells and sand.
Lightning also has the power to make glass. When lightning strikes the ground, it fuses sand in the soil into tubes of glass called fulgurites. When a bolt of lightning strikes a sandy surface, the electricity can melt the sand.
Throughout the world glass floats were once used to keep fishing nets afloat. Large nets with these attached were left to drift in the ocean. They are no longer being used however many of the glass floats drift on the sea waters and some find their way to shore to be collected by lucky beachcombers!
The term used for the 'frosting' on the surface of glass. The soda and lime in the glass is said to be leached out and combine with other elements to create small cryslals on the surface. This process is slow and takes quite a few years. Hence another way of identifying genuine from fake sea glass
The term kick-up, or push-up, comes from the early days of bottle making when glassblowers physically pushed upwards in the center part of the bottom of a bottle while the glass was still in a molten state. Sea glass collectors are usually finding the bottom end of a bottle that has this feature, another term used being 'mamelon'.
It is used to strengthen the bottle bottom and add to its stability
3 times in Summer and 3 times in Winter, the tides are at their highest. These tides bring treasures to the foreshore and make for excellent collecting times for sea glass and driftwood. Sometimes also termed a Perigee Tide
Earthenware, or clay, marbles were the most commonly manufactured marble at one time.
Researching the history of the glass marble unearths some interesting facts. Some folk seem to think that marbles found on the sea shore these days have come from ballast that was used on ships, however it's more likely that these marbles have come from dumps or tips that have been close to the shoreline. Some samples originate from children's toy marbles and these could have possibly been left behind by them at the seaside.
Other sources for marbles may include railroads close to shore. Even in modern times, shooter-sized marbles are used along with the stones under tracks as a cushion when the trains roll over them.
It is, however, well known that marbles were used with an early form of bottle produced between the late 1800s and early 1900s. The marble was used as a form of stopper. The strange looking pinched neck of the bottle holds the marble in place while the person drinks, but prevents spilling of the contents if inverted.
The push up in the center of the bottom of a bottle helping it to remain upright and stable. Usually formed using a metal rod.
Milk glass is an opaque or translucent, milk white or colored glass that can be blown or pressed into a wide variety of shapes. First made in Venice in the 16th century, colors include blue, pink, yellow, brown, black, and white.
Glass that consists of multiple colors layered upon each other. Often found on the shores of Sheaham due to the amount of Victorian era leftover glass dumped into the sea from the now non existent Sheaham Bottle Company - closed in 1921
Knob like protrusion feature on glassware, sometimes seen on the inside of glass floats.
An acquired change of a surface through age and exposure - weathering. As regards sea glass, the exposure to the elements creates a frosted patina and pitting. The word 'Opalescence' (the visual property of something having a milky brightness and a play of colors from the surface) is sometimes used as well to describe the visual look of a piece of sea glass.
A pontil mark or punt mark is the scar where the pontil, punty or punt was broken from a work of blown glass. The presence of such a scar indicates that a glass bottle or bowl was blown freehand, while the absence of a punt mark suggests either that the mark has been obliterated or that the work was mold-blown.
In areas with metal debris in the water, it can be common for the rust from those objects to affect the water and glass. Pieces will appear colored when they are in fact just stained by decades of exposure to rust. Usually found around ship wrecks with plenty of metal components.
Sea glass is any glass that has eventually found its way to the sea. Here it is broken up into glass shards and with a combination of surf, sand and stone is weathered into a naturally tumbled, smoothed and frosted genuine of sea glass treasures.
Jewelry is often made with glass beads and some remnants may find their way onshore. A sea glass bead will usually be rounded with a hole bored through its middle
Terminology combining two words, seaglass and spelunking (the sport of walking and climbing in caves) - another word for sea glass collecting or 'stooping' as I like to call it.
Seaweed is a plant that grows in the sea. Sometimes ending up on the shoreline and is the perfect catchment area to fins sea glass and sea pottery shards
Seeded sea glass is any glass that was purposefully thrown into the ocean to be discovered later by sea glass hunters - hence the terminology, seeding. There is a lot of controversy as to whether what arrives back on shore can be classified as genuine sea glass as it doesn't carry the history that genuine old sea glass pieces do. Then again in 100 years or so, the seeded glass will definitely have some history attributed to it.
The stem of a bottle stopper
When discussing what one finds on the foreshore, a shell is a hard rigid usually largely calcareous covering or support of an animal. Most shells found on the sandy seashore are devoid of any animal. The occupant has discarded its house and moved on to another one, either that or it has been eaten out of house and home!
Silica is a hard, unreactive, colourless compound which occurs as the mineral quartz and as a principal constituent of sandstone and other rocks. Amongst its other uses, it is used in the manufacture of glass
Opaque pressed glass with colored streaks usually produced by adding slag from iron works. Slag glass was often used in lampshade production as well as for crafting many different types of decorative objects.
Colors range from purple, blue, green, brown, yellow and orange and all with a marbling effect swilling through the glass.
A line, especially of washed-up seaweed or other debris, marking a previous high water level along a shore.
A piece of sea glass found and examined and found that it isn’t worth keeping. Throwing it back into the ocean can be a good decision as it can mean that the piece will receive more weathering.
Pottery or ceramic ware decorated with transfers.
Sometimes glass was made using fluorescent materials. If you shine a black light on them, they will glow a bright green, orange, red, purple, or yellow color. These are known as fluorescent or ultraviolet glass, or simply UV glass.
Uranium is the most common ingredient in UV glass. Vaseline glass, or Canary Glass, is a yellow-green glass mainly produced for tableware and household items from around 1840 up until World War II. Uranium Dioxide was used to create the color. The uranium in Vaseline glass gives it the glass its bright-green color in natural light, and causes the glass to glow vivid neon green under a black light.
Manganese produces glass in a range of colors from violet and green to yellow and orange. Reddish orange manganese glass is sometimes called “persimmon glass.” Manganese Dioxide (MnO2) was also used to decolorize glass containing iron impurities, or to stabilize the color of glass so it wouldn’t shift over time. Glass that contains manganese glows green, red, orange, or peach under black light.
The highest point where the high tide will carry debris. It is usually where you will find a line of seaweed left behind and if you are lucky some hidden treasures.
If you know of any words that need to be included in this glossary and index, please let me know here.
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