September 17, 2010

Closer: Treasures of the sea

I’m really excited about this week’s Friday Photo Challenge, hosted by Chania at Razmataz. The topic this week is CLOSER. Zoom in close to something and see if it becomes unrecognizable…

Can you guess what this is?? (OMG, I just realized it looks like a nipple!! It isn’t, I swear!!)

closer 1

It’s made from a delicate material, but it’s withstood the elements for thirty or more years.

Here’s another one:

closer 2

They’ve travelled thousands of miles, but never on a boat or plane or car or train.

Do you know what they are yet?? Maybe this shot from a bit farther out will help you…

close net

Did you guess yet?? Here’s one more:

big blue close

They’re Japanese glass floats.

my floats 2

I first learned about glass floats on Maya’s blog, Completely Coastal. She wrote this post about Kamichia. Kamichia collects glass floats from beaches along the Alaskan coastline. The majority of floats that they find are Japanese. Some are Korean. I’m not a glass float expert, but I think the difference between them is that the Japanese floats are one solid piece of blown glass, whereas Korean floats are made in molds and have a sort of dappled finish and seams where the sections of the mold met.

korean glass float

Norway was the first country to start producing and glass fishing floats around 1840. Fisherman started using them in 1844 when small egg-sized floats were used with fishing line and hooks, and to support fishing nets. By the 1940s, Europe, Russia, North America, and Japan were all using glass floats almost exclusively.

Today, lucky beachcombers can find Japanese and Korean floats on the West Coast of North America, and European glass floats can be found on the East Coast of North America and in the Caribbean.

glass floats Alaska

I would LOVE to have a float like this one, but from what I’ve read, they’re really rare:

The Ship's Wheel with dried debris sea hermit

Yep, it’s purple!! But it most likely started out clear — this float has been sunturned. The sun literally turned the glass purple over the years that it was exposed to the elements.

Ship's Wheel Mark on 4th.

Isn’t it amazing that these floats, made from something as delicate as glass, were able to withstand the force of the waves and arrive safely on beaches thousands of miles away from where they started their journeys?? The glass is actually quite thick, and the floats are heavier than they look.

My three floats are Japanese. The large blue one and smaller green one were discovered by Kimichia — she sells them in her Etsy store, GlassFloatJunkie. The third small netted float came from Etsy seller lightinawormhole.


I love the net markings on the larger blue float. They were created as the wind, water, and sand wore down the exposed glass over the years and

blue glassfloatjunkie 2

I like the bubbles in the small green float, and the fact that it isn’t perfectly round. It’s cute and stubby :-)

green glassfloatjunkie 2

The small blue netted float came with the name Bluebell.

Blue Bell lightinawormhole

I love how each float is different, yet they all relate to each other — two are blue, two are small, and two don’t have nets. I think they make a beautiful vignette :-)

three 3

Here are some examples of how glass floats can be incorporated into your home decor. A collection of glass floats looks great in a large bowl or dish…

beach living room completely coastal

floats in bowl flickr

This living room has lots of lovely elements — especially the three large floats on the coffee table :-)

japanese_float things that inspire

The sunlight shining through these floats brings out the beautiful colours of the glass.

buffet fishing-glass-floats completely coastal

Don’t they look beautiful hanging outdoors in the sun??

glassfloats cottage 38 north

Huge netted glass floats in designer Jeffrey Bilhuber’s 1920’s Nantucket cottage.

large floats rose cottage jeffrey bilhuber

The large netted glass float on the floor and the knotted ropes and glass floats in the basket add a touch of beachy beauty to this entry designed by Carter & Company.

foyer_08 carter and company

foyer_09 carter and company

Every time I walk by my glass floats, I have to stop and admire them. They’re so beautiful and look so delicate. Then I think about all the years they spent traveling across the ocean, and marvel at their strength and resilience. They truly are treasures of the sea.


Be sure to head back to Razmataz to check out more close-ups!!


Christy said...

Wow they sure are! I had no idea about how they were made or their histories or anything. What an interesting post. Wouldn't it be so neat to find one - a purple one! - on the beach? I'm totally going to keep my eye for these, for the rest of my life! Love them!

Laura Trevey said...

The close up shot is hilarious!!
Gorgeous glass accent pieces....

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wendy said...

interesting...who knew? so pretty in colour. thanks for including the pictures of how they could be incorporated in home decor, always helpful!

Razmataz said...

They are gorgeous, and now I want one or several to hang from the cottage ceiling.

Love the "Nippley" photo. I had no idea what that was.

Shannon @ What's Up Whimsy said...

I have never heard of Japanese glass floats before, so thank you for the introduction!

Have a great weekend Kelly!

Kathysue said...

Kelly I love glass floats they fascinate me for some reason and this post was so informative. I had no idea they were made differently from one country to the next. Great images of rooms using them also, Happy Weekend KATHYSUE

Unknown said...

Thanks for the great post! I love the "design" lessons you provide on the origins of different pieces we all use, but don't know a thing about. Japanese glass floats? Had no idea! I feel very enlightened now.
Have a great weekend!

Jessi said...

I think I need to get my hands on some glass floats now! Wow, beautiful! Great shots too. Thanks for sharing!!

Unknown said...

Apropos Kelly, given that glass is about 70% sand that these wash up on the beach.
Beautiful post...I think I will keep my eyes pealed for one of these babies!

Unknown said...


How exciting they're bubbles turned to glass. Love the purple one also and I bet they'd make great lamps if they could withstand the process to make them so. I wonder how many are still out there in the deep seas? Great post!


Everything Coastal said...

Very pretty! Am friends with Kamichia too, and I was lucky enough to win 2 of these glass floats. They now adorn my dining room table. Nice to meet you!

Olive said...

I had no clue what it was except it vaguely reminded me of the old movie " The Blob" The floats are beautiful and I never knew how they acquired their color. hugs♥olive

Molly said...

Kelly - the colours of those glass floats are beautiful. I love coloured glass. How amazing that the sun turned that one float into that lovely shade of purple! Lovely expression 'sun-turned'

Mrs B said...

Hi Kelly!
Yes I am back blogging, cant believe how long it has been. Thankyou so much for your message xxx you know how much your blog means to me.
You wouldnt believe it but I have a very large bubble sitting on my verandah doing nothing but gathering dust. Now I know what my next post will be...what to do with my fishing bubble LOL. It belonged to my grandma and I believe very old as they found it on the beach in the 1940-1950's How exciting, I cant wait to post now.

Mrs B xx

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

Awesome post and thanks for the mention!! I want a giant float now!! I know those are pretty expensive. And me too, I wonder how many are still out there in the deep seas!? I guess nobody knows. I'll love my floats forever!!!!

The Boston Lady said...

I was convinced it was going to be some exotic sea creature and I guess I was kind of right! How beautifully resiliant these are and I enjoyed reading about them. How lovely. I am at the beach this weekend and will have my eyes peeled for these elusive treasures!

Anne said...

Simply beautiful!

margie said...

lovin jeffrey's cottage. oh my. gorgeous.

Jen said...

Ok, I must admit your post for the challenge is by far my favorite! How beautiful!

Diane said...

how very interesting reading about those beautiful glass floats. And they do fit beautifully in any decor.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous colours and very unusual objets !!! Oh for a beach house !!!

Bowe On Interior Design Painting said...

I've always loved the glass floats. I am sure it has everything to do with growing up on the Oregon coast, Bandon Oregon to be exact. Floats were such a part of almost every home in our little village......
After so many years of being away from the area it is nice to see that they are still around and being utilized for there beauty.
You two do a great job at capturing many ways to utilize these unique little items.
Nicely done....

glee said...

wonderful balls. I first thought they're the same bright balls that rotate with lights in dico pubs :)They are wonderful for interior decor.

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Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi There
Well I love glass fishing floats though yet to get some for myself!!! Must remedy that! Your shots are fabulous.. Had to laugh about the first.. I had a similar shot of the top of a cloche and thought the same thing..

Love all the decor shots too.. really need to get me some glass floats now.. ciao xx Julie

Kat said...

These are beautiful. I'm finally getting to decorate the guest room, and these would be a wonderful addition. Thanks for history, it really is amazing that they wash up intact!

Unknown said...

Kelly, I have to tell you - the very day you posted about these glass floats, I saw a few of them in an antiques store. Thought of you, and was happy to know a little about them!

Unknown said...

Ah Kelly - I absolutely love those glass floats and I love your photos about them. What I like most is that they are "used" - not so polished and chic as if coming directly from production - you know what I mean? I love the various hues of these glass pieces and could imagine how wonderful they look when the sun is shining on them...

Leo said...

Great post. I also first learned of glass floats from Completely Coastal. Love seeing all the photos of the different displays.

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