Framed Shell Collections…

I hope all of you have had a fabulous Spring Break. Our family spent the last week at the beach during the break and we brought home bags of gorgeous shells from our beach combing excursions. Maybe your family ventured to the beach as well and your wondering what to do with all those pretty shells. Here’s a great project for those little shells that is easy and inexpensive and absolutely beautiful on any wall.

I have been wanting to do this project for a long time. It’s important to note that this project will only work for the smaller or thin shells. For larger shells, you will need a shadow box or an extra thick custom frame. There is limited thickness in the ready made frames for the backing to attach. Shells up to an inch and a half thickness should work perfectly. For my first shell collection frame, I decided to use these super thin quarter size sand dollars that my husband brought home to me from a fishing trip in Rockport, Texas. I gasped when he put them in my hand!

I have never seen sand dollars this small and so delicate and perfectly white. My husband has been well trained in beach combing by the two mermaids in his home and knew we would be very excited to have them. He cut into his precious fishing time to comb the sand bar for as many as he could find and bring home to the mermaids. Awww….

The first thing I did for this project is I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a mat board used for framing in the color I wanted (indigo), and two ready made frames that was 50% off, yay!!

I then removed the backing on the frames and used it as a template to trace the exact lines on my mat board for the inside of the frame. I then cut just inside the lines to make sure that my mat board would fit perfectly. After cutting the mat, I inserted the mat into the frame just to be sure that it fit (highly recommend!).

I then put the frame (without the glass) over my mat board to guide me as I began to layout my sand dollars as shown below:

I decided to just play with them in arranging until I got the layout exactly as I wanted it. There are so many possibilities with the layout including a circle design, a tight square or a spaced out rectangle as I did for the sand dollars. I laid out my sliced cerithium shells (from Hobby Lobby) in sort of a star design shown below:

I then removed the frame and heated up my glue gun:

I then put a very small amount of glue on flush areas on the backside of the shells and then glued them to the mat board until I glued them all:

The next step I had to proceed very carefully. Sand dollars are the most delicate of the smaller shells and too much pressure could cause them to crumble (which one did crumble for me). The sliced cerithiums are not as delicate and I could apply pressure. First, I turned my frame over and inserted the frame glass. Next, I turned the mat over with the shells and inserted it very carefully and slowly into the frame on top of the glass, making sure that I carefully got the mat under the metal tabs that hold the backing in place. I then inserted the backing on the frame and I then bent every other metal tab over just enough to secure the backing but not snug enough to apply pressure.

For any other type of shell other than the sand dollar, you should be able to apply pressure like I had to do with the sliced cerithiums to get the metal tabs folded over to secure. The middle of the frame backing was raised up some but its ok, it still works. As long as you can secure the backing somehow, this will work and will look great.

If you do not have any shells or access to them, you can buy them at craft stores (usually a limited selection) or on the internet and in the descriptions, it should note the size and thickness. Thin clams, scallop shells, sea fans, small blue abalone shells would look gorgeous as well. I want to do one for this wall with the very tiny butterfly shells in a circle layout.

This framed shell collection is the first two of at least six or so that I am planning to hang on this wall. When I have completed the wall, I will post the pictures here. I plan on doing various layouts so if your having trouble deciding on a layout design, check back to see the final wall and various layout ideas and maybe you’ll see something that will work for you.

Have a fantastic week and I have several projects lined up for the next couple of weeks so check back soon! As always, thank you so much for your sweet comments, emails and notes! I really love hearing from you and am so appreciative of your feedback!


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