Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Glass Love - Fishing boat floats.

Hello dear friends,

Most of you by now will know I love glass. I collect interesting bits and pieces of glass.
I have a collection of glass paper weights, a small but steadily growing collection of sea glass found on my local beaches and of course, beads that I love made by master glass artists (as well as the glass beads that I make myself).

Last month, I spent some time with friends at McCrae, a beachside locale on the Mornington Penninsula, near Melbourne.
While we were there we had a day trip to nearby Flinders and it was here that I came across these little beauties.
They are Japanese glass fishing floats. They were once used by fishermen in many parts of the world to keep their nets afloat.
I wish I could say I found them washed up on a beach, but alas, I bought them in an art gallery!

After doing a bit of further research about these fishing floats, I came up with the following information....

- they were traditionally handmade by a glassblower using recycled glass... often sake bottles. After being blown, a 'button' of glass sealed the hole. Sometimes a Kanji symbol was put on or near the sealing button to identify the float for trademark (sadly I have none on my floats).

- Glass floats have now been (mostly) replaced by aluminium, plastic or styrofoam.

- There are glass floats, which were once attached to nets, still drifting in the ocean today. They are often stuck in a circular pattern of ocean currents in the North Pacific. Currents beginning off the east coast of Taiwan flow past Japan, travel east across the Pacific before slowing down in the Gulf of Alaska. The currents then head south, and then are pushed northward to continue their circular pattern.
Although glass float numbers are decreasing, any that are washed up are likely to be on beaches that are close to these areas of ocean currents.... mostly the beaches of Alaska, Washington, or Oregon in the United States, Taiwan or Canada.

- It is estimated that floats that wash-up on Alaskan beaches are at least 10 years old.

- they do come in other colours - amber, amethyst and blue and the more rare and collectible red or cranberry hue. Other brilliant tones such as emerald green, cobalt, blue, purple and yellow were primarily made in the 1920's.

I find it amazing that these little glass floats are still just bobbing around out there.

I also came across this very interesting blog, The Glass Float Junkie, whilst researching the history of Japanese fishing floats.
You MUST check it out.. fascinating! You will be amazed when you see some of the photos, including bear tracks next to glass floats on an Alaskan beach! Scary!

The Glass Float Junkie also has this etsy shop if you are interested...

Well, that's your lot for today,
Hope you have a good one,


Carole M. said...

and they are delightful glass examples Jenni; a nice find for you (at the gallery).

Kelly said...

Very interesting, good find. I never knew they were originally made of glass, seems too pretty

Therese's Treasures said...

Hi Jenni,
Nice find and thank you for sharing the history of the glass floats.

The Artful Diva said...

Fantastic find - I love old glass too!

CraftyHope said...

Those are really pretty! I like that they're so simple and beachy, but still have so much history to them. Thanks for the education on them!
And, yes, the idea of some of them floating out there for years on end in really intriguing.

Pretty Things said...



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