I recently collected some interesting oyster shells that I wanted to cut into organic-like shapes. They reflect light so beautifully when their layers are exposed. Ultimately I want to shine them and wrap with silver wire to wear as a pendent. Does anybody know what kind of tool I could use to cut a shape out of the shell? My specimens are thick and are very white. Thanks.
By Carolyn from Columbus, OH
You can use a high speed Dremel tool, but be very careful. When working with Oyster shells or abalone shells it is very important to have a lot of ventilation. The dust that is created is poisonous to your lungs. If you breath it in it can kill you. Work outside with a fan blowing away from you. That will take care of the problem. Have fun.
Wear a mask and goggles. How about a simple fish shape? Have fun!
I don't want to get on you for it, since I'm a bit of a hypocrite in this already. Please put the oyster shells back on the beach. Young oysters develop on the shells of older oysters. The less shells found in the water, the less oyster babies there will be to renew the beach. So if you go out to collect them on vacation, admire them there, and return them to the tide. Go ahead and have your bbq, just put the granddaddies back.
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I want to begin making jewelry from sea shells. Do I have to prepare the shells in any way before working with them? I collected these shells off the beach.
BettyCL from Detroit, MI
Just smell them closely to be sure they don't have a dead critter dried up inside. You could try boiling a few, but watch to see if the color fades. (04/22/2008)
I use a rotary tool with a ceramic drill bit. I've had great luck with a small bit, then graduating to a larger one if I need a bigger hole. Because shells are slick, I often start the drill and then very carefully lower the bit to the shell surface. Go slow and don't press down on the drill as you work, or your shell is likely to shatter. If it's a thick shell, stop occasionally to keep from overheating the tool. I have broken a shell here and there. It happens. Oh, another thing, to strengthen the shell after the hole is drilled, I use epoxy to glue on a finding, such as a Bali spacer bead, and let it dry thoroughly before stringing the shell. (09/28/2008)
I had posted a tutorials for Making of Seashell Jewelry. Have a look at my blog. Thanks.
Aina, Making of Seashell Jewelry
High gloss clear acrylic spray is an excellent way not only to strengthen shells, but to make them look just as beautiful as they do when you find them wet on the sand! It dries quickly which is another plus. (02/21/2009)
By Shell Girl
My mother used to make beautiful shell pins, and earrings. She taught me how but she has passed, and I don't know where to get the shells and pin backings etc. from.
Dina from Kissimmee, FL
You can pick up shells for free at any local beach.
Walmart, and craft stores sell pin backings that you can hot glue the shells to, if you don't want to drill them. (02/27/2007)
I have a small Jewelery business in Essex UK, and I suggest you buy a copy of 'Bead Style' magazine.
Inside you will find loads of web sites and shops that sell jewelery findings and some shells with holes. I live on a small Island called Mersea and often pick up shells to make wind chimes with my kids. Sea glass makes good jewelery if you wrap it with wire like a parcel and make hanging loops before you cut the excess off. (03/02/2007)
As far as drilling the holes you might try what I do with more fragile pieces (I haven't tried shells yet but it *should* work) to turn them into beads.
In a sturdy, unbreakable shallow container (Tupperware works, a cookie sheet may work) stick a wedge of silly putty to the bottom, secure your piece in the silly putty and fill the container so it's just covering the piece with water. Then drill. Of course, please be careful using electricity near water! Go slow and use the smallest bit you can find.
Also I have a little hand drill that I love- it's basically a metal pen like cylinder with a collar/collet at one end and it came with a bunch of micro drills (I keep losing them on my black granite kitchen counters as they are so small!) - you just twist manually and I've found many uses for it.
I got it at Harbor Freight for 1.99 on sale (I think they are 2.99 or 3.99 regularly.) (04/05/2007)
By Bek Caruso
I'd like to make shell jewelry but small shells are so fragile. Any suggestions on what I can coat them with?
Cindyluhu from Melbourne, FL
I haven't tried this but I think that I read somewhere that if you want to use shells in jewelry making you can use a dremil drill with a very small tip. You are still going to break quite a few probably as they are just plain thin generally. Hope this helps.
I heard that if you fill the shell with water and then use a drill it wont break.
You can coat the seashells with clear nailpoliss. I also like using irriedescent or pearly nail polish to enhance some shells. Instead of using drills to make holes in the shells I use a safety pin and slowly work a hole through it and I haven't had one break on me yet. Also, if you do coat shells with nail polish, string some fishing line through the holes first so the holes won't be covered by the polish then re-string it when you make your jewelry (you can also hang the shell to dry by doing this.)
By Sherri Lahey
I use a drill with a very fine tip. I haven't had many problems at all and I work with very small shells. If you would like to check out some of my creations, feel free to check out my website: http://www.hbshellsandsea.com (09/22/2006)