Sea Glass Foraging on the Isle of Man

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I love hunting for sea glass because it’s so much fun! That in itself is a good enough reason to go, but sea glass is perfect for DIY projects. Artwork, candles, stepping stones, and much more. Here’s more on how I find sea glass on the Isle of Man and projects that I make with it.

When storms lash the shores of our island, the first thing I think of is sea glass. You can comb your way across a beach one day and find nothing, but then after a storm, new pieces can be revealed. Walking along the shore, sand and pebbles that were bare just yesterday can reveal brightly colored shards of softened glass. It makes you wonder what else is hidden under the beach and keeps you coming back to look.

When I set out looking for sea glass I bring a few things with me. Warm clothing and comfortable shoes are a must, but I also bring a plastic container with a lid. It’s perfect for putting pieces in, and the lid stops your treasures from being lost if you stumble. It’s happened to me before! I also usually bring a friend or go with Josh, since it’s a fun activity to do together – especially if you make it into a little competition.

Sea Glass Foraging on the Isle of Man: Piles of brightly coloured sea glass, 19th century pottery, and Louis the cat
After a foray, I sort my finds on a light-colored piece of fabric.

Collect Sea Glass for Craft Projects

If you’re looking for decent places to find sea glass on the Isle of Man, the east coast seems better than the west. Though, of course, I’m sure there are exceptions. I also tend to spot pieces on beaches that are more pebbles than huge rocks or sand. Castletown and Scarlett are great, but I’ve found seaglass on Douglas beach and Ramsey, too. My favorite place is Scarlett, and recently, we came home from there with a handsome haul. It included decent-sized piles of the common clear, pale blue, and green glass. We also found some rarer pieces, including two shards of lavender, various shades of blue, and 19th-century pottery.

Sea Glass Foraging on the Isle of Man: 19th century pottery shards
19th-century pottery shards found on the beach.

Shipwrecks & Rubbish

Sea glass and anything else that washes up on beaches comes from them being deposited in the sea at some point in the past. That’s why you tend to find sea glass near towns and cities, or places where people used to be in the past. Sea glass could come from bottles tossed over the side of a boat or from larger loads of trash dumped in the past. There are even sites of former glass factories in other places in the world that are excellent places to look for sea glass. As for the pottery, I’m told that just off the beach is a shipwreck that carries a cargo of tableware. Shards of them have been washed up to this day, with many still displaying their original patterns and colors. You can even see how some of them were hand-painted all those years ago.

There’s something so beautiful about the softened glass you find on beaches around the world. Come across a freshly broken bottle, and it’s trash. But give nature a little time to do her magic, and each piece can be transformed into a precious gem. Some even have stories, with writing in old-fashioned fonts still visible and shapes that were clearly bottlenecks or bottle stoppers.

The rocky beaches of Scarlett are a great place to look for sea glass.

The Colors of Sea Glass

Some pieces are more special than others, though. I’ve been sharing photos of this latest sea glass finds on social media, and a lot of attention has been given to this piece of lavender sea glass. I was sent the diagram and link below that show just how a bottle gets its color. Apparently, purples come from manganese being added to the glass. I wonder what kind of glass container the piece belonged to, though. Was it perfume? A wine glass? Or maybe a special kind of wine bottle? That wondering is part of the allure of finding sea glass.

The-Chemistry-of-Coloured-Glass
This ‘Chemistry of Coloured Glass’ diagram – source

Sea Glass DIY Projects

Sea glass is beautiful on its own, but I have a project in mind for the pieces we found over the weekend. Something that will display them as the gems they are. More on that later, but in the meantime, I have a few other projects that you might be interested in.

I still have and use the sea glass candle I made a couple of years ago, and the sea glass stepping stone is absolutely stunning. They’re both easy projects that are perfect for displaying the color and texture of sea glass finds. As for the pottery, I’m not sure what I’ll do with it at the moment. Just keep it in a jar as a conversation piece until I can find a better way to display the pieces. There are loads of seaglass projects that I could make with it!

Sea Glass Foraging on the Isle of Man: DIY projects you can use sea glass in
Sea glass is beautiful displayed in jars or used in DIY projects.

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12 Comments

  1. Kristie Escobar says:

    Beautiful big blue piece from Douglas today :) So cold though, no sun.

    1. October is one of the best months for foraging for sea glass — storms really churn up the beach! Hoping you find even more stunning pieces over autumn and winter :)

  2. Living off the coast of Maine our colorful sea glass comes from bouys which were once made of glass. Different colors were assigned to the fisherman, thus the gorgeous turquoise, reds, pinks etc

  3. Maggie Davis says:

    I take a dog for a run on the beach once a week, and I can’t help picking up the bits of glass and other treasures I find. The bits of dark blue glass, and ceramics are my favorite finds! I usually come home with at least one pocket full (I’ve learned to be less enthusiastic and more selective, lol). I’m now working on stained glass sea glass projects, which is turning out to be really fun! I’ll add this to the project list. Thanks!

  4. I live on the IOM too and came across this blog completely by accident. I’d love to know at which beach you found all that lovely pottery. I find the odd bit on Port Erin beach and discovered some at Langness.

  5. Gary Caldwell says:

    I forgot to mention,,,I have about 50 lbs. of sea glass,,,,and allot of pottery,,,,, and even red sea glass ,,,I had no idea what to do with it,,,thank’s for your idea’s,,,,

  6. Gary Caldwell says:

    Love your idea’s Thank’s,,,,,