Now that the Carter Sea Glass Color and Rarity Guide has been available for two weeks and has had an overwhelming response, first I want to say thank you. I can’t believe the response from all of you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the likes, comments, shares, kind words, support and purchases over the past two weeks. When I came up with this idea I knew it would be helpful for myself and some others, but I had no idea that so many were looking for this exact product! I thought it would be interesting to share more about how it all came to be.
What’s in a name?…. well, everything! After years of collecting and being a professional sea glass jeweler, I found the sea glass community was in a big discrepancy about what to call colors. Even in my own home, my husband Jon and I would debate about what the name of a color should be. I would call it “aqua” and he would call it “turquoise” then I would hold up a piece of glass that I would call “turquoise” and say to him “then what would you call this color?” and I would get a puzzling look from him, kind of saying “well I guess you have a point”.
For years now I have run into an issue with colors when it comes to custom orders. I specialize in sea glass engagement rings, 9 out of 10 rings the customer looking to propose will request a greenish blue/ aqua color for their ring. Not knowing exactly what color they mean by saying that, I will always send a picture of various shades of green, blue and aqua to have them select which color in the picture they are in search of. After selecting a piece, I often find they really meant a shade of blue, that I would consider “turquoise”.
In thinking about this in other terms, I am big on analogies. Suppose you were to hire someone to paint your living room. Obviously the painter would ask “what color would you like?” If you responded with “blue” the painter would be scratching their head. The actual shade of blue you end up with could a completely different blue than you had in mind because of interpretation. That is why paint colors have names and numbers associated with them to specify what “blue” you would like. I was in desperate need of this very same thing for sea glass.
Being involved in many online sea glass groups, I further saw a consistent difference in “color names”. From collector to collector or jeweler to jeweler, color names were all over the board. Or I would see collectors post a picture of a shard and say “What would you call this color? I have never seen it before.” So I decided to test a theory of just how different answers might be to the question “what color is this?” I posted a picture of 5 pieces of blue shades of sea glass on Instagram and Facebook asking “what would you call these colors from left to right?” After 50+ comments it was very evident that color names were completely all over the board. After many comments, I posted my “names” for the 5 pieces. I was surprised when a fellow Instagram sea glass jeweler Sunny Laursen of Sunshineday Designs commented:
I like your color names! And I will use them myself now! Color names unite.
That night I was discussing my little experiment with Jon while we were cooking dinner. With our two daughters giggling and playing peek a boo with each other, dinner cooking and sipping on our home brewed IPA, I suddenly had an epiphany. What if I were to set names for all the colors for the sea glass community?!?!
For years I have beachcombed and purchased sea glass from collectors all over the world. Jon would always tease me and ask “why are you saving all your best and most rare pieces? Why don’t you put them in jewelry?” I am sure glad I did not listen to that advice when I took the next step in creating this guide. I went to my stash of tens of thousands of pieces of sea glass to select one piece of each individual color. With my first selection of colors I had over 100 shades. I went through each color comparing and eliminating shades that were too close. I walked away for a few days and looked at the pieces again with a fresh eye and then came back to eliminate more. I asked my Mom, also an experienced sea glass collector, her advice on colors that were too close or colors that were missing. She added a few and took out a few. I was very particular in the colors I wanted to include. I wanted users of the guide to be able to distinguish without a doubt one color from another, none of them could be too close to each other. Now having a good grasp on a rough draft of pieces, Jon and I went to the fun part of naming.
Who has not joked about having the job of the person who names paint colors or lipsticks? Well we found it is really fun. We had some really funny names that were not used for anything else but our amusement. Some of those names consisted of “Banana not ready”, “Banana go bad” and “Banana go really bad”, we really do crack ourselves up. In all seriousness though we found naming colors can also can be challenging, which I did not expect. The reason it was difficult is because I set guidelines for naming conventions which made it challenging in some cases. First, I started with a few existing names that seem to already have been accepted as official names by the sea glass community. Existing names covered only about 15-20 of the 81 pieces I had ultimately selected for my color guide. For the remaining pieces I had a few rules I wanted to follow. I wanted each name to be a universal known color. For example, instead of naming a color something that is non descriptive and open to interpretation like “harbor town”, instead I used the name “steel blue”. I wanted a collector to be able to imagine the color without seeing the guide itself. If I were to name a color “harbor town”, the interpretation of that color could be very different from person to person. Naming a color “steel blue” gives the collector a better idea of the actual color because it is more descriptive. Another rule I wanted to follow was not to use words like; dark, light, pale, electric or deep for example. I wanted to avoid these words because I wanted to be consistent and using tone descriptive words for some color families and not others I thought would be inconsistent. Once all the pieces, except the last one that stumped us (which ultimately with the help of my neighbor (thanks Daphne) was named Wisteria, were now named it was time to start creating the guide.
The first step in creating the actual guide was to photograph all the pieces. This proved to be quite the process. I actually photographed each of the pieces 5 times to get the actual look I was trying to achieve. I ended up taking the pictures of the pieces outside in direct sun light. I flooded the pieces with light by surrounding them with white. I also raised the pieces off the surface of the area by putting them on a piece of clear glass to let the light shine through from all angles. Next was the photo editing process.
Although the guide gives the effect of all the pieces being one image, I actually created the cohesive look with each individual piece. After creating a separate image for each piece I was able to move them around and arrange them in whatever pattern I wanted. I arranged all of the pieces 6 different ways before ultimately selecting the fade from light to dark. Before coming up with a final design I needed to make sure the color was exactly what the actual piece of glass was. Perfecting each piece when it came to the color was an extremely tedious and lengthy process.
When I came up with this idea, I immediately started investigating the best local printer. After calling around and getting many quotes I settled on Sheriar Press here in Myrtle Beach, SC. Throughout the entire process, they were incredibly helpful and professional. I met with them at this point to show them exactly what I had in mind. With my 81 sea glass pieces in hand I met with them to show them my vision and explain how important it was for the printed version to have the exact colors as the glass. They were completely on board and ready to help in any way they could to have my home computer screen calibrated correctly, to investigating different techniques in photoshop to tweak the colors perfectly. After our discussion and seeing how my very rough draft of the guide looked on their computer screen which is true to print, I was ready to adjust the colors again. This process was the most tedious, also the most important part. Creating an artwork piece on a computer screen that is calibrated in RGB colors that is going to be printed in CMYK colors is more difficult than one would think. I wanted for users of the guide to be able to hold up their own shards and determine each color’s name. If the colors weren’t perfect it would not be useful. After countless hours at the computer screen, all in the daylight to be consistent, I was ready to print.
Sheriar Press printed my first proof. It was awesome to see my vision finally on paper. I laid out each piece of glass next to its picture on the paper and saw I still had perfecting to do, so I went back to my computer. More hours were spent color correcting, I would not have it any other way than perfect. A second proof was printed. We were almost there, more correction. A third proof, at this point I was honestly having dreams about these colors and decided it was perfect, so we went to press!
Sheriar wanted me to be there when they were printing to make sure everything was spot on, and it was. I was so excited to see the production in process. After so many hours of work it was a dream come true to see it in the hundreds printed. I didn’t sleep that night, I was so excited to share what I had created with the sea glass community.
Here is a list of the 81 color names
- Alligator Green
- Blue Hydrangea
- Blue Sea Foam
- Forest green
- Green Sea Foam
- Hunter Green
- Kelly Green
- Olive Green
- Powder Blue
- Sea Green
- Sea mist
- Slate Blue
- Steel Blue
- Swiss Blue
- Window pane
How to use the Carter Sea Glass Color and Rarity Guide
I created this guide as a useful guide, but also as a beautiful work of art. If your use is strictly for viewing, I advise framing it and hanging it in a favorite place of yours. To keep it looking bright and colorful for years to come, keeping it out of direct sunlight is probably best, unless you have protected it with UV safe glass.
If you are a serious collector or collect by hobby and have a desire to have your sea glass sorted by color, using the guide should be very helpful. Colors are tricky and if you have ever tried sorting your collection before you probably know this. First, start with general colors for example green, blue, brown in piles and then use the guide to divide and sort further. I am sure you will develop your own method for sorting using the guide, but here are some tips:
Lighting – Use the guide in a room that is lighted only by indirect sunlight. Using artificial light will make the colors completely different and make sorting difficult. Direct sunlight on the guide may create a sheen on the surface making the colors look different. Consistent indirect sunlight is best.
Background – When comparing your piece of glass to the pieces in the guide, hold your piece of glass on a piece of white paper. All of the pieces in the guide were taken with a white background, so in comparison yours should be similar.
Consistent with placement – Depending on the shape, size or pattern of a piece of glass, it may appear to be different colors. It is best to go off the color of a consistent thickness of the glass, such as the center.
Center in – Surrounding colors may trick your eyes. You may find it helpful to view one color at a time while determining a color. You can cut a hole in a white piece of paper so you can center in one color at a time to compare, also giving you a white piece of paper to hold your piece right next to the hole.
For naming in jewelry and artwork:
One of the major reasons for creating this guide was for this reason. If all jewelers and artist were to use the same color names, customers could shop in a variety of places and ultimately have matching products. It can be difficult for a customer to match jewelry items online because depending on how a picture was taken, the color of the glass can look different from website to website. However, if each artist used the guide and its color names in describing their jewelry, customers should have no problem making a set. For example if someone were to purchase a sea glass ring from me in the Carter Sea Glass Color “ocean” and then purchase a pair of earrings from another artist in the color “ocean”. If both artist used the guide then the customer would have a matching set. Further, if a customer has the guide and is making a custom order, the artist will know exactly what color the customer is referencing and expecting in the final product.
Things to keep in mind:
All the colors might not be on the guide. I created the guide to be useful for a general guide for the common collector. It is possible to find colors beyond what is here. I hope you find a bright bubble gum pink color piece of glass, it is just so extremely uncommon, like off the chart (literally), it is not included in the guide.
Some colors might be in between – As explained above, I started with many more colors for the guide and eliminated some colors that were too close. When sorting, drawing the line between colors is difficult, which is why I did it for you. With the guide you should be able to determine the closest color to your piece of sea glass.
Don’t use your computer screen to view – Computer screens are very inconsistent. Using your computer screen will give you very different results than using the actual printed guide. Further, printing the guide on your own computer is going to give you completely different colors as well. I made the guide very affordable ($19.99) for collectors. Using the actual guide is going to give you the best results. If you haven’t already, I hope you will consider it as a companion tool for your sea glass collection.
Without further ado
You can purchase the Carter Sea Glass Color and Rarity Guide for $19.99. It ships free in the USA and is also available worldwide. Thank you all for your tremendous feedback and support throughout this project.