I'm a freelance writer living on the Sunshine Coast.
Published March 3rd 2014
Recycling nature's trash into treasure
Do you like to collect shells that you find on the beach or on vacation? While the chances of finding a perfect specimen are slim, what do you do with all those imperfect or broken shells in your collection? The answer - make works of art!
Where to find shells:
Generally you can find more shells on beaches which form bays and coves, or beaches that are sheltered. The entrances to rivers are also a good place to look. Even rock pools and rocky outcrops can contain some stunners.
In the craft section of your local variety or hardware store you can find all sorts of ready-to-use items that just need a bit of paint and some decoration to be transformed into unique art works. These items include wooden photo frames, wall hangings, name plaques, mirror frames, jewellery boxes, and canvas frames etc.
Materials to purchase:
Craft item eg. Plain wooden photo frame. Paint – standard acrylic or folk art paint. A bottle of craft glue that dries clear. A bottle of craft water-based gloss or satin varnish to seal the shells. Screws/hooks/string – for hanging onto walls. Cord for necklaces or pinch bails for pendants.
Rinse your shells in a bowl of water to remove any residual sand and leave them in the sun to dry. Once you have decided on a project, work out your colour scheme. For example, do you want to use only off-white shells on an off-white painted background to give it that sun-bleached beachy look? Or, do you want to reflect the colors of the ocean by using different tones of blues?
Next you will need to paint your item and after it has dried, sort through your shells to work out the best pattern. Practice placing the shells in different positions until you are happy with your chosen arrangement. One way to hide imperfections is to layer the shells on top of or next to one another. Then glue each shell into position and let it dry to set overnight. The next day, add a coat of water-based varnish over the shells for the finishing touch!
Shells are a wonderful gift of nature. They are both calming and healing. Their spiral structures reflect the fractal-based structure of our universe. Shell art unites the healing and spiritual aspects of nature with our human imagination in a truly unique and creative way.