This is how Lake Erie looked last weekend when I was looking for sea glass. Menacing.
The good thing about all this wave action is that it brought up some nice pieces of glass.
Facts about Lake Erie: (From here)
LENGTH: 241 miles / 388 km
BREADTH: 57 miles / 92 km
AVERAGE DEPTH: 62 ft. / 19 m.
MAXIMUM DEPTH: 210 ft. / 64 m.
VOLUME: 116 cubic miles / 484 cubic km.
WATER SURFACE AREA: 9,910 sq. miles / 25,700 sq. km.
TOTAL DRAINAGE BASIN AREA: 30,140 sq. miles / 78,000 sq. km.
DRAINAGE BASIN AREA BY STATE/PROVINCE:
- Indiana: 1300 sq mi; 3300 sq km
Michigan: 5800 sq mi; 15,100 sq km
New York: 1600 sq mi; 4200 sq km
Ohio: 11,700 sq mi; 30,400 sq km
Ontario: 8800 sq mi; 22,800 sq km
Pennsylvania: 500 sq mi; 1400 sq km
SHORELINE LENGTH (including islands): 871 miles / 1,402 km.
ELEVATION: 569 ft. / 173 m.
OUTLET: Niagara River and Welland Canal
RETENTION/REPLACEMENT TIME: 2.6 years (shortest of the Great Lakes)
NAME: The greater part of its southern shore was at one time occupied by a nation known to the Iroquois League as the “Erielhonan,” or the “long-tails,” a tribe of Indians from which the lake derived its name. This name is always mentioned by the early French writers as meaning “cat”; Lac du Chat means “Lake of the Cat.” Many attribute this reference to the wild cat or panther.
References: Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995
So, we’re on the beach the other day and my husband hands over a black rock. Dear, I’m collecting sea glass, not rocks. Nice try. But it’s not a rock. It looks just like a rock, but it’s sorta purple? Hey wait! Honey! This is black sea glass! Do you know how rare this is? Do you know how old this is? How did you spot it?
I got the precious black mystery shard home but part of me wasn’t convinced that it was in fact glass. That is, until I held it up to the sunlight and saw an ever so faint blue glow. Definitely glass.
I had a burning desire to know where it came from. I was thinking it was at least from the 1700’s. I was thinking we snagged a real goodie.
Then I consulted the experts over at Sea Glass Lovers and found out what it was: Slag. That’s right slag. It sounds likes something you would call the lady who leaves her lipstick-smeared cigarette butts on your sidewalk. Something you would call the able-bodied guy who double parks his Mercedes in two handicapped parking spots at the grocery store.
But this wasn’t any old slag it was supposedly lightbulb slag.
According to one experienced sea glass junkie who is also on the shores of Lake Erie (on the U.S. side in Ohio), black amethyst glass slag comes from the furnaces of lightbulb manufacturing facilities.
Another avid ‘glasser’ named Emily also in Ohio, finds heaps of the stuff in an area where there was a former GE plant. The plant operated for seventy years before closing its doors last year.
Check out her haul for one day!
And guess what? It looks like a Turkish Delight inside! Look at that lovely amethyst glass!
The coolest thing about all this is that the beach where Emily found all the Turkish Delight is that it’s on the way to the North American Sea Glass Festival – which I happen to be attending! On the downside, some days the pieces are covered in sand and its slim pickins’. Hopefully, the slag gods will on my side on the day that I visit and I’ll come home with a bucket full of purple!
What happens when you come home with way too many ‘uncooked’ whites? You jam them into your Jack O’ Lantern’s mouth and make a nice set of pearly whites! I’m going to try the brown sea glass on my next one.
In high school, I sucked at chemistry. I remember having to memorize the periodic table in grade 10 or 11. Talk about drudgery! Twenty years later, I wish I would have paid more attention. Why?
If you really want to learn about sea glass, there’s chemistry involved. Take your average lavender piece of sea glass.
At one time that lavender piece of sea glass was probably as clear as a freshly squeegeed window. But time and sunlight changed all that. Purple set in.
Sun purple glass is created when UV rays from the sun react with the manganese in glass. Manganese? Is that some sort of mangled version of the Chinese language, you ask? Non!! What in the heck is manganese?
Manganese is a metal with important industrial metal alloy uses, particularly in stainless steels, says Wikipedia. The glass industry used Manganese from the 1860’s to 1915 as a clarifying agent. In fact, according to this website, manganese was often called “glassmakers’ soap” for its ability to counteract discoloration caused by iron and other impurities. At low concentrations, manganese removes the greenish tinge generated by the presence of iron; at higher concentrations, it is used to make violet-coloured glass.
So, if your collection of sea glass includes lavender, chance’s are it’s old glass. And guess what? You can make that lavender colour even richer by placing it in a sunny window. That’s where my lavender sea glass is right now. I will post before and after pics in a few months.
Photo: Christina Friedrichsen
It is 8 a.m. Saturday morning . Time for coffee.
Was someone sipping an ice cold Corona with a slice of lime on the beach? I do not know – but I love this piece! My daughter found it this summer on Lake Erie. I think it would make a neat pendant, but I doubt she’ll let me get my greedy little hands on it.
As soon as I read the text on the piece I assumed that it must be from a Corona beer bottle. I did some searching around on the web and discovered that Corona was first brewed in 1925, but wasn’t imported to the US until 1979 by way of California and Texas.
But as I compared the piece with the bottle, I noticed that the piece of sea glass has the word ‘city’ on it. I can’t seem to find a bottle of Corona with this word on it. I’m assuming that the older bottles said Mexico City, instead of Mexico, but I’m not sure. I just sent a note to the company to find out.
Part of the appeal of collecting sea glass is trying to figure out where each piece originated. It’s like trying to solve a mystery. It’s quite a thrill for me when I figure out where a piece has come from. Like the other day, when I was leafing through Richard LaMotte’s Pure Sea Glass and I found a photo of amberina glass.
“That’s it! That’s it!” I yelled, as if i had just solved the crime of the century. My husband just looked at me and grunted his approval.
What was I so excited about? A few months ago I found a teeny tiny orange and red piece of sea glass on the shores of Lake Erie. I had no idea what it came from – but it sure was pretty. Then as I was looking up various colours of sea glass in LaMotte’s book, I saw a photo of amberina. I had solved the riddle!
Here’s what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about amberina:
Blended colour glass in which the lower part, a yellowish amber, merges into a ruby-red colour higher in . It was patented in 1883 for the New England Glass Company at East Cambridge, Mass., and was produced extensively there and by the successor company, the Libbey Glass Company at Toledo, Ohio, into the 1890s. The base metal was an amber glass containing some gold, and the tinges were developed by applied reheating. The glass was sometimes blown in molds. A wide range of table and ornamental wares, with diamond or ogival designs, or swirled ribbing, were produced by the New England Glass Company, and amberina glass was also produced at New Bedford, Mass., under the name rose amber.
Looks like I found myself a wee gem!
I do love a good lip shard. Here are a few I shot on some pages of scripted scrapbooking paper. I shot these outside before sunset.