What to do with the Shells you’ve Shelled

If you’ve ever been to Sanibel Island you learned very quickly that it is known as the number one shelling location in the world. The technical definition of shelling, according to freedictionary.com, is: To look for or collect shells, as on a seashore. Being the number one shelling locale means that many, many visitors make a conscious effort to collect shells during their stay. But what do you really do with the shells once you’ve found them, put them in your bucket, gone through the trouble of cleaning them off and finally brought them home with you?

Here are a few ideas to help you make use of all the beautiful and varied shells you discover here and elsewhere:

  • Cover a Frame: Using the shells you collect on Sanibel to frame a mirror (or piece of art, photograph, etc) is a great use for them and also becomes a daily reminder of your trip!

Shell Mirror

  • Make a Wreath- This Clamshell Wreath from MarthaStewart.com is a great idea! Clamshells are a very common shell, both here and al up the East Coast, so finding enough of the shells to do a project like this wouldn’t take very long. (If you want to go for a different look, you can try a Mussel Wreath. The bonus with both of these crafts is that is you come up shorts on shells all you have to do is go out to dinner at a seafood restaurant and order the right dish!)
Shell Wreaths
  • Shell Flower Pots – These Flower Pots are a great look for a beach house or vacation house. You don’t need many shells and they don’t even have to match!
  • Shell Planters- If you’re lucky enough to snag a large shell, you can pull off these all natural planters!

Shell Pots and Planters

  • Sailor Valentine- This is, in my opinion, the mother of all shell crafts. According to the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum, the craft originated in the 19th century in Barbados and around other parts of the Caribbean. The woman of the islands would create what were essentially shell collages in octagonal boxes for the visiting sailors to take home to their loved ones. These two were made over 150 years apart but the idea is still the same.

(Left) Antique Sailors’ Valentine, Circa 1850s, Barbados, Bailey-Matthews Shell. (Right) People’s Choice Award Winner, 2013 50th Annual Sarasota Shell Show, Suzanne Dietch

For more ideas, check out the Shells board on the Sundial Pinterest Page here: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa Pinterest

Happy Shelling!

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One Comment

Patrick M. McAndrew

July 11th, 2013

My wife, Kathy and I have made clear ginger jar shaped lamps FILLED with BEAUTIFUL SHELLS. We put bubble wrap around the post inside covering the wiring so that :
1. It was not such a heavy lamp. 2. Why hide so many beautiful shells.
We made one for each niece and nephew on both sides of the family. We have made one for our mothers as well. How many lamps have we made you might be thinking? Answer 12. Best part, at Christmas we covered them in various colors of cellophane…. with a beautiful Christmas ornament tied at the top. You could see the lamp through the cellophane. It was a great presentation under the tree. Everyone picked numbers out of a box to decide the order of picking out your lamp. EVERYONE left their cellophane on because it was a lovely presentation. They all wanted to put them under their tree wrapped that way!

Other shells go into the open top wall display box mounted in condo E-305 and fish bowl and ceramic bowl in the unit at the Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. We have enjoyed doing the Sanibel Stoop since 1984 every time we visit.

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