Joe sells sea shells by the seashore

joeyI love it when the universe introduces me to the right people at the right time! This time Sea shell Joe was put in my path right on Main Street. And why was this so opportunistic you may ask? Well. I’m working on some sculpture pieces for an ocean themed art show at Alta Bates Hospital Gallery in Berkeley. In the pieces I am incorporating sea shells!

I invited Joe over to my Moontown Studio to show me his abalone shells. He emptied his plastic bin onto the floor so I could pick the ones I wanted. Oh what jewels they were – what beauties, with iridescent insides and incredible red sort of stripes on the outside.



I am rather selective about how I pick the materials I use for
my work. I must have magic blanketa connection with the place or the
person that I get the media from. That connection
becomes part of the story that I weave into my art. In this case, not only did I purchase some gorgeous shells, but I also got to learn so much about them (and that info will be in another post).

Joe touches each and every one of the shells when he cleans them and shines them with mineral oil. He collects them from some scientists who farm these Red Abalone in the Monterey area.

Joe travels up and down the coast from Carmel to Marin, reminding me of the Fuller Brush man who used to knock on the door of my childhood home once a month. He stops into small shops that typically sell to tourists that come to the seashore for the weekend or on holiday. He also sells to artists who incorporate the shells into everything from belts to wind chimes and jewelry. The interesting thing is that he travels by bus and hitch hiking, since he has no car. When I asked him for his phone number in case I need more shells, he said he has no phone and he would just stop by next time he was in town, probably in a month or so.

I was so charmed by his knowledge and gentlemanly manner, that Ander and I invited him to stay in a tent at our place, since he had one more stop in HMB the next day before he headed back down the coast. I cooked us up a veggie over rice dinner and we sat around our wood stove under the stars and talked about everything from politics to sea otters to traveling, for hours into the night.


Here are the beauties I selected. I can’t wait to get working with them


4 thoughts on “Joe sells sea shells by the seashore

  1. What lovely gifts come our way when we are receptive and paying attention to what has heart and meaning.

    I have been pondering the balance of being and doing and how doing is so highly overrated. As I read this I imagined the three of you, under the night sky, being…

    I found that image deliciously inspiring!

  2. I met Joe in Carmel and bought some of his beautiful shells as gifts. I was just telling my with about him and did a Google search. I’m so glad that you posted this so I could show my wife Joe’s kind face.


  3. We met Joe last Saturday and bought six great, large shells from him. He said taht he dug them up on a ranch near LA. He seems to be a kind and knowagable person and we hope to run into him again but with out a schedule it’s hard to know where he will be. This adds to the magic. It was delightful to have this brief and sweet encounter.
    Max and Kristin

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