Rock Tumbling

I was very late in getting Ms. J a Christmas gift this year, so we had Christmas in March!   Yes, I was three months late in getting a Christmas gift!


It’s a rock tumbler! And yes, she did ask for this. In case anyone doesn’t know what it does, the rubber cylinder is filled with rough rocks and grit or sand, the cylinder then spins around and the grit smooths out the rocks.  My Mom can tell stories of how my older brother had a rock tumbler when he was about 10 years old and how much noise it made.  Apparently it was loud enough to knock fillings out of teeth.  I’m sure the technology has advanced in the past 40 years since this one is not that loud, but we do keep it in the basement.

It can take a few weeks to smooth out the rough edges on a small stone, but we’re using it on pieces of glass instead, which takes only about 3 or 4 days. Here’s our first attempt at getting mosaic glass pieces.

We’re using a Plymouth Gin bottle for our first experiment.  (Hmmm…..this might give a bad impression when a stay at home Dad blog includes a post about the first thing used in a craft project is a gin bottle!)


There’s an etching of a friar on the back of each bottle, when his feet get dry that’s when you know it’s time to get more gin!




It is surprising hard to smash a Plymouth Gin bottle, the glass is very thick, which is one of the reasons we wanted to use it.  Mr. C enjoyed smashing the bottle with a hammer, which must have taken about a dozen hits to break.  How many day care providers would allow a 4 year old to smash a gin bottle with a hammer ?    There are benefits to having a stay at home parent after all, so many new experiences that all the other kids who are in day care are missing out on.  The bottle was wrapped in a thick towel, and he had on safety goggles, so I’m not completely crazy.  I’m sure my Mom thinks we’re crazy though for getting a rock tumbler, she must have had flash backs to the jack hammer sounds of my brother’s tumbler of years ago when I told her about it.

Here’s the result!   Not every piece can be used, though we’re already working on more.

We’re working a blue glass bottle now, which seems to be a hard color to find.  We’re looking for red glass bottles too, if anyone can think of anything that comes in a red glass bottle let me know!



12 thoughts on “Rock Tumbling

    • This past summer we were at a craft fair where an artist displayed her sea glass mosaics. She told us that all of the glass came from her beach combing. While her art was impressive, we were dubious about the beach combing claim. We rarely see sea glass anymore when we’re at the beach, if we see anything it’s plastic not glass. So that was our inspiration on trying to figure out how to do what she was doing ourselves.

      • I think you’re right – I’ve read that in these days of recycling glass just doesn’t end up in the sea any more!

  1. I can’t believe you can still get those things! I had one when I was a kid…I loved collecting rocks. It was hard for my parents to find back then without the Internet. There was a place called “The Rock Shop” that they were able to buy it for me. It’s an exercise in patience…

    • It was easier tofu d than I thought it was going to be. This is a small one, there are others more than twice the size which are probably used by professional jewelry makers.

  2. You have most excellent taste in gin! And it’s nice to see the bottle getting a new life. Philips Milk of Magnesia used to make the best “sea glass,” and were always highly prized when found on the beaches at Long Branch or Sandy Hook. Now I think Bud has a blue glass bottle and there may be a grocery store riesling that comes in that lovely cobalt blue. Red’s a bit tougher. Tynant made a special edition red bottle about a decade ago. If no product is readily available in red glass, try

    • That’s right! Now you’re bringing back memories, my grandmother had some Philips bottles that my older brother smashed up and ran through his tumbler. For red, I’m tempted to buy some hot sauce since some of the smaller brands come in red glass bottles. Thanks for the link to Hobby Lobby, we don’t have that store around here, so it’s not top of mind for me.

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