NOTE (April 9, 2019) – Glass floats will ship late May. I'll be traveling until then.
Some of my most prized possessions are things I've found on remote Alaskan beaches. Old glass fishing floats are right at the top of the list. I've been finding them one at a time for almost 30 years. They are usually so rare that one found at a high tide line not only makes my day but my entire summer. On occasion I'll find a few after a storm. They hide in high tide lines, sometime thousands of feet inland where heavy storms have breached the bank and surged. Each one is a precious and historic art object from Alaska's fishing past.
I personally found every one of these glass fishing floats over the last decade on some of the most remote beaches in the world where I fish in Western Alaska. These are historic art objects and I want to share them with my friends and customers. Along with amazing seafood, I hope they help solidify a connection between you and remote and wild Alaska.
These are all between 3-3.5" in diameter and come in a variety of colors including dark green, blue, clear, light blue, etc. Some have a seam while others do not. Very few have the original netting in tact but most do not. Some have the net pattern sand blasted into the glass while others are totally clear. Some are uniformly sandblasted from decades on the beach. Some have air bubbles in the glass and others have different colors of glass swirled together. Some have Japanese characters stamped into them and other have symbols of unknown origin. Some are chipped and some have a little water inside but do not leak. If you would like one, you can leave the choosing up to me or you can give me some notes in the notes field when you order. In the end, the one you get will be completely at my discretion.
Order anytime and I'll ship to you in a medium flat rate box via USPS. These will never be shipped with seafood even if you order them together.
Glass fishing floats were used by 19th and 20th century fishermen in the North Atlantic and North Pacific to hold to top of their net afloat. Some of the earliest uses were in Norway in the 1840s. Russian, Korean, and in particular, Japanese fishermen used them near Alaska starting in about 1910. They are called ukidama or bindama in Japanese. The floats were webbed with twine then tied to the net. In the course of fishing, many broke lose and joined the currents of the ocean, eventually washing up on beaches all around the North Pacific. To this day they still wash up after big storms. While some may have been afloat for years, others washed ashore shortly after being lost and were buried in sand. Storms reveal them and wash them back into the ocean, then they are redeposited somewhere else.
Glass fishing floats were made by hand often onboard fishing boats from recycled bottles, often sake bottles. While some where blown into 2 or 3 part hand carved wooden molds (these have a seam), others where blown free form (these are often a wonky shape with no seam). Rarely I find one with the original netting still attached. Others show the net pattern sand blasted on the glass. These presumably washed ashore and were sand blasted by the elements before the net rotted off, leaving the amazing net pattern in clear glass. Others are net free with entirely clear glass. Most have air bubbles and some have different colored glass swirled together. Some are dark green, some are blue, some are almost totally clear, but most are a light blue. Some have mysterious markings that make the country of origin hard to determine, while others have Japanese characters stamped into the glass.