I’m sure as a seashell collector you’ve seen the typical crafts being made with collected shells. Frame a mirror, or make a wind chime, or cover a little trinket box. But if you find something really special on your beach-combing ventures, why not wear it around your neck so it gets some nice visibility? A pretty, or rare, seashell or piece of beach glass would make a lovely and unique pendant. Something like that needs to be used in a special and creative way.
I know that jewelry making is popular, and I’ve never made any type of jewelry myself, but it’s something most people can easily learn to do. Buy some wire, in silver, bronze or copper, and watch the Youtube video below – it moves right along, and has pop up text with useful information as you watch the woman create her sea glass pendant. I think you’ll agree that any of us could handle making something like this. You’ll need pliers, quality wire, and wire cutters, and of course the special item to be wrapped.
Often we are told to drill shells with a hole to create jewelry, which seems much more difficult. This wire wrapping video is done with a piece of green beach glass, but it could also be used as an example of how to wrap a pretty seashell. A small, spotted junonia hanging around your neck would be such a conversation piece! If you do it, please let me show off a picture of your handiwork here to inspire other readers. Have fun!
Collecting seashells is one thing that is done worldwide and a favorite pastime of many. Whether you are a casual collector, or are searching for that special, elusive specimen, you will want to clean your shells before displaying.
Clean shells won’t smell and they will look more beautiful, yet still very natural. As a word of caution I suggest you make sure there is nothing living inside your shells before you bring them home. Mollusks are the sea snails that build their homes around them as they grow, and those homes are the shells you find at the beach. Usually you will know right away if the shell is occupied when you can see the creature or it’s “trap door” in the canal of the shell.
Sometimes hermit crabs will occupy an empty shell and they can hide way down inside the shell and may be difficult to see.
Take a bucket of sea water and add the shells to it and wait. If something lives inside, it will most likely begin to move and be visible after a while. Do some more collecting while you wait. If the shell is occupied, you must leave it at the beach. In many areas, collecting living seashells is against the law. Read my page about Types of Shells to learn about what you collect.
Once your bucket of shells is home, rinse the sand off and fill a bucket, or the sink with a weak solution of bleach and water. Info on the ratio of bleach to water varies but a cup or two of bleach to a gallon of water should suffice. Drop the empty shells in and wait ten minutes or so. Be sure to rinse them well in clean water.
Although I don’t advocate collecting live shells, and in most places it’s illegal, if by chance you do bring home an inhabited shell, the How to Clean Seashells post at About.com has some ideas for getting the dead animal out of the shell.
The echinoderms (sand dollars & sea urchins) are much more brittle than shells and must be handled carefully. Rinse them or soak in a very mild bleach solution for a minute or two and then let them dry. Putting them in the sun for a short period of time may help whiten them.
Christmas in the tropics means decorating with seashells of course! And you don’t have to live in a warm climate to have a themed Christmas tree either. When I lived in central Florida, lots of crafty people would have their seashell ornaments ready to sell at the local craft fairs and shops in the Fall months. We have a painted sand dollar with a music attachment (that no longer works) that was purchased many years ago. I haven’t dug it out this year or I’d add a photo.
Among the coastal Christmas ornaments, painted sand dollars are very popular because of their flat surface, but drilling holes in shells for hanging or incorporating their shapes into angels and other holiday images. Painted, glittered and decorated shells of all types abound for your tree trimming pleasure, whether you buy them already made or opt to do it yourself.
Personally I prefer the unaltered state of the shells since they are beautiful works of nature and don’t need glitter and ribbons to make them pretty, in my opinion. That way the decorations or garland can be used year round. I’ve found that many shells and pieces of shells have ready-made holes in them and are perfect for stringing or hanging on a decorative wire or ribbon. Making a garland of shells is a bit more work, but can be very impressive and you can make one without using a drill.
The arrowhead sand dollars have many holes in them naturally and ribbon or twine can be tied to them without harming their natural appearance. In fact, you can also wrap starfish (sea stars) and many other shells and make a natural string of shells for adding to your Christmas tree or to use for decorating a porch or other area.
Pam, at the “i love shelling” blog has photos of her sand dollar and starfish garland and she also tempts us with her “sand dollar cookies” on the same page. She is lucky enough to live at the beach so finding shells to use to decorate is not a problem. For the rest of us I have included some helpful links below for buying shells and sea shell decorations.
Merry Tropical Christmas! or as Pam says “Shellebrate the Season!”