Terri Ryan is a beachcomber and artist who lives with her husband and two adorable dogs, Daisy and Chuck Norris, in Santa Cruz, California. She started collecting coastal treasures at a young age while on family beach visits. “I’ve been beachcombing for as long as I can remember!” Terri says. “As a kid in Hawaii I would always leave glass at my Grandma’s house and later my mom’s house. Then maybe at around 20, I realized it wouldn’t upset the gods if I brought it home to the mainland.”
Terri isn’t picky in choosing what, when, and where to collect. “If I find it at the water’s edge—beach, lake, river, stream—it is fair game!” She collects glass, pottery, wires, toys, and anything that doesn’t belong naturally on the beach.
She’s found most of her sea treasures on the California coast, but Terri enjoys hunting when she’s in Hawaii, though she says it gets harder and harder to find glass there as the years go by. Though she loves collecting on the California coast, Terri would love to travel to Ireland, Scotland, Greece, and Spain to beachcomb some day. Terri’s dream beach find is a fishing float.
Some of Terri’s favorite beach finds are pieces of metal, which she finds beautiful and mysterious. Her collection includes a piece of a metal advertisement for the 1939 Dodge Luxury Liner, a 1931 dog license from Fort Bragg, California, and a Monopoly bullet race car token from 1935, the first year the car was included in the game.
Terri beachcombs about two times a month, though she wishes she could go more. When she travels, she beachcombs with her girlfriends, and when she’s home, she goes with her husband and dogs.
Her daughter once found a round electric-blue sphere, which turned out to be the top of a perfume bottle stopper—and the rare find won them the $1,000 Shard of the Year prize at the first Santa Cruz Sea Glass Festival.
Terri thinks the sea treasures she picks up while hunting look best when displayed as a large collection. In her time collecting, she has amassed over 100 gallons of sea glass, which she stores in apothecary jars—a collection which she calls “the candy store.”
“My friends and family think my collection is beautiful, but I don’t think they understand the obsession,” Terri says. When she isn’t beachcombing, Terri works as a hairdresser and mosaic artist, crafting pieces incorporating windows, stained glass, and sea glass.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue.