** updated*** I recently shared more sea fan and shell double framing tricks here.
Wow, I can’t believe after five months of blogging that this is really the first time that I’m posting a project idea using something from the ocean… This is surprising because a lot of my projects involve ocean elements in some way. I love anything to do with the ocean, the sand, beach and I surround myself with anything that comes from, in, or around the sea. For all practical purposes, my daughter and I are basically mermaids being forced to live our lives on dry land… Ok, so you get the point, I like the ocean…
This is one of those projects that became a mission/obsession for me. I saw these beautiful framed sea fans in a very high end, “she-she” home decor store in Houston last year. There were six framed sea fans displayed on a wall similar to these pictures below (look on the walls):
Ok, so I saw these framed sea fans in this store and the minute I saw them, I gasped! Wow! Amazingly fabulous! So I told myself, I HAD to have them! Um… but… we have a slight problem Houston… As I looked at the price tag, I gasped again… $500.00!!! What?? $500.00 for only one? Does a snorkel trip to a coral reef in Belize go with it? Nope, no snorkel trip sadly… After a private temper tantrum and instant realization that there was no way I was spending that amount of money on one framed sea fan, my brain started to churn and I started analyzing the framed sea fan, taking mental notes and a new mission was born… I must conquer and duplicate!
So, I went to my favorite seaside shell store in Galveston called Murdochs…
Murdoch’s is by far the best place to get any kind of shell known to man. They also carry a huge selection of sea fans, coral and other ocean goodies. It’s huge and on a personal note, they also sell the best frozen margarita’s too… What more does a mermaid need than shells and margaritas?
I have shopped at Murdochs for years and was devastated when I heard that it was completely destroyed during Hurricane Ike two years ago. It wasn’t just damaged, it was GONE! Completely! Just pilings left… Sad, but the good news is that Murdochs rebuilt and is finally open and it looks better than ever.
Murdochs has hundreds of sea fans in every shape and size. They look like this when you buy them naturally:
If you don’t live near a store that sells shells and sea fans, you can buy natural sea fans online here. Just figure out roughly what sizes you want and they are cheap enough ($3.00-$10.00) that you can buy a couple extra just in case.
So at first, I just thought that the framed sea fans that I saw in the store were just simply painted, so I spray painted one. Nope, doesn’t look good. The originals that I saw looked naturally colored. In fact, they looked like they just came right out of the ocean and somehow retained its underwater vibrant color and were just framed. When I painted them, they looked cheap. So I racked my brain… I kept thinking how did they color those sea fans to look so naturally vibrant in color? It looked organic to me… What product can color things organically? Ah ha! Fabric dye! That’s it! That’s what they did! Fabric dye! Fabric dye can also dye things that are organic. Muaaaahhhaaahaa! I figured out the code!
So after I made the realization that the fans had to have been dyed, I couldn’t get to Hobby Lobby fast enough… Found it, fabric dye in EVERY color imaginable. I purchased the brand RIT Fabric Dye in scarlet red.
Fingers crossed, I mixed up the dye according to the directions and then poured it into this big tub that we use to clean up the yard.
I used a set of kitchen tongs and gently placed the natural sea fan in the tub of dye.
I moved the sea fan around in the dye mixture with the tongs, flipped the fan over a couple of times and right before my eyes, the bright shade of red slowly transformed and vibrantly colored the fan. I was so excited as I watched the fan fill with color that I cracked the high dollar, “she-she” store code!
It didn’t take me long to figure out that the longer you keep the fan in the dye mixture, the deeper the color becomes. You may want to do a practice run with a piece of an old white t-shirt to get a feel for your ultimate color. If you want a really light tone and transclusent tone, take it out right away. If you want a super deep color, wait for at least 10 minutes or even more. I also mixed dye colors together to really fine tune the end result of my orange/red color (I added a touch of yellow dye mix to the red). Again, think of it like working with paint in fine tuning colors and mixing dye packages. When I got the fan the color that I wanted, I pulled it out with the tongs and laid them on the grass to dry. Takes about about 3-5 hours to fully dry.
After the fans dried, I took the newly colored fans with me to Hobby Lobby and purchased ready made frames in the sizes that I wanted. I also purchased a large mat board in the exact color of my wall color where I was planning on hanging the fans. The reason I picked my wall color for the mat is that I wanted the framed fans to appear as if they were in a double glass frame. The original sea fans in the “she-she” store were in double glass and I really think that it looks amazing on the wall this way. If you can’t find a mat super close to your wall color, you can paint your wall color on a mat board and let it fully dry before gluing the fans.
After I cut my mat to fit my ready made frame, I simply hot glued the back side of the main vein going up the fan and placed it where I wanted it on the mat. I then put my completed mat board with sea fans in the frame and hung it. That’s it!
I have now tried several colors and the teal blue and scarlet are my favorite. Think how fabulous bright purple or yellow would look. The frame sea fans would look good in any decor and are a perfect decorating element because you can color them the exact color that you want to incorporate into your decor.
This project when all was said and done cost me around $35.00 (ready made frame was 50% off) for these framed sea fans below.
I also did an individual framed sea fan that cost me around $15.00 (frame 50% off):
Sure beats $500.00 doesn’t it! Well, mission accomplished and now I can’t stop dying the fans! I love them!
I have a lot of fun summer projects coming up and some recipes as well, so stay tuned. Thank you again to all of you who have sent emails and left comments, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your feedback and support!
Happy Memorial Day and look for something next week!