Brief History : Sea glass

‘Sea glass’ and ‘beach glass’ are very similar but come from two different types of water. ‘Sea glass’ is physically and chemically weathered glass which can be found on beaches along bodies of salt water. This weathering process produces a natural frosted glass. ‘Beach glass’ comes from fresh water and has a less frosted appearance than sea glass. Sea glass can take 20 to 30 years and sometimes as much as 50 years, to acquire its characteristic texture and shape.

Sea glass begins life as normal shards of broken glass that are then persistently tumbled and ground by waves until the sharp edges are smoothed and rounded. In this process, the glass loses its slick surface but gains a frosted appearance over the many years of being weathered by the sea.

The colour of sea glass is determined by its original source. Most sea glass comes from bottles, a lot of which are waste products from Victorian glass factories or ship wrecks, although it can also come from jars, plates, windows, windshields, ceramics or pottery. The most common colours of sea glass are green, brown, and clear. Many of these colours come from bottles used for beer, or soft drinks. Clear or white glass is also fairly common and is usually from clear plates and glasses, or assorted other sources. Less common colours include jade or amber, forest green, and ice- or soft blue. Purple sea glass is very rare, as is citron, opaque white, cobalt and cornflower blue and aqua. Extremely rare colours include gray, pink, teal, black (older, very dark olive green glass), yellow, turquoise, red and orange (the least common type of sea glass, found once in about 10,000 pieces).

Sea glass is collected the world over as it is a true natural gem with variations in the frosting and pitting representative of the fact that it’s beauty is created by nature, recycling what man has thrown away.

Genuine sea glass is never perfect; it will typically have a frosted finish, surface imperfections and it is rarely symmetrical.

Sea glass is also known as ‘Mermaid’s Tears ‘ as it was said that every time a sailor drowned at sea, the Mermaids would cry and the glass was their tears washing up on the shore.

Having recently developed a fascination with sea glass, I have spent some lovely sunny afternoons hunting for sea glass at Morecambe and Half Moon Bay which I am currently incorporating into some new jewellery designs that I am hoping to list on my Folksy shop shortly.

Watch this space for more information (and pictures) on my own sea glass projects.


Brief History : Paperweights

Fine glass paperweights are widely produced, collected, and appreciated as works of art and are often exhibited in museums. They are made entirely of glass by sole artisans, or factories, usually in limited editions. They first began to be produced, especially in France, in about 1845, but began a sustained revival and rise in popularity in the middle of the twentieth century.


Visible flaws, such as bubbles, striations and scratches will affect the value. Glass should not have a yellow or greenish cast, and there should be no unintentional asymmetries, or unevenly spaced or broken elements. Generally, larger weights are more costly and desirable. In a modern piece, an identifying mark and date are imperative.

Types of glass paperweight:

Collectors may specialize in one of several types of paperweights, but more often they wind up with an eclectic mix.

Millefiori (Italian-thousand flowers) paperweights contain thin cross-sections of cylindrical composite canes made from coloured rods and usually resemble little flowers, although they can be designed after anything, even letters and dates.

paperweight 3

Lampwork paperweights have objects such as flowers, fruit, butterflies or animals constructed by shaping and working bits of coloured glass with a gas burner or torch and assembling them into attractive compositions, which are then incorporated into the dome. This is a form particularly favored by studio artists. The objects are often stylized, but may be highly realistic.

Sulfide paperweights have an encased cameo-like medallion or portrait plaque made from a special ceramic that is able to reproduce very fine detail. They often are produced to commemorate some person or event.

Swirl paperweights have opaque rods of two or three colours radiating like a pinwheel from a central millefiori floret. A similar style, the marbrie, is a millefiori containing weight that has several bands of color close to the surface that descend from the apex in a looping pattern to the bottom of the weight.

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Today you can find a variety of paperweights at flea markets, or car boot sales, but if you are looking for really old or valuable paperweights to add to your collection then most of these would be found in private sales, auction houses, or through dealers.

Collecting glass paperweights can become an investment opportunity if you fancy. However if you do decide to invest in older or more collectable pieces then make sure you are dealing with reputable dealers. Remember to always do your homework first before starting any collection. Also, never forget the most important reason for collecting anything: first and foremost, collect what you like and will enjoy!


(Source: Wikipedia)

Brief History : Dress clips

Dress clips were hugely popular in the 1920’s & 1930’s but have since fallen out of fashion. They can be found at vintage & collectable fairs singly or in pairs, or sometimes in the form of a “Duette”. This looks like a normal brooch from the front but at the back is a mechanism for unclasping each side to transform the brooch into a pair of clips (they look a bit like clip-on earrings but bigger) which you can attach to your clothing or accessories





Dress clips are a lovely way to dress up a simple outfit and can be worn on everyday clothing as well as evening wear. Try attaching them to a simple neckline, the straps of a dress, the lapels of a jacket or on a belt, hat or shoes.

Brief History : Art Nouveau (Mucha)

For a brief and brilliant period at the end of the 19th century – starting around 1890, and tailing off before World War One – Art Nouveau dominated the cultural scene. Everything from domestic furnishings and decorative art to architecture and advertising was characterised by its curvilinear elegance and organic forms inspired by nature. Even today, more than a century after the emergence of Art Nouveau, artists and designers continue to be inspired by the floral elements, natural features and colours of this enduring style.
Art Nouveau was characterised by a renewed interest in natural, flowing forms and a subjective feeling for spiritual content. Curves, spirals and rich ornamentation became popular features of the style and were applied to glass, ceramics, architecture and graphic art.
One of the most influential artists of the Art Nouveau era is definitely Alphonse Mucha (Alfons Mucha), who became well known especially thanks to his posters commissioned for Sarah Bernhardt’s theatre in Paris. By 1898, Mucha had become a famous and creative Art Nouveau artist. He designed and published postcards, theatre and advertisement posters, numerous illustrations and decorative panels series, set around central themes inspired by nature, some printed on silk. He produced an astonishing amount of drawings, pastel or watercolor studies and designs for interior decorations, cutlery and dinner object, jewellery and fashion.

Brief History : Easter eggs

Easter comes near to the time of the spring equinox on 21 March, when the length of the day and night are equal

The date of Easter is not fixed, but always falls on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox, making it any time between March 22 and April 25.

Decorating and colouring Easter eggs was a popular custom in the middle ages, and throughout Europe different cultures have evolved their own styles and colours. In Greece, crimson-coloured Easter eggs are exchanged, whereas in Eastern Europe and Russia silver and gold decorations are common, and Austrian Easter eggs often have plant and fern designs. Easter eggs have been coloured and decorated from earliest times. Later, craftsmen made artificial eggs of silver and gold, ivory or porcelain, often inlaid with jewels. The ultimate Easter egg-shaped gifts must have been the fabulous jewelled creations by Carl Fabergé made during the 19th Century for the Russian Czar and Czarina. Today, these superb creations are precious museum pieces.

In the 18th century, people could buy pasteboard or papier-maché eggs, in which they hid small gifts. By the 19th century cardboard eggs covered with silk, lace or velvet and fastened with ribbon were fashionable.

The chocolate Easter egg has developed from the simple type wrapped in paper to the beribboned variety wrapped in brightest foil and packed in a box or basket. The first chocolate Easter eggs were made in Europe in the early 19th Century with France and Germany taking the lead in this new artistic confectionery.

(Source: Chocolate Trading Company)

Brief History : Buttonhooks

Where we now use zips, clothing and shoes in the 19th century used buttons. People relied on these curious looking instruments to facilitate the closing of shoes, gloves or other apparel that used buttons as fasteners. Buttonhooks were invented to pull buttons through stiff leather on shoes and boots or to fasten fiddly clothing like corsets or gloves.

They consisted of a steel hook fixed to a handle which may have been simple or decorative. Sometimes they were given away as promotions with product advertising on the handle. To use, the hook end was inserted through the buttonhole to capture the button by the shank and draw it through the opening. Both glove and shoe button hooks were used in the same manner, and both required a bit of coordination to use.

Today they make an affordable and interesting collectable with their elaborate handles and design and many can be found relatively cheaply online or at Vintage or collectables fairs.


Brief History : Stamp Cases

The world’s first postage stamp was issued in Great Britain in 1840. At that time sending a letter was something special, and stamps were expensive, so special boxes and cases were created to hold them.

Small stamp cases were meant to be carried on one’s person, sized to hold just a few stamps, available for emergencies. The simplest were of decorated cardboard, while the more elaborate were made of precious metals. Many had small rings attached so they could be suspended from a watch chain, necklace or Chatelaine. Some were so elaborately adorned that they were as much items of jewellery as utilitarian objects.

Today they are still highly collectable and can be made into fantastic necklaces. Look out for them at Antique & collectable fairs as well as online.

Brief History: Chatelaine

Current design inspiration : Chatelaines.
Chatelaine is French for “mistress of the castle”

In the 18th and 19th centuries, women in charge of their estates wore a decorative clip of long chains holding important household items about the waist. These items were things like the key to a pantry where valuable tea, spices and food were kept; a small notebook; sewing items; a magnifying glass; or maybe a watch, nail file, or compass. The earlier waist-hung items were referred to as “equipage”, later evolving to “chatelaine” in the early 1800s.

The chatelaine, while still having the useful purpose of organizing the household, also became a fashion accessory that was often given as a wedding present from a husband to his bride. Sewing and needlework were an important part of a young girl’s education and these accessories were ideal in organizing notions. Chatelaines were made of silver, brass, steel, leather, or fabric, depending on the financial status of the household. There was a decorative clip that attached to the waistband with three to seven long chains with clasps suspended from it. If you’ve seen “The Others” with Nicole Kidman, she is wearing one.

Toward the end of the 19th century, dresses with no waist line (and no place for a chatelaine) became fashionable and the waist chatelaine developed into the brooch type and the fabric type worn around the neck