Sharing the Aloha Spirit
Marylou Forrest is a beachcomber and jewelry maker from Santa Cruz, California. Marylou’s interest in sea glass started years ago on a family trip to Kauai. Little did she know that a jar of glass she brought home would introduce her to a community of friends around the world.
Marylou didn’t like going into the ocean, so she walked the beach while her husband and daughter surfed on their Hawaii trip. While walking, she saw some sea glass on the beach and brought the pieces home. “I never used to go in the water at the beach, but once I turned 50, that changed,” she says.
Since she discovered beachcombing, Marylou has literally and figuratively dived into her hobby. Through their shared interest, she has met people from around the world. She says that not only are fellow enthusiasts kind and generous, they’re the reason she found a name for her jewelry shop: Aloha Sea Glass. In the beachcombing community, Marylou found the tribe of people she’d been looking for her entire life. “To me, this group has such a spirit of aloha. They take you into their homes, they embrace you, they give you gifts, and they’re just delightful. They live aloha.”
“One of the joys of collecting sea glass,” says Marylou, “is being a part of the incredible beachcombing community.” Each piece in her collection brings back memories of the beaches she’s visited and the friends she’s met along the way.
Right when she started beachcombing, Marylou met one of her now-best friends, Terri, on a beach in Santa Cruz. After the second time they ran into each other, they’d already made plans to visit Fort Bragg, California, together. Before they could go, Terri told Marylou she was going to visit and take care of her stepmother in Hawaii—and also that she had the air miles to take Marylou with her. Marylou jokes that she and Terri’s “third date” was ten days in Hawaii.
Close to her home is one of Marylou’s favorite sea glass spots, Davenport, California, a beach famous for its beautiful multicolor glass and its treacherous surf. “I found these sea glass pieces by running into the surf at Davenport.” The pieces are in a book by her friend, Bev Jacquemet, The Sea Glass Rush.
Marylou’s newest favorite Davenport find is a beautiful marble. She thought it was a plastic bottle cap buried on the beach and was shocked when she pulled out a beautiful blue, green, and white shooter marble from the sand. The marble glows under UV and it was identified as a Vacor de Mexico “Mermaid” marble. It’s a perfect find for self-described mermaid Marylou.
Marylou brings her dogs to the beaches of Capitola and Aptos, California, where she loves finding fossilized sand dollars to use in her jewelry.
She recently checked off a bucket list item when she found an intact bottle with its original stopper in San Francisco Bay. “I literally was speechless,” says Marylou. “It was one of those times when I can’t speak because I’m so excited!” She loves finding bottles that have been melted in the dump site where they were discarded.
Another favorite find is a beautiful piece of UV sea glass from Fort Bragg, California. “I saw it tumble in the waves and I actually ran in to get it.” She calls it her “pawn” but thinks it’s probably the top of a decanter. It glows brightly under black light.
On the same beach, she found her only stopper with the cork seal still intact. She has been back to Mendocino with Terri many times, and now they both have huge collections of sea glass, sea pottery, beach metal, and more from Fort Bragg beaches.
“I was very lucky to travel to Seaham, England, in March 2019,” says Marylou. “Once I got there, I got to meet in person all my wonderful Facebook friends. And just like aloha, they took me into their homes, they fed me, they drove me to their secret beaches, they had parties, and they gave me gifts.” She found her first multicolor piece of Seaham sea glass on her trip—and much more—and she cherishes these colorful pieces.
She also traveled to Scotland to go beachcombing with her online friend, Nicola. “The first night I got to Scotland, it was pretty late, but we decided to head to the beach anyway,” says Marylou. “And, lo and behold, this baby was waiting for me. I could see it a mile away.” It is the nose of a torpedo bottle and she did a happy dance when she found it. She also found some interesting clay marbles that were possibly made by the workers at the local pottery factory decades ago to bring home to their kids. “Another happy dance!”
In January 2020, just before COVID hit, Marylou got to take a long-anticipated trip to Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn, New York. “And, once again, a gal I met once on a beach invited me to come stay with her for a long weekend. Her collection is probably one of the best collections I have ever seen.” Among many finds, she picked up a crown stopper from a perfume bottle and a tiny doll-sized milk bottle.
Marylou says, “The literal meaning of aloha is ‘the presence of breath’ or ‘the breath of life.’ Aloha is a way of living and treating each other with love and respect. Aloha is sending and receiving positive energy. Aloha is a way of living a joyful life. Aloha is what I have found in my sea glass community.”
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine May/June 2021 issue.
Marylou is a Beachcombing Club Member