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Some Easy Shell Art Ideas

In a recent blog post we shared techniques on how to clean the seashells that your family bought home from this year’s summer vacation. But, now what?
We have compiled some shell art ideas that don’t require many supplies, won’t take much time and are perfect for children as well as adults who don’t consider themselves “artistic.” In upcoming posts we will explore a few projects that take more time, material and skill but today all of our ideas are quite simple. Please keep in mind these are project suggestions and there is no wrong way to make art. Each idea will list the materials that we used and the way we chose to put each item together. The Tilghman Beach and Golf staff would love to see the unique spin that our followers put on these project suggestions. If you would like to share your shell art you can email photos of your projects to Rosie, our Activities Director, at


Table Centerpiece

What I used: -A fancy, shallow, oval shaped bowl
-A small scalloped round fingerbowl
-Potpourri in beachy beige earth-tones
-Shells, dried coral & other treasures found along the shoreline
Shells make great accents anywhere, especially as a summer centerpiece or focal point on a table. Sometimes all you have to do is arrange them in a bowl and voilà! you have just created art! I placed the dried coral I found in a small bowl for support so that I could be sure it would remain upright. Around the smaller bowl I arranged some neutral toned potpourri, small chunks of driftwood and shells of various sizes and finishes.


Framed Coquina Clam Shells

What I used: -Found coquina clam shells that had both halves still connected
-Tacky Glue
-A small paintbrush
-An old picture frame with matting
-Clear school glue
Early this summer, one of the children in Kids Club was so excited to find almost a dozen intact coquina clam shells on our weekly walk to the beach. She referred to them as “Angel Wings.” These delicate shells came in all sizes and each one had a beautiful unique pattern. They can easily be displayed by gently applying Tacky Glue to the underside of the shell, using a paintbrush or cotton swab, and arranged on a piece of cardstock. I chose to upcycle an old picture frame that already came with beach toned matting. The frame itself had several grooves going around it and I applied clear school glue around the middle groove and filled it with beach sand to add to the beachy feel. No matter what the weather is like outside I always have some summer on display at my desk!


Draw, Doodle & Painted Shells

What I used: -Acrylic paint
-Paint brushes
-Paint markers
Painted shells make great vacation mementos, garden decorations, holders for tea light candles or jewelry and so much more! The possibilities are truly endless, especially if you incorporate other art supplies like googly eyes, glitter or 3-D puffy paint. I first applied 2 coats of acrylic paint as a base color on each side of the shell, giving each coat of paint and shell side plenty of time to dry. Once I had an even base I used paint markers to make a mandala-like pattern on one side and a beachy reminder on the other and am using it near my kitchen sink as a safe place to keep my rings while I am washing dishes.


A 6-Strand Braided Bookmark with Shell Accents

What I used: -Hemp cord in 3 colors
-6 shells with small holes in them that the hemp cord can fit thru
-A clipboard
Often on a beach walk you can find many shells that Mother Nature has already built perfectly placed holes into that are the ideal size for stringing. One of the many crafts you can make with these shells is a braided bookmark. You can use any braid or knot pattern and string material that lays flat once finished. I chose to demonstrate with a 6 strand braid using natural hemp cord. This pattern will work with many craft materials such as thin ribbon, yarn or floss but I would not recommend using lanyard or parachute cord.
Whenever I braid friendship bracelets I like to use a clipboard to help hold my project steady, and since this bookmark will be longer than most bracelets, you can easily wrap the already braided section around the clip to make things easier for you.
I began by selecting 3 colors, cutting about 36 inches of each color, and after gathering the hemp cords together and finding the midpoint, I made a simple loop knot to act as my starting point. I then clipped this onto my clipboard and separated my hemp cord into 2 sections with one of each color (3 strands) per side.

Take the string that is on the far right and cross it OVER the string to its left (so that now it is in the middle of the right section) and then UNDER the next string to the left.

Then, take the string that is on the far left and cross it OVER the string to its right, UNDER the next string to the right and OVER the next string to the right (which was the string you started with on the previous side.)

While firmly holding all the strings in position, transfer back to the string on the far right and continue this “over-under, switch sides, over-under-over, switch sides” pattern until the braided portion of your bookmark is it’s desired length. Gather all 6 strings and secure your braid with a simple knot. Thread each cord thru the small hole in each of your 6 shells as if were a tassel. Double knot the end of each string at various lengths to keep the shells attached. Finish off your bookmark by trimming the excess hemp cord.
This is a perfect way to hold the place in all of your beach reads!

Keep your eyes open for more shell art suggestions & don’t forget to share your finished projects with us via email.

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