How to make beach glass beaded jewelry

Beach glass is mother nature’s way of recycling our pollution into something beautiful and unique. The funky, smooth pieces of glass are made when someone tosses a glass bottle on the beach, and over time the action of water and sand erodes the glass into interesting shapes. Since glass is not as widely used today as it has been in the past and pollution is not as rampant, beach glass is getting harder to find.

But if you take a lot of long walks on the beach, you will be sure to find some treasures, which you can then make into jewelry. You also may be able to purchase bits of sea glass on your next beach (or even large lake) vacation (or order them off the Internet).

Beach glass pieces vary in color, shape and size. Not all of them are appropriate for making into jewelry, but with a little hunting you should be able to find pieces that suit your fancy and are of reasonable size to be used as jewelry.

Once you have collected your precious pieces of glass, you need to decide what kind of jewelry you want to make out of them. The simplest forms are necklaces and bracelets, but if you have two pieces that are similar in size (or if you are using manufactured beach glass, which is made by machine and thus much more uniform) you can make a simple pair of earrings.

If you’re shopping for glass online and wonder how you can tell if a piece is authentic, the price will probably tell you. If you find a rare color (pink, purple, blue) at a low price it’s likely the piece was made in a tumbler. If you are shopping for glass in person, authentic beach glass likely will have pockmarks in it, created by the sand, while manufactured glass will be perfectly smooth. Once put into a necklace, however, there is no difference in the way the light shines through, so if you don’t live near a beach and want to be kind to your budget, check out manufactured beach glass.

Beach glass is a little tricky to work with for jewelry making because it does not come with holes. Thus you have to design something to hold the glass in place on your piece. This is a great opportunity for you to get creative with wire wrapping. You can choose just about any kind of wire you like to wrap around your glass, and you can wrap it in many different ways.

The most basic would be to take a length of wire long enough to circle your piece of glass a couple of times, fold it in half, making a loop at the top, and twist the wire several times to make the loop secure. Then you can place this loop where you would like the top of your pendant to be and separate the two sides of the wire and wrap each side around a side of the glass and then bring them together at the bottom of the piece, thus securing three sides.

You could also keep the two pieces of wire together and just loop the wire down the length of the glass. Whatever way you devise to secure the piece, you might also want to hot glue the ends of the wire to the back of the piece so the wire will stay snug and the ends won’t poke you as you’re wearing the necklace.

It’s easy to see that a lot of variation is possible here. You could place a decorative bead at the top of your piece, just below the loop, before beginning to wrap the wire. You could use copper wire and make a sculpture around the piece and beyond (you could dangle a smaller piece of glass or another bead from the wire, creating a tiered effect).

You could string seed beads or charms onto the wire and place them around the focal piece of glass as you wrap the wire around (again, these could be secured with hot glue if you’d like them to stay in the same place). You could wrap the piece many times, with many different kinds of wire, or keep it simple, allowing the beauty of the bead itself to shine through. You can wrap in curves or crosses, a pattern, or a wild design like a spider’s web. The more you play with it, the more wonderful ideas you will have.

If you want to make your beach glass into a necklace pendant, all you have to do is prepare the bead as above and string it onto a purchased necklace chain (or you can make your own out of wire, making a hook in one end of the wire and a loop in the other for a closure). You can add other beads if you like, but the simple charm of a single pendant on a chain is hard to deny.

If you want to make a bracelet, you can make your pendant the same way if you don’t mind the piece not being completely secured to the bracelet. A better way is to wrap the piece in a similar fashion but put a loop on two ends of the piece instead of just one. That way you will be able to either slide it right on to a purchased bracelet chain (run both loops through the chain) or make a bracelet out of wire, cord or leather that is tied to each loop and either tied to close (remember you’ll need help putting on a bracelet that ties) or secured to a closure.

There is a wide variety of closures available but for this project, you will probably want something simple like a lobster clasp. Again, you can embellish this bracelet with more beads or tie decorative knots in the cording you use.

If you are making earrings, start with any kind of earring post that has a ring in it. You can find hoops, plains posts, or long hooks that have rings. Before you start wrapping the wire around the beach glass piece, thread the wire through the loop, then secure the loop in the wire and wrap the wire around the glass however you like.

You will probably want to start with simple designs because you’ll want your earrings to match and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to duplicate something too complex. When you are finished you can again glue the ends of the wire to the back of the glass, but remember that on an earring you will be able to see all sides so be very careful not to make a mess when you do this.

The possibilities for beach glass jewelry are almost endless. You can make an array of simple, stunning pieces in a variety of colors, and if you’re willing to use manufactured glass, it won’t cost you a lot of money. These pieces also allow you to explore your creative side and make great gifts (especially if you live near a beach and people are always wanting gifts from the seashore).

The possibilities

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