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Make Sea Glass Jewelry

Make Sea Glass Jewelry - How you can make sea glass or beach glass jewelry.

Information on the most used techniques...

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Linda Schneider foto Make sea glass jewelry
Lin Schneider
Make Sea Glass Jewelry: About Sea Glass Jewelry and Processes to Make It   Sea Glass is beautiful unadorned. However, to be able to wear your favorite piece, there must be a way to attach (hang or clamp) it to your clothes or body. So when you make sea glass jewelry, you need to consider the ways of doing this. 

Four methods of doing this are described here:

1. Drilled Sea Glass Jewelry

Drilling sea glass is probably the most basic way to make sea glass jewelry that can be attached (hung) using a solid piece of seaglass. Once it's drilled, you can simply string it on a cord or necklace using an attractive wire bail to attach it to the necklace or earring or even a simple jump ring.

Pros: Once the glass is drilled, it's a fast and easy way to make nice sea glass jewelry.

Sea glass will crack sometimes with drilling.  

Drilling ruins the intrinsic value of a good piece of sea glass! 

For these two reasons, drilling is recommended ONLY for your less valuable pieces.

Another drawback is the cost of purchasing a drill and learning the technique of drilling glass. Caution must be used, as the drill can easily slip and drill through a finger. Click here for more info on drills and drilling glass.

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2. Wire Wrapped Sea Glass Jewelry

Wire wrapping is probably the most commonly used way to mount sea glass jewelry. Depending on your taste, it can be very spare or as ornate as one would like. It results in a very attractive setting that emphasizes rather than detracts from the sea glass.

Earrings made from Sea Glass using WigJig jewlery tools and jewelry wire.
See a free tutorial on how to wire wrap irregular stone or sea glass.

Pros: Only a relatively small number of tools are needed to begin. Technical skills are not required to the extent needed in some of the other methods.

Inexpensive materials such as copper or bronze can be used effectively as well as more expensive silver or gold to make sea glass jewelry.

One of the advantages is that this method PRESERVES the value of the sea glass. It can be taken apart and stored in a collection, if desired. This is important, as, with time, the sea glass may end up being worth much more than its setting.

Cons: Coming up with a design that's unique and graceful but that still HOLDS the sea glass firmly despite the wear and tear on wearable jewelry is a challenge. For that reason, a valued piece of sea glass could fall out and become LOST very easily if not done correctly.

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3.  Bezeled Sea Glass Jewelry

Bezeling is another common way to make sea glass jewelry. Bezeling is used in making settings for stones, ceramic, or glass in rings or pendants. The piece is circled and hugged by a flattened wire rim (usually silver) which itself is soldered to a backing of a thin sheet of the same metal. This works well with many of the pieces of flat sea glass.

Pros: Although not for total beginners, the process can be learned and outlay for equipment is not outrageous. There's not much design skill needed to make an nice bezel, only the technique, but bezeling does set off the sea glass very nicely. It is a good technique to use to make sea glass jewelry.

Cons: Basic-to-intermediate metalsmithing skills are needed, especially in dealing with fine detail in soldering the ends of the bezel and the backing.

Care must be taken when folding or molding the bezel around the edges of the glass.

Fine jewelry tools are needed to do a good job.

Are you looking for instructions on making your own jewelry or selling the handmade stuff you make?

We recommend checking out Chrisitne Gierer's jewelry making website, How-to-Make-Jewelry.com, and her Jewelry Business Blog - Handmade Results.

Christine's awesome, and you'll love what you find on her sites...

4. PMC (Precious Metal Clay) 

This is one of the lesser-known but growing in popularity mediums for fine art, including sea glass jewelry settings.  

Metal clay really is a clay - the difference being that the solid particles in it are your choice of silver or gold. These powder-like metal particles are held together with a binder and water. 

The end result after firing with a torch or kiln is a very pure precious metal setting for your sea glass jewelry - for example, between 92% - 99.9% pure silver or 22K gold.

Pros: It's easy to work with in designing settings as simple or as intricate as you would like. Since this is clay, you can form it just about any way you want.  You can mold it, hand shape it, cut it with something like a cookie cutter, thin it down, et cetera. 

A benefit of using this process to make sea glass jewelry is that the design ideas are practically unlimited.

Cons :Probably the major drawback in using precious metal clay is that there is approximately a 12-28% shrinkage that you have to allow for during firing. Experimentation will eventually produce some really fine results. 

Initial outlay for materials is relatively expensive. 

Another drawback in using precious metal clay for making jewelry with sea glass is that the sea glass should not be fired, since it may crack; and, if it doesn't crack, you do run the risk of the color of the glass changing.

So you're limited somewhat to designing a setting that can be first made, then fired, and then the glass inserted. Some have done this with glass by forming a setting with prongs which can be then bent around the sea glass once it has set. Using the prongs technique might be the best approach when first using the PMC technique to make sea glass jewelry.

Finally, at least a torch, but better a kiln, is needed to fire the clay. However, there is often an art workshop in the area that rents space in their kilns for a marginal price.

For more information, see Working with Precious Metal Clay.

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Check out the great ideas on these pages:

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Sticks and Stones: How to make Stunning Objects using Natural Materials

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Lin and I did it!  So can YOU!

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