Sunday, January 3, 2010

Beach Treasure

Ever dreamed of living on board a sailboat, voyaging through the Pacific? That’s exactly what Nelia, proprietor of Beach Treasure along with her husband and three year old daughter, have been doing for the last few years!

Life on the boat is a mix of paradise and fear – on the one hand, relaxation and wonder, with the ability to walk endless uninhabited and rarely visited beaches. On the other hand, a little change in the weather or slight inattention can easily destroy your home and threaten your life. Either way, Mother Nature dictates where you go and what you do; the tides and the wind rule your activities. What an adventurous life!

Nelia has focused much creative time on jewelry making. Nature is her inspiration, whether the ocean or mountains; especially the small things in nature: how curly vines grip around their support plant, or the shape of the curves of a leaf or a flower; how the gentle waves on the beach push up the beach and then swirl in their retreat. Most importantly, the quiet and space of nature allows for thinking and pondering, and therefore creating.

Nelia attributes her love of crafting to her upbringing. Her parents were both crafters/artists and do-it-yourself types. Through her youth, she was encouraged to try new and different crafts: papermaking, photography, knitting, ceramics, flower pressing, weaving, and wood carving. She remembers as a preschooler making oddly deformed dog or dragon-like animals from clay, firing them and painting them. A little older, she recalls trying to carve a rooster out of a little block of wood.

Walking the beaches has led to the collecting and hoarding of shells, and the creation of her fabulous beach-inspired jewelry. Nelia is addicted to hoarding and collecting the shells she finds on the sandy or rocky shores she walks.

As you might imagine, living on boat has more than its share of hoarding challenges. Space is limited on a sailboat, so every nook and cranny is filled with something. Shells are everywhere: jars and boxes of shells, mostly stuffed down in the furthest corners of the lockers so it doesn't appear that she has so many! But it’s still a challenge to keep it all under control: either her most recent container of collected shells is out and in the way, or her little girl is spreading them all over the boat! Nelia also loves to sew, and says she has far too much fabric (is there such a condition?). Some of the fabric she’s been carting around for a ver long time, but when you are starting a sewing project, variety is essential, especially with no store nearby to fill in the gap.

Other than shells, fabric and other crafting supplies, Nelia says she’s also guilty of hoarding food supplies. Since she lives in remote areas much of the time, it’s necessary to stock up on the things that will last, such as grains and beans, sugar and flour. When she can, she also stocks up on specialty items like good chocolate, special teas and pine nuts. Her problem, of course, is that with these hoarded specialty items that she may not be able to find for another six months, they frequently go unused because they are too 'special' and should be saved for when they are 'really' needed!

The most unusual hoarded item Nelia has is the vertebrae of a dolphin that she found on a beach about ten years ago. She’s got it down in one of the lockers, no sure what she will ever do with it. She also has some Pacific black pearls bought from a pearl farmer. They are still mostly tucked safely away, as she is too nervous to drill a hole into them for fear of destroying the pearl.

For Nelia, one of the joys of hoarding is looking through her supplies, poking through things, sorting and seeing what she has to make future projects. Looking through her stash always inspires new ideas of things to make or how to make them.

Nelia loves crafting with her young daughter, painting, cutting, and gluing, and drawing. Another generation of crafters in the making!

Photos show Nelia's sailboat at anchor; husband and daughter in the middle of a sail repair; Nelia sorting through the stash with her daughter; handcrafted octopus, as well as completed creations currently available in the Beach Treasure Etsy shop (



  1. What a life! So different than what I'm used to. Sounds idyllic, really. It would be difficult to store your hoards~so I need to quit complaining and "embrace my space!"

  2. Wonderful! That sounds like a marvelous way to spend some years. I think it might make my collecting problem bigger if I felt I could not get supplies when needed. The part about being away from society's constructs is appealing.