Islanders find success with their sea-bean jewelry and art
They come from Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. They’re called sea beans, and the many-colored objects that wash up regularly on Galveston beaches are actually seeds and fruit.
And, each day, friends Nikki Olsen and Amy Satterly walk along the beach looking for them to use in their artistic creations.
“On a bad day, we might only find one or two,” Satterly said. “But on good days, Nikki has found as many as 50 of them.”
Olsen and Satterly met each other about a year ago through their jobs at the Galveston County District Clerk’s Office, they said.
“We both just really like the beach and got to talking and it all came together,” Olsen said.
Satterly still has a piece of sea-bean jewelry her father gave her and it inspired them to consider making sea-bean art, she said.
“People are interested in the fact that it’s locally found,” Olsen said.
There are more than 200 types of sea beans in various colors, they said.
Variety is a key reason people are so interested in them, they said.
“There’s never going to be another piece of art like that,” Olsen said. “They are all going to look a little different.”
The friends have made all sorts of sea-bean art — from necklaces to bracelets to knickknacks.
The process, from finding the beans on the beach to finished work, is a long one, they said.
“When you find them on the beach, they usually have barnacles and everything on them,” Olsen said. “So, you have to spend time cleaning them.”
When the bean is clean, the women turn it into a unique piece of jewelry, they said.
“I can spend as little as 30 minutes a day to five hours working on sea beans,” Satterly said.
Satterly and Olsen have been working together on the jewelry for only about five or six months, but the two already have become popular on the Galveston art scene, they said.
“The response has been overwhelming,” Satterly said. “Not everyone can come to the island, so it’s our hope to bring some of the island to them through our art.”
While the two friends might have turned sea-bean art into a successful venture, their project is still about what it was initially — two friends walking along the beach and looking for pretty and interesting objects, they said.
“It is really therapeutic,” Satterly said. “Sea beans are traditionally good luck, and so we are taking and making art and passing on those good feelings to someone else.”