Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Sea glass, beach glass, ocean glass - an amazing find for beach combers all over the world. It's so romantic to imagine glass accidentally falling into an ocean or lake, gently tumbled by water, sand, salt and time, then finally transformed into a beautiful smooth beach treasure.  Once collected it is seen in jewelry, mosaics, vases and scattered in gardens and on table tops......

What do you do, if you want beach glass, don't live near a shore or have the time to spend collecting it? Read on for DIY - Make Your Own Sea Glass from: StellaErwins.etsy.com.

Broken glass, by accident, smashed intentionally or (my worst nightmare), shipped vintage pieces arrive shattered, can be frustrating and heart breaking.  But the life of a broken piece of glass does NOT have to end in the landfill.  Let's tumble!!

The tumbled glass shown above is from vintage glass light shades that were broken during shipment. (Check back for Stella's Shipping Glass Properly article - coming soon.)

It is so easy to make your own beach glass, but you do need a few things.  A rock or glass tumbler is the most important and a bit of an investment.  After researching brands and reading reviews, I settled on a Lortone with dual drums.  I was able to find the right one for my usage for about $120, including shipping, on Amazon.  Am pleased with the performance even after 1000s of hours.
my faithful partner in tumbling
Once you decide to make the tumbler plunge, the fun part begins.  Here's what you will need:

  • Glass
  • Hammer
  • Paper or thick nylon bags - the denser the better. 
  • Sand
  • Water
Bag selection is important and the bag in this photo is my nylon bag of choice.  Actually you will need two of these.

*****Commercial break. I have a lot of bird feeders and this 35lb mix of seed from Tractor Supply is $9.99.  It is a lovely mix of small seeds, sunflower seeds and a little bit of corn. By far the best value I have found. ******

You can also use multiple brown grocery bags, pet food bags, Sephora bags, or anything thick and roomy that you have 2 or 3 of. 

Step 1 - fill your bag about 1/4-1/3 full with glass.  Fold it over once or twice.  Put that bag in another bag and fold it over.  PUT ON YOUR SAFETY GLASSES.

Step 2 - take your hammer and smash the bag multiple times.  Flip the bag over and sling that hammer some more.  (I told you this was fun.)

Step 3 -  Start unfolding the bags and carefully remove the outer bag.  At this point, I pour the glass into a deep plastic container with a lid.  Dispose of the bags, which will have some glass shards inside.  

Your glass pieces are ready for tumbling.

Fill the drum of your tumbler about 1/2 way with sand.  (It's about 300 miles from my house to the beach or about 2 miles to Home Depot where play sand is less that $5 for 50 lbs.)  Put as much glass as you want leaving enough room at the top to close the drum.  I pack mine pretty full.  Fill the remainder of the drum with water, close the drum per tumbler instructions.  Place drum on tumbler, plug it in and let it run for about 2 days.  Once it's done, rinse the glass and voila, you now have repurposed glass, tumbled and ready to use. 

Couple of tips 
  • Put the tumbler somewhere out of the way.  A garage is perfect.  
  • I have tumbled glass anywhere from 36 hours to 3 days and it comes out about the same. 
  • If your glass is painted, expect the sand to remove a lot of the paint.  Most of the glass will retain some color.  If the glass is colored through and through it won't lose much if any color.  
The red and dark pink glass in the photo below have color all the way through.  The light pink glass was painted on both sides and as you can see retained a lot of color.  The blue glass photo above is also glass from painted pieces.  

  • You can reuse the sand/water in the tumbler.  Just add more sand to the half way mark and repeat instructions above.  
What do you do with your hand tumbled sea glass?  I decorate with it, sell it to artists in bulk through Etsy and use the larger pieces to make glass wind chimes. A link to an earlier DIY article about making those chimes follows. (http://stellaerwins.blogspot.com/2014/08/diy-glass-wind-chimes-stellaerwins.html).  

The next link will take you to the tumbled glass section of my Etsy shop, if you want to see some more examples.  All glass was tumbled by the method above in the tumbler shown in this article.  

Good luck.  

Julie Jansen
Stella Erwin's


  1. I think the use of glass to create a home decor items. Glass can be decorated any items.

  2. thanks so much for visiting, reading and commenting. you are right - glass can be used to decorate many items.