Most of you know by now, that I have a sea glass problem. It's in all of my coat pockets, my beach bags, my car, and sea glass finds fill countless bowls and endless jars in my house. When Tom met me, he had no idea that he would be constantly fishing pieces of beach glass out of the dryer!
I started collecting bits of sea glass when I was only 7-8 years old on our beach on the Kitsap Peninsula. And until just a few years ago, I thought I was the only one who had this addiction. Low and behold - there's an entire community of people that are also sea glass obsessed!
Meet Aileen Cabral, of "The Art of Sea Glass", one of my favorite sea glass artists and now a good friend. I met Aileen on Facebook, and then met in person at the Sea Glass festival in Santa Cruz in 2010. Since then, I have been lucky enough to purchase several pieces of her sea glass jewelry. (actually, Tom bought it!) I wear it all of the time - with many compliments! My newest piece, an adorable little silver octopus is probably my favorite.
We met up at the Cayucos Sea Glass festival earlier this month, and came up with an idea, after a few glasses of wine while watching the sunset, to write an "interview" - enjoy!
1. How were you inspired to create your company?
I love to make things. I’ve always made some kind of artwork – murals, pet portraits and jewelry. When I started to make sea glass jewelry my friends really loved it, so I made more. When I find something I love, I make a lot of it – thus the need to start a company and sell it.
This is me, Aileen on the left
with my friend Kim,
who started me on this crazy
sea glass adventure!
2. How did you start the “Art of Sea Glass”? When?
My “big” start actually came from a little cameo appearance on the Travel Channel – on the show Treasure Hunter, Kirsten Gum. They were doing an episode on sea glass hunting and I made a piece of jewelry on the show. I got over 10,000 hits on my website that year alone. This was about 5 years ago. I still have customers that bought jewelry from me after that show aired – they come back over and over – which I love.
3. What or who do you feel is your biggest influence on your own design ideas?
The ocean is my biggest influence on most of my designs and some ideas were influenced by my oldest dear friend, Kim Ritner – she was the one who inspired me into making sea glass jewelry in the first place. (I used to do a lot of beading with natural stones)
One night we were looking through her stash of sea glass and I started wire wrapping the pieces. After a while I wanted to make more substantial jewelry so I got some books and taught myself how.
4. Why sea glass?
Mostly, because of Kim. She got the book “Pure Sea Glass” years ago and bought a sea glass pendant from an artist. I saw it and said “I can do that” – and I did. I love working with sea glass because every piece has a story and every visit to the beach is like a scavenger hunt.
5.. Do you have a design or artist's mentor, someone that has inspired you to push your boundaries? If you do, who is it and why?
I have a mentor who helped me tremendously with expanding my boundaries into the wholesale world. I met Dee Jansen, another artist, through a forum on WholesaleCrafts.com and she helped me with everything I needed to prepare for my first trade show. I didn’t even meet her in person until a year or more later.
6. What do you think is your true "uniqueness" with your products? What sets you apart from other jewelry designers?
My silver designs are definitely my uniqueness – they are different from most anything else out there that is made with sea glass. I make sea creatures that people just love. I have pendants made from molds of vintage and antique buttons. I come up with new ideas all the time. My jewelry isn’t just a piece of sea glass, it’s a piece of wearable artwork designed around the sea glass.
7. What are you, Aileen, most proud of? (can be anything!)
I’m proud that I was able to take a little hobby – sea glass hunting and jewelry making– and turn it into a viable business. My jewelry designs are in about 17 shops and galleries right now – and I’m always expanding. I’m actually really amazed that I’ve been able to do this – and I do it all. I’m the artist, photographer, web master, banker and bookkeeper.
8. If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?
I live in my favorite spot. Channel Islands Harbor. We moved from Horse Property (which was a dream come true) to a harbor house – which is another dream come true. I am so lucky to have the best husband in the world stand beside me. We are both so lucky to have lived in 2 dream destinations.
(Aileen's kitty, Cricket soaking up the sun!)
Check out Aileen's website, The Art of Seaglass, to find out how you too can own a piece of her art! I promise you that it will soon become one of your favorite pieces in your jewelry box.