Please pardon my presumptuous thought process. ;-)
I thought it might be a good idea to start a few 'how to' posts, as we all seem
to enjoy knowing how things are created even if we don't plan to make the
Is this a good idea?
Here is my first addition for the Trash To Treasure Library. Hopefully
others will come forward and do the same with tutorials. If we try to keep the
subject lines about the same, with HOW TO in caps, they might be easier to find
for newbies or others looking for such information.
Using a rock tumbler for glass, tile and more...by Karen Manasco
(Instructions based on a small, inexpensive tumbler brand. Directions can also be used for larger tumblers. Simply adjust the contents of the barrel based on your tumbler size and barrel content limit. I am not an expert, just obsessed with tumbling things. Please feel free to alter the instructions to fit your needs)
Surely you've seen, or perhaps had one of your own. A rock tumbler. Many a youth owned the typical tumbler with a red barrel sold under the name brand of ROLLING STONES ROCK TUMBLER. Back then, the length of time it took to tumble and polish rocks seemed like eons, your tumbler ended up in the attic, the garage or a yard sale, seldom having completed the full cycles to produce beautiful rocks as shown on the packaging.
And yet today I find myself searching for these very same tumblers for use in glass and mosaic craft. Wait, don't go. It's easy! Fun, inexpensive, and best of all, you're recycling! No longer must you wait weeks on end to see results. Come on, join me, it's fun!
You will need:
A rock tumbler
Common play sand (need not sift unless you have cats. Ahem.)
Vaseline or other lubricant
Broken glass, cut glass, tile, broken plates, cups, etc.
Once you've acquired a rock tumbler, the next step is to decide what you would like to tumble. Small rocks, broken or nipped pieces of tile, bits of glass, chunks of dishes, many items can go into a rock tumbler, as long as the barrel is not too full, you can tumble just about anything. I even tumbled sticks for a week one time and they turned out very smooth.
TIP: Overloading a rock tumbler can and likely will cause it's early demise. Do not fill your tumbler more than the required quantity, which is typically 2/3's full.
You may wish to use tile nippers or wheeled cutters to get a more precise shape, though it doesn't matter with regard to the edges, as even the roughest cuts or breaks will be smoothed in the tumbling process. Fill the barrel 2/3's full of material. It is advised not to mix opposing materials, such as glass with rocks with tiles, as you may not achieve the results you seek on all the items. It is better to tumble glass alone, tiles alone, rocks alone, etc.
Fill the barrel with water so the level of water is just barely above your materials. Add three to four spoonfuls of common sand. Smooth a small amount of Vaseline on the outside of the barrel, then put the lid on securely and let 'er rip. If you simply want to knock the edges from the glass for handling, you don't have to run the machine for days on end. In fact, several hours will do a good job. You can take the tumblers off at any time and check for smoothness. The longer you leave the tumblers running, the smoother and rounder the pieces will become. Alter the time according to what you would like the finished product to look like. Remember, this will likely be a noisy process. If you have a garage or a covered area outdoors, it would be best to run your tumbler(s) where they may run continuously for days without causing anyone a headache.
If you must stop the tumbling process after it has tumbled for a few days, rinse the items off and drain the water. Depending on what you choose to tumble, the mixing action can actually produce a gunk very similar to concrete, which is a pain in the butt to get clean. When tumbling broken pottery, dishes, dinnerware and other items, it is a good idea to check the tumbler after two days, sometimes rinsing and adding more sand if the mixture is too thick and producing the concrete-like gunk.
Have fun, experiment, don't be afraid to try different materials. Keep in mind that some broken dishes may lose their patterns. Designs on dinnerware in gold will rub off, as will most hand painted items. The way I figure it, if the design is still on the pieces after four days of tumbling in sand, it should be able to handle being a part of a stepping stone, mosaic item, etc.
Another fun thing to do with rock tumblers is to make cubes. If you happen to have a tile saw, try cutting plates into evenly sized squares, then tumble them. They come out a fantastic cube shape with nice soft edges, perfect for mosaics.
Remember, glass will take on a frosty look if left in the tumbler long. While I do like the frosted look, others might prefer a clear yet safe to handle glass, which can be achieved by reducing the tumbling time.
Please feel free to ask any questions, and again, remember, I'm not a professional tumbler, I just play one on the internet.
Yard, garage and estate sales, rummage sales, thrift shops,
Goodwill stores, Ebay, they are all over.
I'm a bit cheap when it comes to the tumblers, so I don't spend much
for them. Out of seven tumblers rolling all the time, only two have died.
They aren't designed for professional tumbling or as much work as I
demand from them, but if I can have that much fun with five to ten bucks,
I'll be rolling for a while.
After tumbling broken wine bottles and such, it didn't take
long to begin finding things at yard sales and flea markets.
Reduced glass items which were chipped or cracked are
Last year, the most beautiful rooster popped up at a yard sale, costing
fifty cents or a dollar or so, as his head was broken. When he arrived
home, he met the fate of a sledgehammer. The rooster became the
most beautiful tumbled rocks in varied shades of orange, red and yellow.
The blue glass in the last post was a big vase which was pretty banged
up and scratched. Very thick glass, it required quite a smack with the hammer.
Once you begin examining the glass, it won't take long to figure out which
glass is made of color and which has been tinted or coated. One time a pink
bunny was sent through the tumbler only to come out clear. :-(
You will be surprised what you can find to smash once you begin looking around.
Broken candle holders, plates, etc. though milk glass takes a long time to tumble.
Forgot to mention, while they are frosty after tumbling, they
gain most of their beautiful colors back when wet.
Below is an image of what once was a giant oval sheet of
glass that was more than 1/2" thick. It weighed a ton! While
moving it, an armadillo ran between my feet, which ended as
you could likely guess.
After moving the larger pieces to the garage, they became the
next project. It takes quite a smack to break these up as well, so
they are placed into a deep dish pan on top of a rock, then smacked.
With safety glasses, of course.
They look absolutely beautiful in a lotus bowl with a candle in the
middle, especially at night.
Karen, I would wager that you are never, ever still...and if you are your brain is going like mad inventing the next goodie. I would looove to see pictures of lots of your items. Everytime I catch up with you there something more wonderful than before.
Lou, since I was a child, you never know what I will do, say, think next. Ha ha!
You should see what some of my childhood teachers had to say on the
back of my report cards. Too funny to look back at them.
Brender, with three to four spoonfuls of sand and water just above the
level of glass, four days is all it takes for most glass to get that nice
frosty soft edge. You can actually see a difference in just one day, but
I like the rocks to be super smooth. The longer you leave them in, the
better they are, but I'm often unwilling to wait an entire week, the anticipation
Just yesterday I put another five barrels on to roll with that very same glass,
the super thick stuff. The next time I put in a batch, I'll pick a particular shape
and post a photo of day one, day two, etc. so you can see the difference in
each day's tumbling.
Thanks, Karen. Four days is quite reasonable! Man, I love glass...glass and rocks..can't get enough of them. I'm like Lucille Ball in the "Long, Long, Trailer" (did you see that movie?) When I go anywhere, I bring back rocks.
Thanks Wuvie. I've had a rock tumbler in the back of my mind for awhile (clear in the verrrry back of my mind), but after reading your little tutorial last night I got so excited I made a pit stop at Ebay on my way to bed. True, I woke up $45 poorer this morning, LOL, but I'm excited to give this a try. I will definitely keep my eye out for used tumblers in the future, but in the meantime I'm the proud owner of a brand-spankin' new "Lapidary Rotary Rock Glass Metal Tumbler Poslisher Tool". Wow that sounds impressive.
I confess to not having used it..yet! I got it to tumble silver clay jewelry and then spent some time trying to find steel shot. Meanwhile I got the shot but the spirit had moved me to make jewelry with stones so it couldn't tumble with the stones..OY! I drive myself nuts!!! So... I'm going to try some glass now. I found some plate glass in my "collection" but not as thick as that yummy stuff you have.
Steel shot, is that sort of like bb's you would use to tumble the clay?
The super thick stuff might be easier to come by than you think. :-)
I've often thought about giving a letter to local antique stores and
flea markets, basically stating I would buy, at low cost of course, any
broken glass items of color. Otherwise you get twenty calls a day to
say someone broke an ordinary drinking glass.
Also try Goodwill stores for drinking glasses which often have super
thick bottoms, in both clear and colored. On a lucky day, you may get
them for a song, ten cents a glass, etc.
Yes, its sort of like bbs but some are flying saucer shaped and/or rods to get into the nooks and crannies.
I've got quite a bit of scrap art glass to tumble along with some plate glass and some drinking glasses with chips. Might be going to the beach Monday if I can clear my work up so hoping to get some sea glass the tourists missed! Sometimes it gets thrown back it if is too "new" so might get some to finish in the tumbler.
For those lucky enough to find bottles of unique shape, they
can be cut on the tile saw as well. Some may be tricky, but
remember, where there's a will, there's a way. ;-)
Olive oil often comes packaged in bottles of beautiful, well, olive
colored glass. Many times the bottles are square in
shape, and thus lend a bit of variety to projects other than the
typical round shapes of a wine bottle.
To cut such bottles on a saw, you might eye the bottle, or if you
feel your eye is a bit crooked, you can either draw a cutting line
on the bottle, or use masking tape to mark off the sections you wish
to cut. Using tape also helps to reduce the chance of your slice
breaking, as the tape acts as a sort of vibratory insulation of sorts.
Let's say you are cutting an olive oil bottle with a side wall width
of 3". Place the bottle on it's side, then gently push the bottle until
the saw penetrates the bottle. You should be able to see the wheel
through the glass. Continue cutting, moving the bottle forward only,
do not twist or turn the bottle. Complete the cut of one side wall. Once
you have sliced one side, the saw and the bottle will no longer be in touch.
Turn the bottle 1/4 turn, move the bottle towards the cutting wheel. All
too often, square bottles are of thinner glass, so cut slowly and steadily,
or the glass will easily break and / or splinter.
Remember, if you are going to melt the slices in a kiln, the squares don't
have to be exact. Work carefully, but don't be too hard on yourself about
Also, try not to work with bottle remnants of small size. It is easier to find
another bottle than trying to hold on to small sections while cutting.
Okay. So the tumbler is finally loaded and running! Whoopdeeedooo! Here's a before photo of the contents. It used to be my lasagna pan. It exploded when a bottle of karo syrup fell off the shelf and of course hit it "just right." The syrup bottle didn't break, thankfully. Have been saving the glass for who knows what. Thought I'd try it in the tumbler. Had to take the hammer to it after trying various methods to make smaller pieces (new respect for karo syrup ;-0)
Wuvie, you were asking about the Harbor Freight rock tumbler. It is very quiet. I have it going in the basement and so far cannot hear it upstairs. Might be a different story when I am trying to go to sleep tonight! The barrel is rubber so I think that makes a difference. Thanks again for the instructions.
Brender, I just ordered the tumbler from Harbor Freight...cost including postage was $29...I was wondering about the rubber tumbler, won't all the glass tumbling around tear/cut up the rubber???
I have been saving broken glass forever thinking I would do some mosaic birdbaths and I can't wait to start tumbling~
Just emptied the tumbler today and checked the inside - no cuts or anything. I am pleased with my first result. I used play sand that was really fine but want to try something a little more coarse to see what that looks like. Not sure what the next load will be but going to dig around and see what I've got. No lack of glass here, that's for sure! I'm doing a mosaic table top now, just a small one. Here's a photo of the first tumbling result. Happy tumbling!
Ooh, Brenda, nice looking lasagna pan you've got there, LOL.
There are times I tumble for four days, rinse the glass off well,
replace fresh water and fresh sand and then tumble for three
more days. You would not believe how rounded and beautiful
the glass becomes with each passing day.
Oh, and that dish your glass is in, I'll bet that would be gorgeous
in a tumbler. Heh heh. Just kidding.
The local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores are great sources
of chipped dishes willing to sacrifice their lives for a rock tumbler.
I tumbled a big cracked casserole dish from the Goodwill, seems
like it ran .50 cents. It was one of those Corning Ware type dishes,
only it was in a purple hue. Nowadays they even have blue and
green. Very nice glass for tumbling.
One of these days I'll take a picture of the results from a
large multi-colored glass rooster. His life ended with a sledgehammer.
Ordered mine...and when I kiss the rest of my life goodbye - it WILL be all your fault, you do understand, don't you??? I am cringing over all the red glass (broken) that I finally dumped last year. sheeeshhhhhhhh I will try posting on Freecycle ...that should keep the "cost" down, as everything has to be "free".
Although I only paid .25 at a yardsale for that red dish, I just can't smash it...yet... no telling what happens if'n I get in a tumbling frenzy though ;-). DH came home with some thick glass items from the transfer station yesterday but all clear glass. Have you drilled glass before tumbling ? Big debate at the supper table tonight - drill the hole before or after tumbling... some of these pieces will be good pendants. Thinking of drilling a divot and gluing in a gem of some sort.
Can't wait to see your fowl that ran afoul of the sledge!! I'm punchy...
Will definitely be looking in the thrift stores differently now.
Funny you should mention that about the hole drilling. The
drawbacks, if you could call them that, to drilling after the tumble
is that you have to work very slowly but surely. I have broken
some very beautiful, fantastic shapes after tumbling by trying
to drill a hole for pendant use. *pout*
The thing about drilling before tumbling is that you can't put the hole
too close to the edge or it may tumble out, putting you back where
you started - without a hole. Thin sections are also buggers because
if they survive the drilling, they often do not survive the tumble.
It really depends on your piece. If you feel the piece is fractured so
unique that you don't want to chance it, I would say drill first, leave plenty
of glass room, then tumble with similar glass.
I've also discovered the rule of glass pretty much applies as it does
with rocks and gems, some tumble well together and some do not.
I'm trying some more milk glass tomorrow. The last tumble took forever!
Well, I HAVE "done the dump" ... for other things at another phase of my life - OMG - what have I become???? In fact, today I drove past the old dump my gal pal and I used to haunt - how funny is that???
My friends who have seen me through so many things will just roll their eyes, muttering "there she goes, again", when I ask them to save any broken colored glass.
Doing concrete work - it is a classy glassy act to get shattered windshield chunks from places that replace windshields - and then use the tumbled chunks to make faux geodes. I haven't done it yet - but, Katie, bar the door, cuz here I come!!!! I have done a LOT of concrete art - I just haven't done the geode thing. I have LOTS of glass globes which get sacrificed in the orb construction.
I went looking for pix (belonging to other creative folks) and can't locate them right now...however...you know what geodes are ...rocks w/ natural crystals inside, amethyst being one of the more common types. SO - the idea is to create an orb w/ crystals in it. This can be done w/ cement mix packed into basketballs (for one example) or light bulb covers (for another). To make the crystals - you put in glass in the center and to the edge so that it will create that opening. I have been anxious to try it - and now w/ the possibilities of adding colored glass instead of just windshield glass, it is even more exciting to consider.
Rest well - and if I don't get back here for a number of days, not to worry. I have a FLA trip - back home in a week. I am jazzed!!!!!!!
About drilling, your thoughts are similar to what I was thinking. It would either weaken it before tumbling or I'd wreck something nice when drilling afterwards. Thinking maybe if I just do the divot after tumbling it will be okay and then glue a bale on the top of the pendant. I tend to not have much patience with drilling :-D.
Tempered glass! My nephew works in a body shop so he is helpful when I ask, takes more than one request, but eventually...
I've got some pretty small tg that I am using for the dragonfly wings in the mosaic I'm working on. Hoping it will look good. Well, not much else to add today. Had a couple of days off and it's back to work today... very overrated! Do you have a pic of the milk glass?
That geode thing sounds cool, not really getting a visual but sort of. Need to see a pic!! Have a great time in FLA. Don't forget to hit the thrift stores while you are there ;-)
Dang... I have been trying to stay away from this post...lol
things are really rolling around here ... I may have to order a tumber ..
I was just given 2- 5 gal buckets of tembered glass some really heave chunks in there . My grand baby(2&1/2) looked in and said
" Oh grammy a bucket of Diamonds " A girl after my own heart ...lol
Drilling holes .. My thoughts are drill first ... In the middle of bigger chunks so it turns out kind of like a donut... So you don't mark the glass after its been tumbled
At least the lady explains tumbled glass in a decent manner.
Some sites go out of the way to make tumbled glass sound so trashy.
It would be different if we were trying to sell it as naturally tumbled.
I've been playing with a few pieces lately, even looking at some copper
wire. Yard sales, especially estate sales, are notorious for ornate glass
in color. One of my favorite piles of tumbled glass is from a small saucer
with a flared floral lip. It turned out the most gorgeous pieces just dying
to be pendants.
The thing I notice about the tumbled glass versus sea glass is the uniformity of the texture. Not a bad thing, I like it all. But with sea glass it is varied so I am thinking if I put in some small pebbles/rocks, coarse sand, and fine sand I would achieve more of a varied texture. Wuvie, have you tried this, being the glass tumbling guru that you are? I wanted to be a purist and use sea water and beach sand but DH said it would not be good for the aluminum parts of the tumbler :-( killjoy...
It sure cannot hurt to try. I'm not sure, but it seems beach sand is finer.
When I use playground sand, it is smooth and often literally turns to mush
after almost a week tumbling. There have been times I could not get the
tumblers open because the insides had literally cemented in one big
I've discovered that using the sand and such that comes through our
creek works wonders. I simply get a bunch of it, run it through a
screen and rinse it off. I've also literally scooped a few spoons of creek
bed, dirt and all, into the tumbler. Two days later, I rinse the barrel
out and allow the same materials to continue tumbling throughout the
process. Works quite well and is free. Seems to tumble down the
sharper edges better.
For basic smoothing, play or beach sand works well, but creek stuff
is sort of like heavy duty.
I'm trying to get over my 'instant gratification' issues, so one day I'll
take the time to start off two days with super harsh additives such as
creek bed, then a few days later switch to finer sand to polish it up a bit.
But if you are looking for a bit of roughness, definitely experiment with
additives. Let us know whatcha tried.
I think it is probably the creek look I'm going for. I should find out where they get the stuff they put on the roads in winter... looking at my car.. it does a pretty good sandblasting job! I used the play sand because I got it for something else. But, you are right, it turned to mush. It really cemented stuff together. I guess it was pretty much clay slip at that point, at least that is what it felt like. But we are on sandy soil here. It used to be the beach eons ago. Actually, we lived about 25 miles north and had a couple of old stone walls on the property. Moving them around after the log skidder messed them up we found a rock with a fossil of a shell in it . Amazing really, as we are now about 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. I'll just dig around here for some free sand. Maybe dig up something cool besides. We have found a lot of old bottles when digging up for other stuff but mostly clear or brown beer bottles.
Brenda (who also suffers from instant gratification issues ;-D )
Back when I was doing all my concrete work, I had a 10 yd dump truck deliver me a load of sand. It hasn't been used up - and it certainly doesn't degrade ... so as soon as I get back from FLA and as soon as the tumbler arrives - I will be having fun!!!!!!!!
Wuvie - my trip is a short one - gift from my son who insists he has to take his mother to Disneyworld. I am still chuckling over that. So - I don't envision the freedom to do the beach combing etc. Now - here at home - I am about 1.5 hours from the Pacific - so the opportunity to get real sea washed glass DOES exist here. I just have never done it - except to look for glass floats and such.
OK what's this all about? I got my tumbler today. Yippee! But the instructions (Oh please don't tell me it's complicated enough to need instructions) tell me I need to add abrasive which not included? Well I was about to get 'em all wadded up in a bunch when I popped on here and saw that you all are using sand. OK, I'm over that one.
But now I can't get the %#$ lid off the tumbler. I swear somebody at Harbor Freight is having quite a belly laugh even as I type this over the super glue they applied to the lid of my tumbler. I'm not kidding the thing will not budge. *sigh*.
The lid is a bit of a bugger. I used the washer that goes on the lid to GENTLY pry up the lid, kind of do a little bit at a time working your way around the rim just to get it started. Kind of like when you have to break the seal on a canning jar. It's a tight fit for sure but has to be.
Just happened to check the forum before heading out to my dad's for his birthday. I think it has to do with the combination of aluminum (lid) and the barrel (rubber). Kind of like flesh on vinyl on a hot day, flannel on flannel, ...that type of thing. You have to really push it on too. I put it on the floor and lean on the heels of my hands to make sure it is on properly. To get it off it just takes a little working around with the washer or a coin or something like that to break the seal enough to get your fingers under there.
Got a couple of cool bubble looking ashtrays to smash/tumble at a yard sale today. Will post a before and after pic when I get a chance. Off to the birthday boy's house.
Hope this helps, Lala! When you put the inner lid on make sure it is just even with the lip of the barrel. The instructions are not that great but I just gave it a whirl with what seemed to make sense.
Thanks girls! Was just on my way to Dear Old Dad's to see if you could give me a hand (Im so instructionally challenged). I was afraid to keep applying pressure for fear of damaging the thing. I'll let you know how I make out...then ask for further instructions I'm sure, LOL!
And as an aside (since I imagine you'll be seeing more of me)...I feel like I should explain my name. Many folks on DG call me Jane (which is perfectly fine) but my nick is a bit deceiving. My name is actually Laura but when nephew #1 was born (holy cow that was almost 20 years ago!) he couldn't pronounce it so I became Auntie Lala. And so I have remained with each subsequent baby although it often gets shortened to Auntie La or just plain La. Believe it or not the name La as well as Lala was already taken here at Dave's so I threw my middle name in for good measure. And there you have it. Much more than you ever cared to know about Lala (aka Laura) Jane from zone 5 in Ohio. LOL!
Hi everyone im new to all this, glad i found you,just bought a tumbler as i want to make my own beach glass,i see some of you have had good results , i want to make mosaic mirrors i made one some time ago and loved making it, i gave it to my mother-in-law as a present she loved it,well so she said haha,my name is caroline im from the uk south wales im 44 years old.catch you all laters bye.
Welcome. I'm new to the group, too. I've been to your part of Wales and it's lovely. Can't wait to go back some day. We spent the night in a guest house in Cardiff on our way to Snowdonia.
I just went to the thrift store today looking for some colored glass. Only got a small green vase but did get some wine bottles this weekend so guess I'll have to get the hammer out! Hope to see your work soon. Happy tumbling!
Hi, brender,denimangle,i just put some glass into my tumbler old jug i found ,clear glass, but lets see what it turns out like,shall try and take a pic of it when its ready,brender im about 25 miles from cardiff lol i dont go into cardiff very often , always get myself lost lol ,im going to have to get some colored glass hope i can find some lol tip here i come.see you all laters bye.
Thanks so much for this thread and the harbor freight link for the less expensive price. We have a HF store here that I go to a LOT...very dangerous store for me :^) While most women get stuff like candy and such for significant days I get HF stuff...Hubby once got me a baby cement mixer that I have a grand old time with...kind of off the subject
Anyhoo, I got two of the tumblers and found some broken glass flower vases. The glass is kind of thin though. Will this work? Would hate to let the tumbler run for days on end with me staring at it in anticipation and then end with up with nothing. I also thought about getting some of the empty bottles from local bars. I do not drink myself but this is a college town and there is no lack of people that do LOL. Would those work? I am so glad that I read the part about using course sand. I had some really fine stuff left over from a project that I cannot remember (sound familiar??) but I guess I will use the course builders sand that I also have some of.
I am just going to sit and look at them until I get some guidance from all of you experts...
I get HF stuff for special occasions, too. My dad gave me their 4" bench grinder for Christmas last year. We don't have a HF store but if we did it would be dangerous for the whole family. Wuvie definitely wears the tumbling tiara so she could answer your questions, but I would lean toward the bar bottles versus the thin glass. Although, you might be able to use the thin glass with the fine sand and tumble for a shorter time. Glad to have you here!
Whoo hooo! Another glass fan and a Harbor Freight fan, this grows
more fun by the day!
Sure, hop on down to the local tavern, they are sure to have plenty
of glass for you. As Brender mentioned, the thinner glass isn't much
fun, and rather dainty. The same goes for the side walls of beer bottles,
as the glass is very thin. The bottoms and tops are nice, though.
If you can get your hands on wine bottles, or even thicker - champagne bottles,
the glass is great. I love champagne bottles, but hubby tends to cabbage
onto those for storing his home brew. Occasionally I make a trip by myself
to the recycling center, and they are all mine, mine, mine! LOL
Welcome to the thread!
:-) Karen Marie
Picture is of a sheet of tempered glass after shattering with a bowling ball.
HAHA! The work situation today is such that I have to go to my "happy place" frequently to maintain so I cannot promise I won't drag you there with me, Wuvie! But, I'll try to keep it to a minimum... I really will try... ;-)
OMG !! I just got the new HF sale paper Page 20 Tumblers $21.99 & a double for $34.99 But then on the back is a coupon for 15% off anything in the store .. They are really calling to me. I wonder if its good on line so I don't have to drive 200 miles for a tumbler :-(
Just got the 350+ page Delphi glass catalog today.. not good since I am trying to work and easily distracted..anyway.. they have a tumbler in there that looks suspiciously like the HF 3lb tumbler and comes with 1 lb of metal shot (for jewelry polishing).. price tag of $89.95.
Wuvie: I cannot thank you enough for your post on "faux sea glass". I am an avid sea glass collector and so is my 13 year old son. We have a home in NC and do a lot of searching when we can get there. My son has decided to do his 7th grade science project on "sea glass" and if "man can make what nature produces". He is going to use several different sands/abrasives and will be comparing what he produces versus what is produced in natural water areas. Your post gives vivid detail on how to do this. In fact, we got the rock tumbler at harbor freight last night! It's on the website for $19.99 but is in the store for $29.99 and they told me to bring in the online ad and they would refund me. Any other thoughts/posts on what other material to use to produce that totally frosted appearance? What about that silicone that I have seen? I love your idea about going to thrift stores/yard sales for "glass".
Looking forward to sharing our progress, many thanks again.
PS: I LOVE that blue glass that you posted. It's simply beautiful.
Welcome, welcome, welcome to the forum, we're so happy you've joined us!
As I tend to ramble on at length, it may be a better idea to move this
to a new thread. Some of us have dial-up internet connections, often
resulting in the page taking forever to load, and I'm about to ramble again. LOL
How are you buying from Harbor Freight.
When I go to the web page the best it will let me do is print a shopping list .. No way to buy anything .. Could someone post the link to the page that lets you buy on line ..It would save me a 200 mile trip
opps guess I should have posted on the new seaglass#2
I just bought a tumbler from HF, and I am well into my first foray of making tumbled glass. I checked the glass today, and it is looking good. I am going to give it a few more days. Your posts have been so helpful. I am using vintage bottles and old cracked insulators. I just used play sand to start with. I will maybe experiment with some other media next time. I also have a lot of milk glass that I am looking forward to tumbling. I can't wait to post pics. I have lots of blue, green, and lavender glass that is heavy. I bought a small drill, and a diamond bit to drill holes. I think my tumbled glass is going to make some pretty sweet jewelry. Thank you, for your help, ~Bunny.
I was dumpster diving last night, and one of my friends showed me a glass factory spot that had a dumpster full of beautiful colored glass scraps. I also smashed a chipped blue insulator that I had, and the chunks were just beautiful. I can't wait to see how they turn out. My first batch turned out wonderfully. I tumbled some light blue, and clear glass. This is way too much fun. I just wish I had a bigger tumbler. I started with the three pound one from HF. I bought a drill and some diamond bits, but drilling a hole is harder than I thought it would be. I guess it is just going to take some practice. I guess I will have to settle for wrapping my pieces for now. ~Bunny.
Yeah!!! I figured out how to drill the glass. I used a little bit more water, and just let the drill bit skim the water. I am on my way to making jewelry. As soon as I finish a few pieces, I will post pics. ~Bunny.
I'm new here,my name is David,e-mail:email@example.com
I live in Pocatello,Id. Am interested in tumbling glass,have HF 3#tumbler> While surfing this site I reapost from ?? that uses a HF cement mixer.. How good dose this work for you?? Is it noisey ,dose it "TUMBLE" the glass or just break it into little piece's ?? I would like to "tumble" in quanity for my own use.. Would you please post a reply or e mail me with your likes or dislikes?
Wow David.. Welcome to Daves.. I'm not so sure you should post your phone number on an open forum.. Speaking for myself.. I am prone to midnight dialing.. lol.. With some people its drunk dialing for me is sleeping medication dialing.. lol.. So don't tempt me with your number.. lol..
Wuvie (and others) can answer any and all your glass questions.. :)
I have yet to get my feet wet with it.. Just a few more days tho.. YAY
Welcome to Dave's Garden! You are certain to enjoy your membership!
Yes, I do have a concrete mixer and have used it for glass. However,
it is very noisy. I don't want the sharp edges merely knocked off, I want
the glass to be very smooth. As a result, the tumbler must be run off and
on for days, as the motor would likely not appreciate being run at all
times in order to complete the process.
The mixer does not break the glass up, though some pieces may in
fact break in the process. You'll have to add glass that is pretty much
the size, or just over the size you wish in the end result. The glass will
'shrink' if you will just a bit with each hour of tumbling.
Janice is right, you may wish to remove your phone number from the post.
Even though most of us are decent people, you never know, it is, after all,
I found some RED glass and some BLUE glass,very thick mugs at a thrift store for under $ 1.00 each. I use about one half pound each of pea gravel,sand and BB's.
Work's really good in a short amount of time. Am really excited to tumble the RED glass. Will let you know how it turn's out..
I think I will try to make a 5 gallon plastic bucket tumbler. This will take some
thought and engineering,but I will play with the idea..
I think what Wuvie is trying to tell you is that some glass is just painted and that color will come off in the tumbling process. One way to determine whether color is painted on or if glass is actually red or blue would be to scratch it and see if clear glass results. Another way to check some things - like bottles - is to look down the neck. The bottom should NOT be clear. Others can give you their pretest ideas.
OK , all , I sprung for a 40# tumbler so I could do all one color and get a bunch at one time . Wuvie , What is the size I should break the bottle glass to ? After tumbling it , I went back and rebroke it again so the pieces would be flatter . How small is too small to work with comfortable ? I might have to look for flat stuff to begin with and not mess with bottles . D
Welcome, Highmtn! Glad you joined our thread. Looking forward to
chatting much with you.
Digger, a forty pound tumbler? Whoo hoo!
If you don't necessarily want to mess with bottles, you can also
use plates. You would be amazed at the neat pieces from plates
and saucers. A simple pair of tile nippers and a few plates from
a local thrift shop, Salvation Army or Goodwill store yields very
cool results. Great mosaic tiles!
The size of the pieces depends on what you are doing. Big chunks
can be used as decor in the garden, smaller flat chunks can be used
in mosaics or for jewelry, etc. It all depends on what you wish to accomplish.
new to the forum, wuvie.. but a thought with the tumblers.. dirt cheap is more than an expression, no?.. if you start the glass with builders sand, then change to white sand box sand the kids play in.. finer sand, a shinier finish on the glass ; just be sure to thoroughly rinse off all the builders sand.. the finer the grit, the shinier the piece (maybe ''shiny'' isn' the word.. less dull; more transluscent than opaque, but not clear to be sure..
and another thought... if it hasn't been mentioned in all the posts over the years.. don't forget the crafters and studios that work with stained glass.. might even be lucky to have a stained glass maker in the area.. their scraps are often just thrown out and are exquisite when tumbled.. the glass is made from colored silica so you don't have to worry about any surface flashing treatment being abraded and leaving you with clear glass at the end of the tumble cycle.. and the pieces are already broken for you
"stained glass maker in the area.. their scraps are often just thrown out and are exquisite when tumbled.. the glass is made from colored silica"
Wait.. stained glass is colored silica? Do you have a link with this info?
Because I have lots of stain glass I was going to tumble..
Finally YAY got my tumber (for my B-Day) except its a vibratory tumbler system.. HF didn't have any of the red barrel type so hubby bought me this one and it holds 5 lbs.. YAY... Funny I have been waiting for one, for what seems like forever. lol.. Now that its finally here, I'm not sure what want to break and stick in it..
hey, dirt-road.. lemme try this again; tried to paste a link and everything else got deleted.. glass is silica.. the first glass was, it's believed an accident, when a bonfire on a beach melted the beach sand.. colored glass is silica with metal ores added.. copper, iron, etc.. the silica and ores are melted in a kiln, ''gathered'', and the mess is dumped onto a table where the different colored batches are mixed (looks like taffy).. then the lump is put into a roller press and the finished product that comes out the far end is stained glass/cathedral glass.. the colors are throughout and won't wear off with tumbling.. flashed glass has a thin painted layer on the surface that's fired to bond the color to the clear glass.. that's what comes off with tumbling.. not to be confused with cased crystal that's clear molten glass dipped into colored molten glass and the whole shootin match is either blown or molded, then patterns are ''cut to clear'' .. think those fabulous bowls, goblets and decanters from bohemia and slovakia.. those would make interesting tumbled pieces, too, if ya happen to break one.. hope this helps
digger~lol.. that is a monster!! The blue monster.. have you tried running it on that table? Looks like it would take off dragging the table behind it.. lol.. Cant wait to see what comes out of blue monster...
Oh and I put lots of stained glass in my tumbler last night and turned it on just to see how loud it would be... OH MY GOD... Turned that sucker right back off.. It will have to go outside.. No doubt about that.. Maybe on the screen porch.. I bet with that thing running I dont have to worry about coons trying to come up on the porch.. lol..
Well the RED glass from the thrift store tumbled to really pretty clear. I did put my pocket knife to it before I bought it,scratch test said Red Glass,tumbler test said you got hosed on that piece.. Oh well,the blue glass is blue glass and turned out really good and frosty. I think I would like one of those 40lb. tumbler's..
David I bet you would.. Since you were asking questions about the cement mixers.. One like Digger has might just be what you are needing.. GLad you had luck with your piece of blue glass..
I have a whole WHOLE set of blue glass dishes.. I told my oldest daughter I was thinking of taking a hammer to them and she was in shock.. BUT MOM they are still perfect and you still have all the pieces.. lol.. I guess I will hang on to them a little longer.. They are such a pretty blue.. I need to find a craft to do with them, before I do give them the hammer of death..
i HAVE FOUND THAT AND, NOW USE A CENTER PUNCH ALONG WITH THE "HAMMER" TO BREAK THE GLASS I WANT TO TUMBLE, WHEN YOU USE A CENTER PUNCH YOU CAN "COTROL" THE BREAK AND ALSO THE SIZE OF EACH PIECE (PRETTY MUCH) AND END UP WITH ALOT LESS MINI
SLIVER'S AND CRUMBS THAT ARE OF NO USE.
Digger I believe Dave was talking about using a hammer because I said I was going to take a hammer to my glass.. lol... I believe he was suggesting I use a center punch place it on the glass and then hit the center punch with the hammer.. By the way great idea David!! And that would make perfect sense using the center punch to help cut down on the slivers and tiny pieces.
Digger~ here is a picture of a center punch I googled.. :-) Now gotta ask hubby has one. Im sure he does..
Ok, like a nail set . I have both a ns and a center punch ,different sizes . I thought you was talking about something you put the glass in and hit it with a hammer . Duh ! I'm not comfortable breaking glass . I have a concrete block i put in a plastic tub , then lay a thick magazine over it and tap . I'm so afraid I'll get some on the porch and step on it , I hose the porch off each time and put water in the tub , empty that into the tumbler .
I can give the name of the co. I bought that from . free shipping . I got it on buy now on ebay , but I have his return address . dmail me if you want , he had some smaller . digger
It is now turning COLD here in south-east Idaho,I have my tumbler's out side in a covered patio and am wondering if adding rock salt to the mix to keep it from freezing will "hurt" the rubber barrel of my H.F. tumbler ??
Yes a center punch and hammer is a good way to "size" glass,I alway's use one.
Another thing I do is build a fire in a "chimania" git a good deep bed ao coals,add a couple of wine bottles,feed the fire from the top and melt the bottles.
They don't really melt but they "sag" or "collapse" real nice,leave them in the coals
until cold,center punch smack and tumble. Result's: VERY nice.
Try it,you might like it!!
I happen to Google "How to tumble glass" about an hour ago. Found this forum. Started reading from August, 2007 and here I am...mesmerized. Fabulous info! I have a tumbler (use for polishing my silver creations) and a glass kiln (have been using for silver clay jewelry), and tons of other tools and apparatus. Now I am now moved to start playing with glass based on everything I've read here. Just wanted to join, login, and say hello.
Hi Karen Marie, Thanks for all of the great information. I just returned home from Maui yesterday armed with 5 ziploc bags of authentic sea glass that I scoured the shore and found! There are a few pieces that are still a bit rough around the edges...I was wondering if I can just tumble some pieces for a short amount of time to smooth them out a bit or will that affect the natural sea effect? Thanks so much for your help! Beth
Oh my gosh, genuine sea glass from Maui? I guess since I don't live
anywhere near a sea or source for such glass, I'm thoroughly envious.
Personally, I would not mechanically tumble the sea glass, but keep it
as is. What a wonderful treasure!
You might tumble the rougher pieces, but keep them separate from your
true sea glass, maybe on display in a dish. What a fun find!
A bit of play sand or even rough stuff out of the driveway will work. My little
Rolling Stones tumblers with a bit of grit and some water, then four days later
It is so nice to see this thread alive and well with new folks. :-)
I went to Harbor Freight here in Pocatello,Id. for a set of "picks" to remove small pieces of gravel from melted wine bottle glass and WOW,there in the area of "tool's" was a stack of 6 two drum tumblers on sale for $39.00. The one drum tumblers were $36.00 so got a two drum tumbler,I now have four drum's rolling..
Merry Christmas to all.
I am new to the group. Have been doing tumbling projects for a little while now. I have been following the thread for a few months and have read all the way back to the 2007's postings, so I sort of know what has been going on. My project right now is making tumbled glass windows. Like stained glass, but I am using tumbled glass.
Oh dear, I knew someone would ask me that. How do I upload pictures? Sorry, I wish I knew more about computers.
Today I finished making a geode using shards of glass I had left over from projects. I made a green one. Looks like emeralds.
I scooped out a section of a styrofoam ball (one of the small ones) with a spoon. I grouted the outside with gray grout last night and let it sit. Today I put in the shards.
I wanted to use all the fine ground glass I have for the center of it, but just could not get it to stick. So I had to use all shards. But it looks good, I think! haha
I used "3 in 1" glue and sort of pushed the shards in to the styrofoam and the glue held it in. The grout looks sort of primitive, but I think I can improve on it. I can add texture and some color to the grout to make it look more like a rock.
I will see if I can get my husband to load some pictures for me of the geode and the glass frames. I got the idea of the geode from the thread. Someone had asked if anyone had tried making a geode out of left over tumbled glass. No one responded, but I kept thinking about it.
Here's how it works for me, windrose:
When I post a reply, there's a box labeled "Image" immediately below and a button that says "Browse".
First I find the photo using "My Computer" (use whatever way is most comfortable for you).
Then I click the "Browse" button in the DG post and go to where that file is. A window similar to My Computer opens for me. I highlight the right file that is the photo I want, and then click "Open" in that little window. After a minute or so, there will be letters in the "Image" box that correspond to my photo's file name. Then I click "Preview" to make sure it's the right one, then after it shows up on my screen, I click "Send".
Hey I found a AWESUM site to buy Rock tumblers, LARGE or SMALL for whatever your needs. I got the 12 pounder for tumbling glass for windchimes. You can check them out if you like at http://www.rock-tumbler.net they got GREAT prices, best Ive seen on the web...Just FYI and have fun!!
I hope this works. I am posting a picture I took of the frame hanging in my window. The mini blinds sort of add lines in the frame that aren't there, but it is all I have. I will take one of the amber one I made (my favorite so far) without miniblinds. At least they are clean!
Now this geode I made was really just to see if it might be achievable. I really slung it together, so I know it looks really stupid. Too round and not enough grout on the outside of it.
I hollowed out styrofoam, grouted the outside and glued in small pieces of glass left over from another project. I think I can make the styrofoam more rock like in conformation by cutting and sanding. Also, I am going to try and color the grout to look more rock-like. Just got some amethyst colored glass, so will work on it soon. Also, I need more of a lip around the glass.
I wanted to put the really tiny, fine glass in the middle of it, but couldn't get it to stick.
uh oh, I am dangerous now that imapigeon taught me how to upload pictures! But here is a styrofoam head I made for a friend of mine's birthday. She put it out in her yard. The blue glass is from broken, tumbled, Reisling bottles.
Well, it is very exciting to get feedback, imapigeon. Like most of you, I am just puttering around with my tumbled glass. I don't really know what I am doing, just trying different things. I feel I could get some really good advice and feedback from this thread.
Another forum you might want to post on is "Mosaics and Stained Glass". I think some people there would also be interested in what you're doing, and you will get different input than on this one---I often post a project in more than one place. DG is a fantastic resource!!
Here is what I am currently working on. Ready to grout! The amber is mostly from Chimay Ale bottles I tumbled. But some of it is from some other beer bottles.
What is everyone else working on right now? I know most of you are in hibernation!
DH retired from the Army and got wanderlust... He works for the Army as a civil servant and decided that we needed some more adventures before we get too old.
It is really very cold here...like a month went by with only a couple of days "up" in the 20's. My "heavy winter coat" must weigh 20+ pounds and I can't even explain how the cold freezes the part of your legs that aren't covered by coat or snow-boot. We have come to an agreement that we will never live north of south Dallas/Fort Worth again (If we can possibly help it). This so called "real" winter is brutal/ugly!
Sort of, we got married in Beaumont and lived there for a while before he joined the Army. We have lots of family all over the state.
Right now I am not working on anything except ideas! I donated all of my crafting stuff and all of my tools are in storage back in the States, so for now, I am just working on ideas and I ♥ that table!
To respond to the idea of lighting the geode - check out www.glowinc.com. They sell paints that glow in the dark. I think it would be fantastic. They have forums on the website where lots of ideas are osted. From the descriptions of painting stars and comets I suspect you could use several colors on the inside of your geode and get a fantastic effect. In fact, I'll put it on my list of things to try when my kitchen is put together (first things first).
[quote="windrose"]I hope this works. I am posting a picture I took of the frame hanging in my window. The mini blinds sort of add lines in the frame that aren't there, but it is all I have. I will take one of the amber one I made (my favorite so far) without miniblinds. At least they are clean!
What was the Blue glass before it became part of the window??
I found some blue wine bottles in Oregon but,it's a little bit hard to find here in Idaho. As "they" say:Welcome to Idaho,end of the world,5 miles..
I used to get an Arizona Iced Tea flavor in blue glass, but I think they've switched to plastic, darn them. Yes, there's a water but I can't bring myself to pay for it just for the glass. However, I'm always on the lookout for cheap wine in blue bottles---THAT I'm willing to spring for...LOL!
hello- I saw all your great posts on tumbling and glass and wondered if I might ask for some advice?
I want to make dishes that look like seaglass. Could a tumbler (if there was a big enough one) do this or would the dishes break? Or any other ideas of how I could get a seaglass texture onto a plate size piece of glass?
(They would be to eat off of- so could't be sprayed with frost spray.)
Hello Everyone! (Wuvie especially...since you seem to be an old expert at this!) :-)
My name is Angie and I live in Lubbock, Texas. I came across this forum when searching for "how to make sea glass." I work at a NONprofit organization (hints the interest in making trash to treasure!) that helps adults with disabilities. We are getting into ceramics with molds, a kiln, and the whole bit to offer jobs to special needs folks and also are taking an interest in mosaics.
Once pricing mosaic glass, however, you realize that it is no cheap hobby. I think its such a neat idea to make sea glass instead.
SO... drumroll please... I made a trip to Harbor Freight and purchased my very own 3 lb capacity tumbler, smashed a wine bottle to smitherines, and am now "patiently" waiting for my glass to turn out like all of you old pros.
So I guess I just wanted to introduce myself and say thank you for the great community and good advice! I hope that my glass turns out.
I'm just home from Ca. where I picked up supplies for brown bagging and boxes of red and purple scrap stained glass. They are the hardest colors to find. Also got some amber blobs (random shapes) from an ebayer. Scrap stained glass is the cheapest way I've found for red and purple. I have tons (almost literally) of blue, green amber and clear. From the dump.
Well, this isn't about frogs (haha) but wanted to let yall know that I covered a kid's ball I got at a garage sale for 25 cents, with Quickrete, and then mosaiced it with tumbled glass and mirror. It turned out great.
The styrofoam balls I was using were $20 and I think I probably spent about $5.00 in Quickrete on the first one. I put on one layer of Quickrete, then that fiber tape, and another layer of Quickrete. The last two balls I made, I just did one layer of Quickrete because I don't think the smaller balls need all that much reinforcement.
Started covering a beach ball over the weekend. Very difficult to do. Once you have the Quickrete on the top or where ever you put it, the ball tends to roll (fast and suddenly!)to put the heaviness on the bottom. Sort of like covering one of those kids punching clowns. Putting the ball in a plastic container has helped. It is taking forever! I am going to reinforce it though, because it is so big.
My DH gets back Friday from D.C. and he took the camera. But will post one this weekend. The small balls were created from kids basket and soccer balls. The glass looks really 3D with the concrete behind it. Really pretty cool, and the mirror turns the yard into disco ball mode.
The beach ball is really hard to do. I am sort of discouraged. It is just huge. It has been alot of work just getting the first layer of concrete on it and I still have to reinforce it and put on another layer. Mixing the cement is really hard with arthritis. I don't have a mixer, just a bucket.
I am going to try and just paint it with metallic paints. Going to practice painting on one of the kids balls first, since I figure if I screw it up it won't matter since it will be covered with mosaics.
Wuvie, if you read this, didn't you say you had an issue gluing on top of paint? Is there something I need to know before I do this?
Wish I knew how to take pictures off my phone and send them to the computer!
I have a rock tumbler & just got a vibratory tumbler. Haven't had time to try them out yet but sounds great. I have different sizes of grit to use. Will start looking for cheapie tumblers at yard sales & ebay. I love that sea glass you made. Thanks for this article.
Thanks Wuvie (and others) for the welcome! I have been a busy bee since my last post after just recently purchasing my 3 lb tumbler... it literally has not stopped running since the day I got it! I've had tremendous results.
I have been dumpster diving for wine bottles, etc. and am already eye-ing the 35 lb capacity tumbler on ebay. :-) Haha. Someone said this thread led to developing bad habits... I think they were right! I also purchased a mirror today at a garage sale that I am planning on smashing to use in some mosaics as well.
I am finding like you all already know, that the hardest colors to find are the oranges, reds, pinks, and purples. We don't really have a stained glass supplier where I live, but I am currently tumbling broken plates, etc.
I will have to post some of the pictures of the mosaics that our special needs folks create using our glass.This thread has been a great help. I can't wait to share picts!
Finally got some pictures of the cement balls I made into gazing balls. This first one is green tumbled glass from wine bottles and broken mirror. Makes a great prism for the garden. The entire garden has prisms. I think this one was a basketball
Hi..I'm new to this site but not to sea glass!
I've been collecting it from beaches and shore lines for many years, but now was interested intumbling my own to get better colors.
I've read that using sea salt instead of sand work better.
Have you heard this?