DIY Double Sided Glass Frames for Framing Shells or Dyed Sea Fans

Tutorial for double glass framing sand dollars, sea fans and mini sea biscuits. The Creativity Exchange



I am really excited about this project that I’m sharing today that I recently did for my office/craft room revamp.  Several years ago, I feel in love with a collection of double sided glass frames that were filled with shells that I saw at Neiman Marcus.  The framed shells that I saw looked something like this:


DIY Double-Sided Glass for framing Shells {The Creativity Exchange}


Of course, they were not cheap!  If you can believe it,  the prices started around $300.00 and went up as high as $800.00 (for framed sea fan) for each individual frame!  Since that time, I have been creating my own DIY double sided glass frames for my sea fans but for my office project, I finally did a collection of small shells.  This is a super easy and inexpensive way to display shells and sea fans.  Here are some close ups:

dyed sea fan;

DIY Double Sided Glass Frames for Framing Shells and Sea Fans {The Creativity Exchange}


medium size sand dollars;


Tutorial for how to make double-sided glass frames for displaying shell collections {The Creativity Exchange}

small sized mini sea biscuits;

Tutorial for how to make double-sided glass frames for displaying pretty shell collections or dyed sea fans {The Creativity Exchange}


Here is a picture of one of my dyed sea fans that I framed with double-sided glass:

Tutorial for how to make double sided glass frames for displaying dyed sea fans or shells {The Creativity Exchange}


To get started, you need a frame of any size.  Smaller shells like mine will work in any size frame.  However, for thicker shells, you will need to use larger size frames to get a little more room. For the collection that I made for my office, I used three 8 x 10 inch frames.  You will need an extra piece of glass for each frame and I picked up three cheap 8 x 10 frames from the dollar store ($1.00) each and just the glass from those frames:


DIY Double Sided Glass Frames for Framing Sea Fans and Shells {The Creativity Exchange}


For smaller frames like what I used, shells and sea fans can not be thicker than about 3/4 inch.  I used medium size sand dollars and mini sea biscuits that were around 3/4 inch and it was the perfect size for my 8 x 10 frames.

The first thing to do is to layout your collection of shells on the piece of glass that will be the backside:

How to make double-sided glass frames to display shell collections {The Creativity Exchange}


To help better guide you to see where the frame will be and how much room you have to keep your layout balanced, just place the frame itself onto the glass:


DIY Double-Sided Glass Frames for Framing Sea Fans and Shells (The Creativity Exchange)



Once you have your shells (or sea fans) laid out the way you want it, just pick up one shell at a time and use just a small dot of hot glue and then place it right back where you had it:

Tutorial for how to make double-sided glass frames to display shell collections {The Creativity Exchange}



When you are finished, put the front piece of glass in the frame and place the back pieces (the one with the glued shells) on top of the front like this:


DIY double-sided glass frames for framing shell collections - The Creativity Exchange


The next thing you’ll need to do is to get use a pair of super narrow electrical needle nose pliers and bend the metal tabs that secure the frame backing.  You will need to bend them over as tight as you can to secure the glass.  Depending on how thick your shells are, you might have a lot of metal tab to work with or very little:

see the tab on the left side below:


How to make double-side glass frames for framing shells and sea fans {The Creativity Exchange}


use the pliers to grab ahold of and fold over the metal tab to secure and hold the glass.  Don’t try to do this with your fingers, you could break the glass and you will not get as good of a fold this way:


How to DIY double-sided glass frames for displaying shell collections {The Creativity Exchange}


If you look closely, you can see how I used my pliers to get all of the tabs to fold over and hold the glass securely:


DIY double-sided glass frames for displaying shell collections and dyed sea fans (The Creativity Exchange)



Again, depending on the thickness of your shells, you may have very little metal tab to be able to fold over.  Even if you don’t have much, just try and get what little you can to fold over to help hold the glass in place.  If you feel like your glass is not as secure as you would like, use some heavy duty electrical tape (small amount) to secure each corner.  Don’t worry, you won’t see it if you do it like this:


How to make double-sided frames to display shells and sea fans {The Creativity Exchange}



When you are finished, it should look something like this:


How to make double sided glass frames for displaying shell collections {The Creativity Exchange}



DIY Double Sided Glass Frames for Framing Dyed Sea Fans or Shells (The Creativity Exhange)


Tutorial for how to make double-sided glass frames to display shell collections (The Creativity Exchange)

Keep in mind that you can do this project in as big or as small of a frame that you would like.  However, just make sure before you get started that your shell is not too thick that the back glass would not be able to be secured.  Also, this project is not just limited to shells, you can frame just about any kind of collection as long as it’s not too thick.


DIY Double-Sided Glass Frames for Shell Collections {The Creativity Exchange}
DIY Double-Sided Glass Frames for Shell Collections {The Creativity Exchange}
By the way, if you want to dye or paint your own sea fans to frame, I shared a tutorial for dyeing them here and spray painting them here.  If you want to add a pop of color and frame shells with a mat, you can check out the tutorial that I did two years ago here.

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and I will be back for a really inspiring Paint It Monday!



This entry was posted in Art, Decorate, DIY, Do It Yourself Projects, Wall Ideas and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to DIY Double Sided Glass Frames for Framing Shells or Dyed Sea Fans

  1. Those are incredible, I am in love with this idea ~ Lisa

  2. These are beautiful! Great tutorial by-the-way and these have been put on my MUST TRY list. Thanks for sharing with us!

  3. Leslie says:

    These are gorgeous and your tutorial is detailed and thorough! I have tons of shells and will be trying this creative way to display them. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Marcey says:

    Cyndy, I’m wondering if you could use clear adhesive glue dots (aka “snot dots”) in place of hot glue. You can get them in any craft store, in the scrapbooking section. They come in all different sizes!
    I’m wondering now, where to get sea fans…is it an excuse I can give my husband for a beachfront vacation??!!! LOL!

    • Cyndy says:

      I haven’t tried the glue dots yet but I think it could hold the lightest shells. Maybe several of the dots could hold heavier? That’s a great idea and I will try it! I like using just a small dap of hot glue because it will hold heavier shells and you can still pull it off if you want to use the shells for something else.

      Yes! I totally agree that you need to go in person, to the beach, to a shell store to be able to hand pick your fans! LOL! Smart thinking!

      You can order sea fans online too!

      Thanks so much Marcey for stopping by!

  5. Aunt Rose says:

    Any ideas on how to frame a small quilt with the two sided glass. Would not want to use glue. Your Aunt Betty did a lot of quilts and after she died Debbie gave me a small one. I want to get it framed and to be able to see both sides for viewing. The only thing I can think of is to use filament line to each corner (frame to quilt) to hold it in place but how would I attach the line to the frame?. Maybe you have a better idea. The other thought was to have the glass really tight on both sides to hold in place, but I don’t know if that will work. Let me know if you have any ideas. Love you, Aunt Rose

  6. Joyce says:

    I have a quilted fabric square that I wanted the front and back to show. This idea will be perfect to show off the quilting design on both sides. Great instructions!

  7. Ralinn says:

    Genius. I love this idea. Thanks for sharing. I like the frames you used. Where did you purchase them?

    • Cyndy says:

      I purchased them at Hobby Lobby Ralinn! I love them too and use these throughout my home because they work with almost anything.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Robbie says:

    Love, love, love these! Thanks for walking us through the procedure – even I might try it! Dynamite look!

  9. debbie j. says:

    These are beautiful, Cyndy. I can’t wait to make them. I, too, love anything to do with the sea. I was in St. Croix many years ago and flew back with two sea fans that my boyfriend brought up from the sea. Of course, because it smelled so fishy, my sweet mom put it into bleach. It bleached the most beautiful creamy white. I had it framed on a light blue mat and I still cherish it to this day. My mom did the same and loved it after that.

    Take care. Love, love your blog.

  10. Lisa says:

    Great tutorial! I’ve been trying to think of what to do with the pressed flowers from my wedding bouquet that wasn’t too “girly.” This is perfect! I can see an arrangement of 4 to 6 frames with the petals in a sitting area of our new home. Thanks!

  11. Vel says:

    Fell in love with your space over at Savvy Southern Style and this project is totally awesome as well!!!! I’m a new fan and follower! Keep up the great work!

  12. Bradley says:

    I was recently in Anna Maria, FL and my partner and I had collected some sand dollars and had the idea to frame them exactly the way you have them displayed (3 across, 3 down). I think it’s a fantastic idea and will look great. It will remind me of the memories years from now.

    Thank you for sharing your blog.

  13. Rachel says:

    I would like to frame polished pebbles out of sea glass (the kind that are flat on one side, curved on he other) and hang it in my window to ake a sun catcher. I want all the pebbles to be close together touching but not overlapping. I’m hoping the sun will shine through the pebbles. Do you think your frames will be the right size? And any suggestions on ow to secure he stones? I didn’t know if the glue would ruin the transparency of he stones.

  14. do you have to put some type of spacer between the two pieces of glass go keep the sand dollars from being squished? the frames must be fairly thick? great idea. thanks for help

  15. Stephannie says:

    I saw some prints that were framed in a designers shop this past weekend and it looked like they were attached to the glass on the front of the frame and did not have a back to the frame as you could see the wall color. I was wondering if this might be the way they were framed and I just did not see the other piece of glass? I was going to frame some art with one piece of glass and glue the print on each corner with the glue dots, but I just read where art work needed room for air circulation, so now I am rethinking my idea.

  16. Debbie says:

    How do you mount clear frames to a wall?
    There is no back to the frame where the hanging hardware was

  17. Pingback: Dyed Sea Fans...The Creativity Exchange

  18. Sophia says:

    I had the same idea, but couldn’t quite pin how to execute it. This helped so much! The result is awesome. 🙂 One tip for others I would say is if you are using smaller or finer shells, be careful not to crush them when you are clipping on the back piece of glass!

  19. Judy Myers says:

    I want to try this to frame a jigsaw puzzle (about 16″ x 27″) without damaging the puzzle with any kind of adhesive. I do not want the floating effect, just enough extra glass to attach the frame. Several frame shops have told me they can’t do it. All the more reason for me to prove them wrong!

  20. Bobbi says:

    Great idea and info!!

    I’m reposting the same question from below before I begin this project!! Thx!
    Worried the shells may get shattered in between
    glass, how do you space the glass so this doesn’t happen?

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