“Making Shell Art From Discarded Clam and Oyster Shells”

“Making Shell Art From Discarded Clam and Oyster Shells”

Making Shell Art From Discarded Clam and Oyster Shells

Collecting discarded clam and oyster shells from beaches and restaurants can provide beautiful materials for creating shell art and crafts. With a little creativity, these free and natural materials can be transformed into stunning decorative pieces.

Why Make Shell Art

There are many benefits to creating art from discarded shells:

  • Sustainable – Reusing shells reduces waste and is good for the environment. Shells are a renewable and natural resource.

  • Free materials – Collecting shells is free and accessible. Search beaches or ask restaurants to save their discarded shells.

  • Unique textures and colors – Every shell is one-of-a-kind. The natural curves, ridges, and hues make each piece special.

  • Coastal aesthetic – Shell art evokes a beachy, nautical vibe. These pieces are at home in seaside cottages or beach-themed decor.

  • Makes great gifts – Handmade shell crafts make thoughtful gifts and meaningful souvenirs from beach vacations.

Best Types of Shells for Crafting

The most abundant shells washed up on beaches or served in restaurants are:

  • Oyster shells – Thick, sturdy shells that can be drilled and strung. Their rough texture adds interest.

  • Clam shells – Smooth, even shells that lie flat. Use smaller ones for mosaics or large ones as decorative platters.

  • Scallop shells – Delicate shells with fluted edges and lovely ridges. Their tan and white layers make nice bowls.

  • Mussel shells – Elongated blue or black shells good for mosaics. Their narrow shape can be cut for pendants.

  • Whelk shells – Twisting cone-shaped shells perfect for nautical wreaths or garlands.

Collecting and Cleaning Shells

Searching for shells takes patience. Here are some tips:

  • Walk beaches early in the morning when shells wash ashore. Check the high tide line.

  • Ask seafood restaurants to save discarded shells. Provide bags for storage.

  • Rinse shells in fresh water to remove sand and debris.

  • Scrub shells gently with a brush. Avoid bleach or harsh chemicals that can damage shells.

  • Soak very dirty shells in water with a bit of vinegar to loosen grime. Rinse thoroughly.

  • Let shells dry completely before crafting. Air dry flat or use a low oven.

Fun and Easy Shell Craft Ideas

Here are some beginner-friendly projects for creating beautiful shell art and decor:

Shell Wreaths

  • Gather small shells like periwinkles, nerites, or baby whelks. Clean thoroughly.

  • Cut cardboard into a wreath ring shape. Cover one side with tacky glue.

  • Press shells onto the glue in patterns or randomly. Let dry. Add hanger.

Shell Wind Chimes

  • Drill small holes near the top of oyster or clam shells. Be careful not to crack the shell.

  • String shells on fishing line or ribbon, alternating with beads, sea glass, or starfish if desired.

  • Attach string to a round wood plaque hanger. Let shells hang at varying lengths.

Shell Suncatchers

  • Clean and dry a few small, thin shells like mussel or cockle shells.

  • Use glass glue to affix shells to the clear glass ornament in patterns. Add dots of glitter glue.

  • Tie with ribbon to hang in a window. The sun shining through creates a beautiful effect.

Shell Mirror Frame

  • Clean and dry small and medium shells. Arrange on cardboard to plan design.

  • Glue shells in a geometric or abstract pattern onto a plain circular mirror frame.

  • Fill any gaps with shell pieces, sea glass, or starfish sand dollar fragments.

Shell Candles

  • Affix cleaned clam, scallop, or other shells upside down onto glass candle holders or votives with strong glue.

  • Nestle a candle inside each shell, keeping the wick centered. The light flickers beautifully through the shells.

With some simple supplies and imagination, discarded shells can become stunning decorative art for your home or thoughtful handmade gifts. Just be sure to collect shells sustainably, and have fun crafting!