So, What are 'FLOATS'?

History:

The first mention of the manufacture of glass fishing floats was in the production registry of Norway's Hadeland Glassverk in 1841.  The first evidence of their use by fishermen was also in Norway around that same time - being used with fishing nets as well as fishing line and hooks.

Japan's fishing fleet started using glass floats around 1910, and by the 1940's, glass floats had replaced wood and cork throughout much of the world.  Today, however, the use of glass in fishing floats have been replaced by materials like plastic, aluminum  and styrofoam.

There are still many glass fishing floats circulating around the currents of the Pacific Ocean, mostly from Japan.  The arrival of these floats on our west coast prompted Amos L. Wood to write in his 1967 book, "Beachcombing  for Japanese Floats" :

"For almost fifty years, Japan, our immediate neighbor across the Pacific to the west, has unknowingly been sending good-will messengers to our Pacific beaches in the form of lost fishing net floats. These runaways from her vast fishing industry still create as much mystery and enchantment as they did in 1918, when they first started to show up on the Oregon beaches."

Since that time in 1967, those "good-will messengers" from across the Pacific have dwindled.  However, the tradition of finding glass floats on the Oregon coast has been continued by local glassblowers.  We use the same techniques that were relied on back in the 1800’s to create hand-blown glass Floats.  Floats have become more decorative than functional, but still tend to capture that “mystery and enchantment” that Mr. Wood describes in his book.

How Floats are Made:

Floats are blown on the end of a steel blowpipe by blowing into the opposite end, inflating glass that's been softened at over 2,000 degrees F.  Once blown, the float is cooled to 1,000 degrees F. and broken off the pipe - leaving a small opening where the pipe was. 

Glassblowers sealed the traditional fishing floats by fusing a “plug” of molten glass over the opening, then shaping it to roughly match the curve of the float. 

Modern Floats are also sealed with a "plug" of molten glass, but that “plug” is manipulated in different ways for different uses.

Our various Oregon Float® blown glass floats:

The Oregon Float®  brand of hand-blown glass floats is created exclusively at Ocean Beaches Glassblowing & Gallery in Seal Rock, OR, and includes each of the styles of blown glass floats described below.  The Oregon Float® label assures that you will be purchasing a locally hand-made piece of glass art, since it is quite common to find cheap blown glass items from overseas at even the most reputable of art galleries.

Our standard Sitting Floats are our most popular style, and are most similar to the original fishing floats.  They're blown to the desired size, then that "plug" of glass is fused over the opening and flattened into a base for the Float sit on.  They're available from 3.5" (Mini-Floats) to 10" in diameter, with the 6" size being our most popular.

Our Hanging Floats are a bit of a variation from the original fishing floats.  Where that last plug of glass on fishing floats was usually rounded off to fit with the overall curve of the float, we stretch it out and curve it to form a hook from which the Float can hang.  It's a great option if you'd rather have a Float in a window, for instance.  They're available from 3.5" (Ornaments) to 10" in diameter, with the 6" size being our most popular.

Our Lighted Floats are unique in that there is NO "plug" of glass sealing Float (i.e., it will not actually float!).  Instead, the  opening is left open to allow a light bulb to be placed inside the Float.  Lighted from within, the colors of the Lighted Float provide a spectacular display you rarely get to see in blown glass!  Plus, we have a couple of woodworkers that hand-craft Light Bases for us, just for this purpose.   

The Treasure Float does have a glass "plug" to seal the opening, but it's made separately from the Float and attached later.  That "plug" of glass is flattened on the marver rather than on the Float.  So, once you put your “treasure” inside the Float, you seal it with that flattened "plug", creating a permanent blown glass display case!

All floats presented here are hand-blown by glass artist Bob Meyer of Seal Rock, OR

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Ocean Beaches Glassblowing & Gallery is owned and operated by Bob and Vicki Meyer.  Bob is the primary artist of the gallery.

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