For whatever reason, you have some ugly lamps and light fixtures in your home. However, you are well aware of the damage that is happening to our earth with all the garbage that is thrown in the dumps all over the country. We can take those ugly light fixtures and make an amazing work of art that everyone is jealous of. Be green and an interior designer too !
What is sea glass ?
All the glass and bottles that are tossed into the lakes, seas, and oceans can remain in the waters for decades. Over the years, whether it is a glass bottle, a drinking glass or another type of glass that has been discarded into the lakes or oceans, break into smaller pieces. These smaller pieces then toss and turn, tumble over rocks, sand and through the heavy turbulence of waves. This, in turn, smooths out the glass edges and gives the broken pieces a frosted look.
As you take that daily stroll along the water’s edge, you will see big and little pieces of this glass. We call them sea glass. To some, yes it is garbage, to others with an imagination, a trained eye and some capability and talent, these broken pieces of glass are gorgeous and more than worth picking up.
There are many items you can make with sea glass. Some of these require very little work or imagination, while other items need a trained eye to picture what that little piece of glass, and it’s sisters and brothers that you collect, can be turned into a breathtaking work of art, someone’s most treasured belonging or even used to design a light fixture. Let’s focus on that for now.
Light fixtures are an item that you can easily visit a department store and purchase at any time. However, there is no meaning, no love, no excitement in a store bought fixture.
Making light fixtures using sea glass is not as complicated as you would imagine. They definitely are not expensive to make. For those who love the look of certain name brand light fixtures, we will show you how to go about making your own style of light fixture to replicate the heavily priced versions.
The first suggestion is to visit your local thrift stores and shop for cheap and ugly light fixtures. Yes, ugly! You are going to take that ugly duckling home and turn it into a beautiful swan. I also suggest visiting the local lakes or oceans where you live. Take a nice long walk while staring down at the sand. Along the way, pick up each piece of glass you come across. Every piece. Then, on your way home, stop and pick up some glue, preferably clear glue. There is a brand in stores specifically labeled glass glue. I get my glue from Amazon and recommend this one right here. This glue is waterproof and heat resistant. You do need the heat resistance when using for a light fixture.
Many sea glass artists choose to leave the sea glass unpolished. Others choose to polish their pieces. Polishing the sea glass is actually very easy. All you do is mix dish soap into a bowl of water, set the pieces into the water and let soak for roughly two hours. Using a toothbrush, scrub the sea glass while in the water. It is going to take extra time to get into the crevices with the toothbrush. Using a strainer, put all the pieces into the strainer and rinse well with cold water. It will help to actually pick up the pieces one by one and rinse and check for dirt still in crevices. After rinsing, place the sea glass onto a tumbler to dry.
When dry, place the sea glass into a rock tumbler like this one here along with Silicon Carbide or Aluminum Oxide grit. It will help to add cornmeal to the tumbler. This will act as a cushion between the grit and the glass. Check on the glass every twelve hours or until the desired polish has been achieved. If you choose, there is another method to polish your sea glass pieces. You can put a drop of baby oil in the center of a paper towel and gently wipe each piece with the baby oil.
Now the time has come to do the fun part. After you have cleaned the light fixtures you picked up from thrift stores, be sure to dry it well. Be sure also to have a plan in mind for each light fixture. It may be beneficial to make a rough drawing for each fixture, then lay out the glass pieces in your design. It will be easier than second guessing yourself or finding that you made a mistake halfway through and need to start all over again. Seriously, if you have the drawing, then you can lay out the glass pieces in the order and color scheme that you want.
Now take your light fixture and put glue onto one area at a time. Carefully place your colored pieces where you want in that section. Some choose to let each section dry before moving onto the next. Either way, continue section by section with the glue and then glass.
Of course, I would not let this article end there. There are other ways that you can create a beautiful light fixture using sea glass. It is a bit more difficult, but just as pleasing if not more so. In the following method, all you need is a basic frame for a light fixture. We will then turn our sea glass into strands of shiny opulence.
Let’s gather the necessary tools first. You will need a Sturdy clear fishing line or similar line. The basic frame with the electric cord and bulb fixture. You can choose to use metal or wood, whatever you choose. Be very green and collect some sturdy twigs, the vines that grow from the tops of trees downward work great, (think of Tarzan singing through the trees). A Dremel with a drill bit like these shown here or any type that you use to make your jewelry will work. Diamond drill bits are the only bits for drilling glass, with little if any splicing of the glass.
For the jittery souls like me out there, I recommend a drill that you can control via the foot pedal. That way, if your glass slips and starts to slide and makes you jump, your foot will come off the pedal, therefore saving you from a strange and unfortunate accident with the drill and your hair, or other items too close to the drill. Safety speaks wonders, be safe and not sorry!
If you have a smaller version of a vise grip, that would be ideal to hold your piece of glass while you drill your hole through it. These are often called hand pin vise grip tool. Place your piece of sea glass into the grip pin and line up where you want the hole. Slowly begin drilling and finish the holes in all your sea glass pieces. Now it is the time to begin stringing the sea glass pieces. When stringing, again, be sure that you have a plan set out before you begin.
When you know ahead of time how many pieces of sea glass you want on each string, and how many strings you want in total, allows you to complete a project with no issues of being short a few sea glass pieces, or not having enough string cut. As you add a piece of sea glass on the string, be sure to make a knot to hold the sea glass in place. You will want to do this for each piece of glass that you add on each string. So if you have chosen to make a hanging string with six pieces of sea glass, you will need to put a knot under each of those six pieces.
Now we want to take the framing that we chose. This would be a fixture with the bulb components and electrical cord attached. It may be a plain round metal circle with cross bars to hold the bulb fixture. Let’s say this circle is a 12 inch diameter, you will want to space out your hanging sea glass into equal spacing. However, if you were to string enough sea glass in close enough strings, it will make a very shiny light fixture. By filling the string with sea glass, there will be no bare spots. Since glass is a reflector for light, the light will be increased.
Another form of light we can create involves a string of clear LED lights, as in Christmas light strings. By utilizing the string of lights, you only need to attach the sea glass to each LED bulb. This will be done by using your Dremel to drill a hole large enough to fit over the bulb. Using a glue that is specially made for gluing glass like this brand that I use, you can glue the sea glass to the element casing, This is a fabulous idea for lights across a room.
While you are at your local thrift store, look for some plain globes for lights. As before, you can glue your pieces of sea glass onto the globe in all one color, create a design or a picture of basically anything, say a dragonfly.
Also, a great idea is to find votive cups for candles. Or even electric lights. These can be fun to decorate with sea glass in multiple colors. The sea glass throws off a light reflection in the many colors you use.
An idea that is free of electric or even batteries is to utilize the sun light. For this, you will need to purchase some plain solar lights. The shape will not matter, you will be covering them in sea glass pieces. The sun creates the power of light for you and will allow for a gorgeous patio, deck or outdoor seating area filled with beautiful pieces of art. As night begins to fall, your creative sea glass lights will start to shine.
The next idea is not technically a light fixture, however, once you adhere sea glass to the surrounding, you will have an impressive fireplace surround. Again, I suggest planning ahead. Be sure you have the amount of sea glass that you need to cover the desired area. Have a picture or drawing at the ready so you know which color will go where. Work in sections so that your glass glue does not dry out. There you have it. It will reflect light from each and every fire you have in your fireplace.
We all have at least one plain lamp at home. It is simple and has a plain colored lamp shade. If you want to add a splash of color to it, adhere sea glass right onto the lampshade. Yes, it will stick to the material type of lamp shade. I have used sea glass and glass glue to cover a glass shade on a small three way light I have in my bedroom. It turned out fabulous! I did not use a drawing, I just placed different colors all over the glass and let it dry well before using the light.
If you are out at the thrift store or hitting up the local garage sales, keep an eye out for chandeliers. Yes, any type of chandelier can work. If there are crystal tear drops, replace those with sea glass. Even just a few pieces of sea glass can make a world of difference on a light.
Adhering the sea glass does not have to be just on the lamp shade itself. You can use sea glass to decorate a glass light. Especially beautiful is if you can locate a clear glass base. Cover that with different colors of sea glass and watch the beauty appear in front of your eyes.
Lest I forget, when you have attached all your sea glass to the lamp shade, light base, votive cups or fireplace surround, consider putting a grout all over between the glass pieces and wipe off the sea glass so your grout does not harden on it. When that is fully dry, purchase a can or two of sealer, or use a coat or two of polyurethane to cover it all and protect the sea glass. Not only is it added protection, but it also ensures that no pieces will come unattached.
On your outdoor fixtures that you covered with sea glass, use a thin set bonding mortar, as this is moisture resistant. The final coating of sealant, you should always consider a high quality sealer.
What is the main point of this whole article? Well, simply that you can trash that may have been thrown in the ocean decades ago and turn it into something fabulous, something that every friend will be envious of. The world of art and broken glass collides and you see art, make it happen. The art of adhering sea glass to a base of some sort, whether it is glass, wood or material, is not a complicated process. It does not take forever to create this work of art and it does not involve a lot of money. Take a walk along the ocean, beach or lake. Keep your eyes open and you will be amazed at what you find.
With the treasure that you locate, you can re-purpose an old lamp, light fixture or any one of a number of things. Do not forget the votive cups for candles. The will also reflect this gorgeous light once the art is created.
I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new. If you did, can you please do me a favor ? Please share this post on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks so much ! 🙂