Crafts Using Sea Shells

This natural material comes in many shapes and sizes and can be a part of some interesting projects. This guide is about crafts using sea shells.
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November 11, 2016 Flag
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This is a guide about making a seashell picture frame. Use your seashell collection to create a beautiful picture frame.

A picture frame made from seashells.

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October 31, 2016 Flag
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Certain types of glue work best when working on projects involving gluing shells to other objects. This is a guide about using the right glue for seashell crafts.

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August 25, 2010 Flag

This is a gorgeous, romantic, and elegant craft which can be applied to a number of other crafts as an enhancement, although it is completely stunning on its own! The shells (if you live near bodies of water) are free, which is the best part!

Two sea shell roses.

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June 27, 2008 Flag
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Supplies

  • dollar store Styrofoam wreath
  • hot glue gun
  • gollar store shells and colored rocks
  • clear sealer
  • glass candle kolder
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  • glass paints (optional)

Directions

  1. I painted some of the shells, but they can be left plain.
  2. Glue them however you want them.
  3. Spray with clear sealer, makes it shine.
  4. The candle holder is glass painted, I buy glass paints only when they are on sale.

This looks beautiful in your bathroom and you can use colors that match in yours.

By Sheri from Stockton, CA

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June 27, 20080 found this helpful

The wreath is so cool! Thanks for sharing!

Lisa fr/ Indiana

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July 1, 20080 found this helpful

Wow -- that's cool! I've never been into the beach decorating scheme, but these shells are fun! Thanks for sharing.

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January 13, 2005 Flag
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I previously replied to a request of what to do with excess shells. I explained how I decorated wooden or chipboard (MDF in Australia) mirror or picture frames with shells.

I recently made one for a friend who celebrated her 40th birthday on the weekend. She was delighted with it so I thought I'd share the picture I took and how I made it.


Firstly, clean the frame with a dry cloth to get rid of any dust and grime. I chose acrylic paints in tubes and used a bristle brush in a circular and criss-cross fashion to give it a suede look. In this particular instance I chose a bright yellow with cream overtones to make it less bright.

I painted both the front, back and the backing piece to the mirror.

While the paint was drying I went onto the computer using the Word Art tool. For the uninitiated, you go to the Insert tab, then scroll down to picture, and across to a menu, until you find Word Art. It will let you type in whatever you want and give you options for colours and the shapes of the text you want. What it does is that your text will go in waves or whatever shape you have chosen. It can give your text a nice touch.


I then cut out the text and also cut enough gold braid to go around the cut out paper. That way it defined the text and showed me where the shells should stop. I then spread PVC glue (wood glue) thickly onto the frame in sections and placed the shells (big and large) in a haphazard way. If you become too regimented about symmetry, it can look too contrived. On the top where I placed the text and trim, I found a nice small colourful starfish to cover the join in the gold trim. It covered it up nicely.

Before the glue dries, sprinkle gold and silver glitter (not too large grade) in amongst the shells and inbetween where the smaller shells are. In between the bigger shells I had placed minute tiny shells to take up the spaces in between the larger shells. I found a zip lock pack of tiny mother of pearl coloured tiny shells. Ideal for filling in spaces and giving added colour. If you have larger shells that may look a little boring, don't be discouraged. I found I needed some fan shells, but the ones I had were old and had lost their colour. I grabbed my youngest's pencil case and used some of her pencils to add a bit of colour. As you ended up spraying the whole piece anyway, the colour won't fade.


Once the glue has dried clear and hard, spray with a clear matte or shiny spray varnish (lacquer) to seal everything. The glitter will fall off if not sealed properly.

You don't have to have a message or text up top of the mirror, that's just what I chose for this particular frame. I included a scripture verse about God throwing our sins into the depths of the ocean, which I thought was really appropriate since I was using shells- and added a note to the verse which said, "And that means absolutely no fishing!"

There you have it, a really inexpensive present which ended up looking like a million dollars and great fun making it. My 14 year old daughter and I had so much fun making this present and it gave us some time together. You can even get your littlies in on the action, placing a shell here and there and it makes them feel special as well because they're able to help out.

Enjoy!

Regards

Bev in Western Australia

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

That is one of the prettiest ones I have seen. Great job!!!

LI Roe

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July 14, 20080 found this helpful

Bev,

where did you get the mirror? I am in the US and have been wanting to do something like this for my girl's bathroom mirror and I'm having a hard time finding one! Beautiful job! You've inspired me to do one!

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January 31, 2007 Flag
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My 5 year old son picked up a ton of seashells while we were at the coast this past summer and I need Ideas of how to use the sea shells in a crafts. I've decorated a picture frame but there are bunch more and he enjoys crafting. Any ideas?

Christy from El Paso, Texas

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October 29, 20080 found this helpful

I found using a dremil on low and slowly drilling the hole releasing pressure off and on helps with less breakage. This way you don't break through the end so quickly. Also drill the inside so the arch is flat. Hope this helps.

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December 21, 20080 found this helpful

When we go to the beach we always have TONS of shells we bring back and we have no idea of what to do with them. So finally we came up with the idea of putting them on inexpensive frames to "dress them up a bit". They are really cute and fun.

Materials needed are: hot glue gun, (and glue for it of course), a simple picture frame, and plenty of sea shells. Then you go at it with your own creative touch.

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February 17, 20090 found this helpful

I would like to share with all beader friends about making of Sea Shell Jewelry that I posted at my blog.

http://jewelry-skills.blogspot.com Have fun!

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February 17, 20091 found this helpful

See my website www.etsy.pattiseashell.com for lots of seashell craft ideas.

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June 8, 2010 Flag
4 found this helpful

This was one of the most fun and memorable things we ever did on a beach vacation with the kids. Sandycast faces made with sea shells.

Comb the beach for great sea shells, broken ones can be cool. Collect shells in a used onion bag, it makes it easier to wash off the sand before you use them or take them home.

Bring some plaster of Paris and an old beach pail and something sturdy to mix it with. Make a shallow, face shaped hole in the sand on the beach. Chose the shells you want to use for eyes, nose, mouth, etc. Keep the shells faced up to see the effect of how they will look when completed.

Reverse the shells and pour the plaster of Paris into the shallow hole. Carve your initials and year on the back. Give it enough time to set before you uncast it. Do not brush too much sand off of the sandycast.

Everyone will love them! They can be displayed on a plate stand because no one will want to put them away too soon. Have fun making memories, kids!

Source: Family Fun Magazine, many moons ago.

By Mother Goose from Royalston, MA

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August 20, 2009 Flag
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We had a lot of left over little seashells we gathered at the beach. This craft uses up some of those shells for a cute keepsake for all of those wonderful beach memories!

beach collage

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January 20, 2011 Flag
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How do I put silver edging on a seashell?

By Tonya from North Port, FL

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January 26, 20110 found this helpful

If you're talking about "real silver edging", then you must of course, use melted silver, being careful to just dip the shell edges in the liquid silver. This method requires the most costly way of silver edging, and some of the more expensive tools etc. If you're just wanting to make decorative shells, then you can buy an acrylic metallic bright silver paint and a tiny fine line artist brush.

I have added a "silver blush" with Bright Silver Accent or Rub N Buff. Any sort of shell collecting and work is very rewarding as sea shells are already perfectly shaped and naturally formed into the most beautiful bits of art.

Have fun and good luck. Hope this helps.

Pookarina (5th Generation Native Floridian)

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January 27, 20110 found this helpful

For just a quick edging of silver sparkle, get some clear finger nail polish with silver flecks in it. It gives great highlights, and you don't have to be too very accurate. Have fun!

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July 28, 2008 Flag
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You could do a lot of different things to make this craft your own. Make a 3-D thank you note, make a journal entry about a vacation or the beach, or just make it decorative. Use seashells and other items you may see along the seaside.

Foam board decorated with seashells and a poem or other saying.

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November 13, 2004 Flag
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I've bought picture frames (with wide borders) from the Goodwill or other thrift stores. I use craft paint (any color) to paint them and then a satin varnish. Then I hot glue a variety of shells to the frame. I use shells I pick up at my beach and the frames cost only a couple dollars.

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January 31, 2007 Flag
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I live across the road from a beach so I find things like shells and fossils. Do you have any ideas what I can do with them? For example, I could collect them for making necklaces, perhaps to sell. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Jen

Answers:

Seashell Wreath

I saw in Woman's Day magazine (6/25/02) where they had made a wreath out of nothing but seashells. In fact, they had colored them. I tore out the page and saved it. Here are the directions they give...

1. Create colors for shells following pkg. directions for mixing dye (they used McCormick green and teal). Wash and dry shells collected from the beach.

2. Dye about 2/3 of the shells one color (they used green), 1/3 another color (they used teal), following dye instructions. Air-dry face down on paper towels or use a blow dryer. Re-dye to darken shade to blend or to blend two colors. Color may be uneven due to shell structure, but that is part of the look.

3. Tint fabric in dye if you like, using vinegar in rinse or dye if suggested by manufacturer. Dry and press. Cut or tear long 1" wide strips across width of fabric. Round off front edges of wreath with knife. WRap strips around wreath overlapping edges to cover foam, gluing as you go.

4. Glue mostly green shells along inner and outer edges, then both colors along front, layered to cover gaps.

5. Tie 30" of each ribbon together around wreath in a bow. Slip separate 15" strand under ribbon; tie ends in two overhand knots at desired length for hanging loop. (10/30/2004)

By Tawnda

Baskets

I took sea shells I collected and hot glued them to the outside of baskets I found at a garage sale. Because I am a sea shell collecting geek, I had lots of the same types of shells so that I could create patterns or rows with each kind. (10/31/2004)

By Michelle

Frames

I make presents all the time using bare unpainted mirror/photo frames.

In Australia we can buy MDF wood, but I believe it's not allowed in the US (probably for a good reason). I'm sure you can buy cheap untreated frames from craft stores or clearance sales.

I picked some up for $1.50 each so that's pretty thrifty. The ones I bought had mirrors in them which can be taken out. They had wooden backings and tabs that twist open and shut, securing the mirror and backing. If you buy these, then they can have a duel purpose. People can either use them as a mirror or as a picture frame and all they have to do is take the mirror out and replace it with their own photo.

You need frames, PVA wood glue, shells/pebbles (starfish look good as well)... and glitter. Plus a can of clear spray varnish/lacquer

What you do is find your mirror frame or picture frame and arrange your shells how you'd like them... Remember this isn't rocket science... and you don't have to be particularly artistic to make this work.

When you have an idea of what to do, take the shells off and then smear the frame with the PVA glue and arrange the shells how you would like them. Once I even got some colored pencils from my daughter and touched up some of the more boring shells.

When you have the shells embedded in the glue enough for them to stick, sprinkle a little glitter in-between the shells on the glue and a little on the shells as well... but don't overdo it as it can look a little too much.. believe me when I say this as I've done it myself.

When the glue is dried (it dries clear), spray the frames with the clear varnish and allow to dry.

It may sound expensive having to buy all these supplies but I think you may find that you could have some of these things in your garage or storage cupboard already. Most houses have PVA glue.

I was even selling these to a local gift shop and even had a market stall myself, selling them for $20. It's a fun thing to do and I get a lot of enjoyment watching people's faces when they open their present.

God bless (11/18/2004)

By Ozbev

Wall Holder

I took a large poster board, sand colored, and painted light blue streaks on it. Then I cut a small basket in half and hot glue gunned both halves to various positions on the posterboard. Once done I hot glue gunned shells in a kind of purposeful beach pattern on both the board and the baskets. It makes an excellent holder for makeup and other small items since my apartment has no space in the bathroom to put things. (12/26/2004)

By Melissa

Votive Candle Holder

Use them to line a glass container, then put a votive in the middle. The translucent quality of the sea shells makes for a very pretty soft light. (01/18/2005)

By Melody W.

Jewelry

You can make jewelry with them. Take some seashells you like and some thick wire, and poke holes in the seashells. Some seashells you can poke right through with a needle, but for others you need a drill. Experiment! (02/12/2005)

By Gretchen

Looking for Sea Shell Craft Ideas

Here's a couple posts from our archive that may be helpful.

(05/27/2005)

By ThriftyFun

Picture Frames

An idea is decorating photo frames and mirrors with shells, fake coral and beach themed craft products. They always look beautiful. You could sell them at local markets. (10/01/2005)

Hanging a Large Shell

Hang your large shell on the wall using wire plate hangers. (11/10/2005)

By Ursula

Opercula

Some species of seashell have opercula, or "trap doors" that close over the opening. I have heard that in other countries where seashells such as the turbo's are common, the opercula are used as decorations ranging from tiles to cobble stones. (01/19/2006)

By Donald Pelton

Shell Pendants

I make shell jewelry with nothing but a drill, brightly colored ribbons and copper wire. Be creative - you can make some fantastic designs. How about making a really simple shell pendant? Many shells on the beach have natural holes worn in the top, gastropod shells and limpets are the most common. Just string some pretty ribbon through the hole and tie a Chinese knot either side of the shell. you can use 2 smaller shells about 2/3 of the way up the ribbon, secured in place with more knots. If you make the ribbon long enough to go over your head you don't have to worry about fastenings and findings if you're not into beading or wirework. It couldn't be simpler and the results can look stunning. (08/05/2006)

By Jupiter

Website

I recently starting a blog on sea shell jewelry and crafts, soon I plan to create a list of sea shell ideas. Feel free to check out the blog or website for some ideas.

http://www.hbshellsandsea.com (09/22/2006)

By Alan

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