Sea glass – a new crafty venture….

A bag of sea glass collected over numerous dog walks in Northumberland, Cumbria, Lancashire, and Devon during the past year or so, and a brand new (and half price) Combi Tool (Aldi version of a Dremel) with newly acquired diamond tipped drilling bits, and I’m all set to have a go at making some sea glass jewellery and knick knacks.

Have researched how to drill holes (hence the new drill bits), got a bowl of water ready and about to have a go.

If it works, the next step is how to polish it up to show the glass off at it’s best. Need to soak in disinfectant and washing soda crystals to give it a good clean, and then the link below gives details of how to oil it.

How to Polish Seaglass to Remove Salt.

[The next day…]

I managed to succeed in drilling holes in sea glass, but have flattened the point of one of the new diamond drill bits in the process, and have realised that it’s not a quick 2 minute job, in fact more like 10 mins per hole. It’s not an easy task, holding the piece of glass still under water, rocking the bowl slightly to wash away the debris so that you can see what you are doing, keeping the hole true without letting the drill bit wander or suddenly drift off resulting in scratching and a wide necked hole.

A reasonable first attempt at drilling sea glass using a diamond tip drill bit and rotary tool

A reasonable first attempt at drilling sea glass using a diamond tip drill bit and rotary tool

This will make a nice unique pendant for a beer drinker

This will make a nice unique pendant for a beer drinker

These pieces will be good for necklaces, punctuated by nice beads, either on a chain or a leather string

As ever, with craft work, it’s trial and error, with considerable error and steep learning curves, often damaging tools along the way, and having progress held up by having to stop what you are just getting into, in order to get online and research and order replacement tools or tool parts.

After about a dozen successful clean holes, the drill bit started to wander and drift, probably due to getting blunt, resulting in wider necked holes. Not necessarily a problem depending on what the sea glass is going to be used for.

After about a dozen successful clean holes, the drill bit started to wander and drift, probably due to getting blunt, resulting in wider necked holes. Not necessarily a problem depending on what the sea glass is going to be used for.

I thought I’d thoroughly cleaned the glass by soaking it and scrubbing it with washing soda crystals and washing up liquid (with disinfectant), but the photo above shows dirt in some of the pitting on the surface of the glass. So I need to give the sea glass a real good scrub with a small brush (maybe a toothbrush) and find some some of suitable cleaning agent (biological washing liquid maybe, together with more washing soda crystals?). It’s a shame I haven’t got access to a dishwasher as I bet that would bring them up beautifully clean.

During online research into crafting with sea glass, I read that oiling the glass (lavender oil or baby oil was suggested, I chose to use Tea Tree oil as I have a large bottle of it and it’s cheap and not greasy) brings up a shine, and helps remove dirt, so I did this last night with the above pieces, and I’m pretty sure that in 24 hours, the oil has either soaked into the glass or evaporated, as the pieces are not as shiny as they were. So may need to oil regularly to maintain shine. Or try a different oil.

I also realised several basic points in order to make life easier for myself… like choosing thinner pieces of glass for drilling, and leaving the thicker chunkier pieces for wrapping or possibly gluing (or some sort of hardening resin). The purchasing public will not consider that quarter of an hour’s drilling and the cost of a replacement drill bit is worth an extra few pounds on the price of the finished product.

So I have now have a pile of thinnish sea glass pieces ready for drilling and am going to be doing another batch of hole making later. I’m going to time myself to see how long each piece takes (on average) or how many pieces I can do in say half an hour. I need to do this in order to get a reasonable estimate of time taken to make something, so that I can cost in my time along with cost of materials, when I put a retail price on it. Until I’ve done that, and got a retail price which covers costs and overheads, including my labour, I won’t know if I can sell things at prices which people are prepared to pay. People will pay a mechanic £30 / hour labour plus parts, but they won’t pay that for handmade, unique items made using similar skills, but on a smaller more delicate scale.

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