Lori Castro is a beachcomber and artist from Castro Valley, California. She creates one-of-a-kind jewelry out of authentic beach glass for her business, Designed by the Sea.
Lori grew up spending her days boogie boarding and beachcombing on the beaches of Southern California, and then she moved to San Francisco as a teenager, where her love for beach treasures only grew and grew. Though she’s been an artisan her entire life, her transition from a collector to a beach artist happened much later, when she went on a surf retreat to Maui for her 50th birthday. She came across a pair of sea glass earrings in a small boutique and was inspired to create her own jewelry out of the treasures she had found on the beach.
“I started by dabbling with my designs and began wearing them. Soon, people were asking where I had gotten my jewelry,” says Lori. While out to dinner with friends, she was again asked about her jewelry, and her friends said, “You really need to start selling your jewelry!” She decided to follow her heart and opened her business, Designed by the Sea.
Though the beaches of Northern California are excellent for beachcombing, in 2019, Lori got the opportunity to travel to Italy and beachcomb there, and she has her sights set on the British Isles next. When on the beach, Lori collects everything from sea glass, sea pottery, shells, to whatever else Mother Ocean decides to leave on the shore.
Her favorite find so far is a very large, dark green “Mermaid Tail” with scales. She says she’s never been able to find out exactly what it is, but it’s certainly beautiful. Her bucket list find is a perfect large orange piece. Lori beachcombs with her husband, Tom, who has an expert eye for spotting sea glass and they often compete together for the “best find of the day.”
Before she started creating and selling her sea glass jewelry, Lori worked in the medical and dental field as an office manager. A few years ago, Lori retired and is now able to fully focus on her jewelry. “I am inspired every day by my love of the ocean, the gifts that it gives to all of us.”
Lori says her personality is reflected in her work—her designs are free, light, and airy. Every design starts with authentic sea glass straight from the ocean—never altered in any way. She uses a non-traditional style of free wire wrapping and says that most of the time the piece itself will decide where the wire goes. She takes great pride in all her pieces, and makes sure that every piece is beautiful, fun, and designed to be enjoyed for years to come.
Find Lori on Instagram and Facebook @designedbythesea and see more of her handmade sea glass jewelry at designedbythesea.etsy.com.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2020 issue.