I thought it was time to write a post detailing the process of setting a small piece or 'cabochon' of sea glass into a ring, not least the painstaking hand shaping involved. Sea glass is nowhere near as strong as the majority of gemstones, glass is obviously easily breakable, and despite having rolled around in the ocean for unknown lengths of time, sometimes decades, gaining its gorgeous texture and frosted exterior, one small slip of my tool or drill renders my hard gained beach treasure nothing more than a splinter of sharp, unusable coloured glass.
So, much of the shaping I do is by hand, taking great care not to touch the lovely surface of the sea glass which will be showing once the ring is finished. Whilst many processes are quicker using a pendant drill, I prefer to take my time and stay in control of the situation rather than remove more material than I intended, and then have to waste any hard-won sea glass pieces!
I use a grinding stone flat on my bench, soaked in water, and I keep the work liberally sprinkled with water whilst I work. This stops any glass dust from flying around, and keeps the piece cool too. The glass is carefully dragged up and down the stone, turning as I go, the aim being to make a rounded edge to my cabochon. The bottom is easily smoothed to make setting more straight forward, and eliminates the rocking that sometimes happens when setting irregular shaped stones or other materials.
It can sometimes take a good hour or so to get the little 'gem' of sea glass to the right shape and thickness, and in the meantime, my hands have taken quite a hammering! It's not unusual to find the tips of my fingers are somewhat smoother than they were at the beginning! I find microporous tape wrapped around the fingers quite useful at times like these. And lashings of hand cream!
Once the sea glass is the required shape, all that remains is to set it into the ring. I make sure that the rest of the ring is completely finished. The last thing you need to be doing is filing or cleaning up once the glass is in situ, one false move with the file and I'd have a lovely scratch right across my precious, and at this point now, totally unique sea glass cacbochon. This particular piece of blue sea glass is SO RARE, it is in fact the only one of this shade of blue I have ever found, in this particular shape.
I love the way the light catches the sea glass, it appears to glow from within - but then that's why we all love sea glass isn't it?!
Kate, June 2014