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Adrift in San Clemente

By November 1, 2012November 11th, 2013Community

One local artist’s way of helping out the environment.

Susan Grover has always been an ocean lover. She was born and raised on the beaches and in the surf here in San Clemente. She’s an avid swimmer, runner and beachcomber. So the idea came naturally to her to use the treasures and trash that had washed up on her beloved beaches to express her love of the ocean through art.

“My love of collecting the different kinds of wood came to me during one of my daily beach runs with my dog Max (who’s now in doggie Heaven),” says Susan. “There was just such an abundance of all types of wood, and not just drift wood, there was all kinds so I started to collect it.”

Soon piles of meticulously sorted and stacked driftwood and other items filled her backyard. She sorted it by size and type: driftwood, painted wood from broken boats, and various other things discarded at sea. Her collecting soon became her obsession and outlet.

As she surveyed her massive collection she began to see art all around her, just waiting to be created. She had visions of infinite potential in these discarded treasures. So it began.

Susan takes tremendous pride in all of her creations; a lot of heart, some serious elbow grease, lots of time and an abundance of love go into each piece. This is incredibly high-quality stuff, similar to what you’d see in an issue of Coastal Living.

“I use jigsaws, nail guns and power screw drivers and various other tools to pull my creations together. They will last and last.”

“It started with my driftwood Christmas trees and wreaths,” says Susan. But it has grown into so much more.

“I found so many different types of things on the beach, I was shocked. Not just your typical beach glass, but old fishing buoys, dock lines, bottles, corks, sunglasses and trash, lots and lots of trash.”

As she continued collecting items on the beach, Susan began noticing how many straws there were in the sand. One day she actually collected 300 of them. She also noticed large quantities of bottle caps and old sunglasses.

“That’s when it occurred to me, the ocean has given me so much peace, joy and happiness my whole life, now it’s my turn to give back.”

From then on, during her collection trips she made it a point to also pick up trash.

Now she mindfully includes some of that “trash” into her charming coastal creations. Her one-of-a-kind collection includes not only Christmas trees and wreaths, but also items such as sailboats, sea horses, whales, fish – just about anything ocean-related and/or nautical. All elegantly adorned with shells, succulents, beach glass, beach rocks and whatever else she sees fit.

“My proudest creation to date is the huge peace sign measuring 30 inches across. I’ve had special orders requested for it from across the nation.”

You can see the gallery of her unique items and also find her contact information on her blog at

Also be on the lookout for the second annual Sea Horse Rodeo, a boutique showcasing a unique collection of gifts by local San Clemente moms, coming sometime before Christmas.