Shetland Sea Glass - A Myriad of Treasures

Shetland Sea Glass - A Myriad of Treasures

Sea glass, often referred to as "ocean gems," holds a mystique that captivates beachcombers and artists alike. Each shard tells a story of its own, a tale of transformation from discarded waste to a treasured gem.

My fascination with sea glass began at a young age, wandering the shores of Shetland and Orkney, collecting fragments of colour that had been sculpted by the relentless churning of the waves. Sea glass is often the result of broken bottles, tableware, or items from shipwrecks. I once found a red piece that turned out to be a fragment of a vintage car's headlamp. The transformation of glass into smooth gems is a gradual process involving the relentless churning of waves and abrasion from rocks and sand along the shoreline. It can take years, or even decades, for sea glass to develop its distinctive smoothness and lose all rough edges, depending on the tidal conditions.

The beaches of Shetland offer a myriad of treasures; each offering a unique assortment of stones determined by its geology, ranging from sand to shells, stones, or boulders. The variety of textures influences the size, shape, and availability of sea glass; some beaches yield larger pieces while others only have small fragments. When searching for sea glass for my artwork, I choose a beach based on the specific sizes of pieces I require.

For example, when I needed small pieces for a recent project - like creating earrings - I visited Sandsayre in Sandwick where I could find the right size of sea glass. It's worth noting that sea glass is considered discarded human waste, which means it can be freely collected from beaches throughout the UK.

As a collector and artist, I meticulously sort through my collection, cleaning each piece with care in warm, soapy water before arranging them by colour. I place a special emphasis on preserving the natural beauty of sea glass, opting for a subtle polish with a touch of coconut oil to enhance their colours without losing their natural charm. For drilling holes into the glass for items like keyrings, buttons, and jewellery, I use a diamond drill bit. From earrings to keyrings, each piece of sea glass is transformed into a wearable work of art.

As I've collected sea glass over the years, I've become more particular about the colours I keep. While white, green, and brown are the most common, I love finding blues, and I am occasionally lucky enough to come across pink, yellow, or red shades.

In a bid to further establish my brand, I have embarked on the journey of trademarking my logos - Sarah Kay Arts and Island Sea Glass. I am passionate about establishing a unique and recognizable identity for my artwork, partially now it is stocked in various outlets across the UK. 

As I continue to explore the shores, searching for these forgotten gems, I am continuously reminded about nature's ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. 

You are welcome to view my artwork made with sea glass gathered from the beaches of Shetland by clicking here.

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