Becky Thielbar is an artist and creator who makes necklaces, earrings, rings, car charms, and more out beach finds from along California’s Monterey Bay. As a young girl, she’d get inspired by a bit of sea glass, shell, or driftwood, and then collect enough to make whatever she’d been inspired to create. Today, Becky is an avid beachcomber and mudlark and uses her coastal finds to create whimsical jewelry and other coastal accouterments for her company, Mint Jellies. “The found item has always been a vehicle for my creative process,” says Becky. “I’m drawn to honoring discarded items; their past purpose and beauty and then bringing them back to life.”
Becky collects sea glass, pottery, shells, fossils, beach stones, beach metal, driftwood, spark plugs, pipe stems, stoppers, doll bits, and more. Thanks to the beachcombing community she’s been able to identify some of her unique finds and her bucket list is long. She beachcombs often with her friends Marylou Forrest and Lori Christofferson, as well as her husband Steve on the stellar California Coastline. “Beachcombing in England and Scotland was a dream come true, as was mudlarking on the Thames.” Becky says. “I cried a lot of joyful tears on those beaches and on that foreshore.” But ultimately, she loves the beach she’s currently on the best, wherever that may be.
Although she first experimented with creating using beach-related materials when she was seven or eight years old, she started working with sea glass again in 2010 when Steve bought her a Dremel drill. After a lot of trial and error, she mastered drilling and started making jellyfish sun catchers and dream catchers using sea glass and fibers. In 2016, she took a metalsmithing class at the local community college. She loves the new things she makes with metals, but still likes making the dream catchers. “I’ll whip up a batch every now and again,” she says.
Becky’s playful personality comes through in the colorful, funky jellies while the more serious side of her shows through her attention to quality, making sure the silver edges stay smooth as butter.
Her process is very hands-on. Usually, an idea pops into her head and she’ll figure out how to make it happen, working it out as she goes. Inspiration comes to her in many different ways whether it’s the found object itself that sparks an image of what it could be, an experience, a special moment, or an intense emotional response to the lyrics of a song.
“Sometimes inspiration is a gift, coming in a dream, and sometimes it comes from the way a tree branch curves, the way two colors play upon each other, or the shape made by a strand of my daughter’s hair stuck to the wall of our shower (I know…ew, LOL, but true),” she muses.
When she’s not creating or beachcombing, you can find Becky taking her elderly dad-in-law on a coast drive three days a week and catering to the various needs of her family’s six cats, who are royalty in her home.
Find Becky on Instagram and Etsy at @mintjellies.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine November/December 2021 issue.