Making jewelry from sea shells has occurred to me before (one
of the thousand ways to make money which never made it to my
resume). But making jewelry from beach glass? That's a great
idea, and just one of several covered in this Working
Outside Contest entry from California.
Unusual Ways to Make Money at the Beach
Claudia M. Doege
Living in Southern California has many advantages. No,
I'm not talking about Hollywood or Disneyland. I'm referring
to all of the unique climates that converge within 100 miles
of downtown Los Angeles: pine forests, mountains, deserts and
Aah, the beach. The reason California may topple into the
ocean someday has nothing to do with earthquakes, and everything
to do with millions of people trying to live, work and play as
close to the beach as possible. Some even make a living at the
beach using normal methods such as food (restaurants, food stands,
etc.), amusement (carousels and rides, street magicians, skate
rentals, etc.) and even using metal detectors to sweep the sand.
photo by Dennis Redfield)
But there are not many people who make a living using what
is at the water's edge. Two women come to mind who make nature's
jewelry from what washes up onshore. One successfully sells her
sea glass jewelry in a shop in Ventura, California (coastal town
between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara), and does amazingly well
with necklaces, earrings and such made from glass that the Pacific
has given back. Just like the rocks that wash ashore, the glass
has been smoothed by the water into unusual shapes and pastel
colors. She drills holes into the glass to attach gold or silver
wire, and then artistically wraps the wire around the glass making
the designs even more unusual.
The second woman sells her unusual wind chimes and mobiles
at local arts and crafts fairs. Made with driftwood, sea glass,
shells, smooth rocks from the beach, bird feathers (anything
from gulls to pelicans, all no longer used by their original
owners) and anything else she finds (like rusty old cowbells),
she easily gets $30 or more per chime/mobile.
Arts and crafts aren't the only way to make money from
the bounties of the ocean. Just offshore from Ventura Harbor
is Channel Islands National Park, which is comprised of five
islands and a mile of ocean surrounding each one of them. The
size of the underwater area makes this park unique because more
than half of the park is under water. The protection of this
amount of ocean has also provided unique opportunities for people
who think outside of the box.
Under the islands is the one of the largest kelp forests
in U.S. waters, and it is home to over 1,000 different marine
animals. Because of the amount of available food and safety provided
by the forests, several species of whales come to visit, from
humpbacks to migrating gray whale mothers and calves, to the
elusive blue whale. When the Park Service shut down much of the
area for fishing, a few innovative fisherman took what was in-hand
and have made a successful living from it. Several fishing boats,
either permanently or in off-season, are now licensed by the
Park and take visitors out to the islands for camping trips,
kayaking, dolphin and whale-watching excursions and even scuba-diving
adventures in the kelp forests. Of course, they also sell merchandise
related to all of the marine life in the area in the store they
own where visitors wait for their tours. Pretty smart.
However, simple is always better. One day at Ventura Harbor,
I saw an Asian couple clambering over seaweed (kelp) covered
rocks. Upon closer inspection, I realized that they weren't trying
to avoid falling off the slippery rocks, they were harvesting
the seaweed from them! Having seen this couple more than once,
I can safely assume that some local restaurant offers fresh seaweed
on its menu!
Thanks Claudia. The beach jewelry part got my attention especially,
because as children we spent summers on the beaches of Lake Michigan,
and collected beach glass. Old Coca Cola bottles were transformed
by the waves into pastel green rounded shapes. Purple ones were
common too, though we never did figure out what they started
out as. And alas, we never thought to make them into jewelry
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