12/23/08

Island Crafts: Putting those shells to good use

Visitors and locals alike have been known to rake in the shells after a good storm, or just when the tides are right. But once you have a bucket of shells to bring home, what do you do? Part of the reason for the popularity of seashells is that they are fabulous raw materials for craft projects. Young and old alike, everyone can enjoy a rainy afternoon sorting through their Outer Banks shells and creating a homemade souvenir that they can use as the perfect present, decorate a beach home, or simply enjoy as a fond memory of their trip to Hatteras Island.

Consider the following shell craft ideas as a launching point. Remember, the number of crafts you can create with your seashells is limited only by your imagination.

Holiday Ornaments:
What you’ll need: Seashells, clear nail polish, a glue gun or crazy glue, ribbon, and decorations like strings of beads, glitter, etc.
Best shells to use: Whole scallops, clams, moon snails, and arc shells.
How to do it: Paint all the shells with a heavy coat of clear nail polish so they look like they just washed up from the ocean. Once shells are dry, loop a ribbon or string of beads into a circle, and glue it to the back of the shell, creating a “hanger” for the ornament. (If you have two similar shells, you can even glue them together, with the loop of ribbon in between the two shells.) Then decorate each individual shell any way you’d like: add glitter, glue a string of beads along the edge of the shell, or even paint holiday designs on the shell.

Island Planters:
What you’ll need: Seashells, potting soil, small hardy plants like spider plants, ivy, cactus, and ornamental sweet potatoes.
Best shells to use: Big whelks and conchs: Shells with a large opening you can fill with dirt. (Holes on the bottom of the shell are preferable for draining.)
How to do it: Clean the shell out thoroughly to remove any sand and salt particles which can damage the plant. Then fill the mouth or opening of the shell with dirt and plant your favorite indoor or outdoor houseplants. Water as needed, and make sure you put a plate or bowl underneath shells with holes on the bottom for drainage.

Wall Hangings:
What you’ll need: A nice thin piece of driftwood, approx. 12″ – 18″ long, seashells, rustic twine, fishing line or strong thread, nails or tacks.
Best shells to use: Small decorative shells with tiny holes in them, large enough to pull thread or fishing line through.
How to do it: Create strings of shells by looping the fishing line or thread through each shell and tying a knot, creating an even 8″ – 12″ long string of a dozen shells or so. If the driftwood is sturdy enough, space tacks or nails along the piece of driftwood and tie on each string of shells. If not, simply tie each string of shells to the piece of driftwood. Essentially, you’re forming a “beaded curtain” of shells along the piece of driftwood. Once this is complete, add hardy twine to each side of the piece of driftwood, or around each of the nails, gathering and tying the individual pieces at the top, and creating a hanger for the wall hanging.

Beach Mirrors
What you’ll need: Lots of shells, a glue gun or crazy glue, clear nail polish, and a plain mirror with no frame, or with a frame you can decorate. (You can also get cut pieces of mirror at a hardware store, and simply add a hanger to the back.)
Best shells to use: Small, decorative shells, or pretty shell pieces.
How to do it: Glue the shell pieces around the mirror, overlapping each other so that there are no spaces of mirror visible. Once glue has dried, coat the shells with nail polish to make them shine.

Have fun and get creative, and don’t forget that these ideas are just the start of the number of projects you can do with your seashells. Grab a little glue, polish, paint, and there’s no limit to the number of remarkable, one of a kind craft projects you can create with these treasures.

Collect and Recollect

This is the time of year that some of us start longing for the sunny, warm days of summer. The delightfully, hectic holidays are behind us and we’re left with plans for the new year. Many of us set goals or organize our thoughts in order to tackle A, B, or C on our lists. […]

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