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Friday, November 13, 2015

Beachcombing Around the World ❤︎ The Story behind Wandering Mermaid Sea Glass and Seashells

Believe it or not, all the seashells and sea glass I use in my bottles and other items in my ETSY shoppe was collected by ME from all over the world! I never buy any shells or sea glass and I believe that keeps the magick in my bottles and makes every piece I create all that more special! 

Beautiful sea finds from collection

I try to organize by sea treasures, but it is difficult!

My box of seashells that I use for art works

I always pack up my beach-combing treasures from wherever I
am inside a zip-lock bag and label it so I know where it is from
when I need it.

Lots of shells, glass an treasures of the sea ❤︎
Here is a world tour of my beach combing!

My favorite place in England to collect both sea glass and seashells is in Falmouth, where I spend time every summer.  Last summer I spent a lot of time at Porthtowan, which I loved and found some great shells! 

Porthtowan, England

Porthtowan Beach

Unfortunately, while strolling the beach looking for seashells and glass,  I also found a lot of jellyfish!

Lots of jellyfish washed up on the beach made
beach-combing a tricky stroll along
the sea's edge

But the quaint little beach town was adorable and very beachy. I loved it.

Some great finds after a day of beach-combing!

I always have good beach combing success at Swanpool Beach, where I find very tiny pieces of sea glass, which are my favorite.

Swanpool Beach

And Swampool is also great because they have nice beach snacks and a fun mini-golf course we ALWAYS stop at!

We always have a big group and play some mini-golf before
we leave for the day.

In the mini-golf course, there is a large water trap! -which is
actually a little sea inlet across the street from the beach.

A deal!

I love the little beach huts and always take time to sketch them
in my journal.
Swanpool as the sun goes down.

Stopping to have tea and a snack with my son before
heading home from our long day at the beach ❤︎


Heading north we always spend a day or two at Whitby, a magickal and mystical beach town infamously known as the place that Dracula arrived when the ship he was traveling in from Romania docked at Whitby Harbour.

Because the beach at Whitby is well visited, it is a bit difficult to do much beach combing, but the sea treasures I find always seem to be magickal!

Last summer, we had a few weeks in Scotland where I found a bounty of seashells and sea glass on just about every beach I visited

A mermaid work-of-art at a gallery in a small
town in Scotland near Argyll

An all day visit to Ostel Bay proved full of great beach-combing!  

Ostel Bay
Taking the days beach-combing treasures back to the house
we were renting, I laid them all out to dry for a few days.
 A big job!
I always pull out my favorite pieces to keep for myself and
add to my special collections. I particularly love sea glass
in the shape of a heart, like the dark green piece on the
far left side.
Trips to Tighnabruaich and Lochgilphead were fabulous too! 

Drying out more shells from a day out
beach-combing ❤︎

Venus Bay, Australia
When I lived in Australia, our friends had a beach house in Venus Bay, and I LOVED going there. The beach-combing was amazing and that is where I collected hundreds of my favorite little seashells that are spiral to a point and have unique stripes on them. I love these!

I collected hundreds of these tiny spiral shells when visiting Venus Bay.
I love the way they have unique striped markings on them.


Whenever I am in Northern California, I like to visit Mendocino and go to Sea Glass Beach, of course! It’s an amazing beach, very blustery and almost always windy and cold there, but I bundle up, get on my hands and knees and start collecting some of the amazing sea glass that washes up there!

Stinson Beach

I have to say the most exciting beach-combing find is when I find a perfect sand dollar. They are so delicate, it is nearly impossible to find one whole and undamaged.  Last year on my birthday, I was staying at Stinson Beach for the weekend and found several while strolling along on the beach at twilight. Sand Dollars are so special, I almost never use them for my works of art. I love them too much to part with them!

Lucky Sand Dollars from Stinson Beach

Spending half my life on the beaches  of Malibu and Pacific Palisades, I know the beaches well and where to find the best beach shells and glass. 

Malibu Pier

I almost never visit the beaches during the busy summer, but when autumn arrives and the beaches clear up, I am there strolling on the sands collecting treasures from my favorite beaches.

A good days work!

Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

On my last trip to Hawaii we visited the island of Oahu, and I have to admit I did not have a very successful time beach-combing. When I used to go there decades ago there was lots of amazing shells, glass and lava rocks, but the islands are so busy now most of the beaches are well picked over.

The best places to find sea treasures in Hawaii is in
secret hideaway coves.
On Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai, I have several secret, out of the way spots that are just little look-out spots or places to sit and watch the sunset, and those are the places I find the best shells and sea glass when I visit Hawaii. But there is a warning!!--It is thought that Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, gets angry if you take any beach treasures from the islands, and will bring bad luck to you if you take anything, besides the fact it is now illegal to collect there, so I now only admire the beautiful tropical sea things I find on the beaches there.

My Studio

I do my best to organize my shells by color and design

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About Me

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Courtney McNeil began studying painting and illustration in 1985 in London, England. Not one to stay in one place very long she continued perfecting her love of the arts while traveling the world studying painting and illustration in Europe, Hawaii, California, and Australia and eventually graduated cum laude with a BA in illustration and continued on to do her graduate work at the Royal College of Art in London, England.  A few years later she added to her creative interests and studied letterpress and bookmaking at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. After receiving her undergraduate degree she began work at the Getty Museum in Malibu for almost a decade which allowed her to study and work among some of the most famous classic works of art in the world from Vincent Van Gogh to Manet. Teaching in the galleries of the Getty started her career in Art Education. She has been teaching painting and drawing to young artists and adults at the Davis Arts Center since 2006.