Friday, November 6, 2009

Lake Superior Beach Glass

Yes, this is the real deal. Beach glass found on the shores of Lake Superior. As an avid sea kayaker, I am privileged to be able to sidle up to places in the lake that regular boats (the kind that bring tourists!) cannot. Therefore, I often come upon a treasure of glass - usually on the rocky or cobble beaches. After the winter season or summer storms, there is generally a fresh 'crop' of glass in the places we frequent.

Beach glass, sometimes called "sea glass", is glass that has been tossed overboard, or dumped into the lake as garbage. This was done back in the day when the precious natural resource of Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake in the world) was not so carefully taken care of. A more romantic image is that the piece might be fine glassware from the dining room of a magnificent ship that met its demise on the rocky shores - shipwrecks being a once common occurrence on the Big Lake.

The glass pieces are washed ashore, tumbled by the wave action, and ground to smooth shapes. The most common color is white (which was clear glass), then green, brown and various shades of blue ranging from cobalt to pale turquoise. In the past, I have wire-wrapped pieces for pendants and earrings. Now I am interested in making wine glass charms for my paddler girlfriends, a nice reminder of paddling days while enjoying our holiday wine. My sister Anne has agreed to drill some pieces for me.

My prize piece of beach glass is a large brown circular chunk about 2 1/2" across that has faint raised letters O R O and part of an X. I figured it was maybe an old Clorox bottle. I sent an email to the company and received in return a complete history of their bottling and packaging practices - by year. As it turns out, this piece of brown glass is from a 1930's vintage bottle of Clorox bleach. I wire wrapped it it sterling for a very distinctive pendant. It is certainly a conversation piece!

When I wander the shorelines of Gitchee Gummee and find these rare gems, I find myself wondering what they once were - and how long they have been tossed about by the magnificent forces of Lake Superior. Kathy


  1. I found some nice beach glass on Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It's funny looking for it because you can get some exercise while looking for treasures. We got a lot in Mexico last Jan. tess

  2. Send them my way and I will drill them! Great post! Love it... Anner

  3. There's a lot of interest in sea glass these days! What is it? Where are the best beaches? What can I make with sea glass? Find out in our 250+ pages -

  4. Thanks for the info odysseyseaglass! We will check it out! :)

  5. We've got a favorite beachcombing island at Sebago, Ruffle Bar. There used to be a resort there & there are all kinds of interested old bottles & crockery in the sand.

    I thought a 1960's pepsi bottle was amazing the first time I went, but my best bottle now is the one at the end of this post.

    PS - How is it that I just now figured out that you have a blog too?

    Bonnie from Brooklyn

  6. Bonnie - great to hear from you - and hope to see you out in New York soon!