What To Make Out of Seashells

what to make out of seashells

Your family has enjoyed a week of sun and sand. You arrive home and begin to unload the car. Out tumbles a plastic pail. Inside is a collection of seashells, still covered in sand and smelling faintly of saltwater. Although seashells are beautiful on their own, it’s not usually practical to keep a bucket full of them sitting around your house.

The good news is: There are a lot of ways to use those seashells!

When it comes to seashells, there are so many great ways to use them! And it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to get creative. We think you’ll have so much fun using them to create artwork, decor, gifts and more that when you head back to the beach next summer, you’ll take along an extra pail specifically to fill with shells!

What’s So Great About Seashells?

There’s something inherently relaxing about the beach. Family beach activities make us happy, and the memories of summer vacation often get us through cold winters. When you decorate with seashells, you’ll be able to look back fondly on your family vacation all year long. When you use the things you’ve made as gifts, it’s like you’re sharing that precious memory with someone else.

The other excellent thing about using seashells you’ve discovered at one of your family beach vacation spots is that they are an inexpensive way to decorate. If you’re using shells you found at the beach, they don’t cost anything, and the few supplies you’ll need to display them won’t break the bank either.

We also love shells because it doesn’t take a lot of work to make them look beautiful. Seashell trinkets and decor are a fun project for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves “crafty,” because it doesn’t take a lot of talent to make beautiful items with them.

Tips for Crafting With Shells

tips for crafting with shells

Before you get started, there are a few things to know about crafting with shells.

1. Cleanliness Is Key

Before you do anything with your shells, thoroughly wash and dry them. Stray particles of sand or a few drops of water can make all the difference between success and failure when it comes to these projects.

2. Provide Proper Supervision for Children

Many of the shell crafts listed below are family-friendly. However, make sure to keep a close eye on your children throughout the process. Never allow young children to handle a drill or maximum-strength epoxy without adult supervision. Make sure to read through the directions and identify any adult-only parts of the process.

3. Embrace Imperfections

The beauty of shells is that each one has slightly different shades, designs and markings. It’s tempting to create patterns and uniform designs for some of these projects, but let go of the urge for perfection and embrace the random, natural look seashells bring to any craft.

What Can I Make With Seashells?

Now that you’re excited about creating shell decor and mementos, it’s time to get down to business. You could check out Pinterest or other websites for ideas, or you can check out our top 10 favorite ways to incorporate seashells into gifts and home decor.

1. Christmas Ornaments

christmas ornaments

Supplies needed: Shells, craft glue, small paintbrush, fine glitter in a variety of colors, ribbon, drill with a 1/16″ bit, faux pearls or other beads

Seashells make thoughtful gifts and look gorgeous on any Christmas tree. Plus, they’re simple to decorate. You may start out making these delicate ornaments for friends, but don’t be surprised if you decide to keep a few for yourself.

  • Use the paintbrush to apply a thin layer of glue all over the surface of the shell.
  • Once the glue is on, slowly apply the glitter, using a spoon to ensure you don’t accidentally dump too much on at once. For best results, do one section of the shell at a time.
  • After you have covered the surface of each shell, turn them over and apply glitter to the other side.
  • If desired, use more glue and beads or pearls to add unique touches or designs to each shell.
  • When the shells are completely dry, use the drill to make a small hole at the top of the shell, then thread the ribbon through the hole. You can add additional pearls or beads to the ribbon for more bling.

Note: If you’re painting a spiral shell, skip the drill and use a hot glue gun to glue the ribbon in place. Drilling a spiral shell could cause it to break.

2. Seashell Lights

Supplies needed: One — or more — shells, strings of white lights, epoxy

These lights are simple to make, but add a festive touch to an outdoor living space.

  • Unwrap a string of white lights and place them flat on a clean, dry surface. Tape the string of lights to the surface to avoid unwanted bunching or movement.
  • After lights are flat, spread a light layer of epoxy along the hinge side of the seashell — what most people would consider the bottom of the shell.
  • Press the part of the shell with the epoxy onto the base of each light. Repeat with more shells until you have covered each light on the strand.

Note: It’s best to work in two-foot sections, allowing each section to dry for five minutes before continuing. Allow the strand plenty of time to dry before hanging it up.

3. Memory Jars

Supplies needed: Assorted shells, clean sand, clear bottles or jars of various sizes, stickers or glass pen markers to label jars

You’ll always remember your family’s trip to the beach with these memory jars.

  • Place sand in the bottom of the jar.
  • Arrange three to four shells on the sand.
  • Use the markers and stickers to write out the location and date you found the shells, then place the jar in a spot where everyone can look at and enjoy it.

Note: You can make one large memory jar for your whole family, or you can opt to make smaller jars and gift them to each person who joined you on the trip. These make a thoughtful and unexpected gift around the holidays, when many people are the most nostalgic for the sun and sand of their summer vacation.

4. Shell Wreath

shell wreath

Supplies needed: Shells, foam wreath form, hot glue gun

Put your shells on display for everyone with this crafty project. Use the hot glue gun to place a small amount of glue on each shell and fill out the wreath form. You can follow a specific pattern, or glue them randomly into place.

Note: One the glue has set, you can add a colorful decorative ribbon to finish the wreath.

5. Seashell Candles

Supplies needed: Shells, paraffin or old pieces of a candle, candlewick

Form meets function in these seashell candles. Use them as part of a centerpiece or holiday gifts for co-workers.

  • Clean and dry medium to large shells, then set them out on old newspaper or cardboard, making sure to protect the table surface from wax spills.
  • Place paraffin or candle pieces into a double boiler, stirring slowly until completely melted.
  • Once the wax has melted, remove the bowl from the double boiler and slowly pour a small amount of hot wax into each shell — how much wax you pour will depend on the size of the shell.
  • Moving quickly, place a piece of candlewick into each pool of hot wax before it can begin to cool. Make sure to leave the top of each wick out of the wax so you can light it later on.

Note: This project will only work with larger shells, since you’ll need enough wax for the wick to stay up and burn.

6. Seasonal Shell Centerpieces

seasonal shell centerpieces

Supplies needed: Shells, hot glue gun, votive candles, evergreen wreaths

Incorporate seashells into your seasonal decor with a festive table wreath.

  • First, lightly flock the evergreen wreath to give it an illusion of snow.
  • Using a hot glue gun, gently attach shells around the circumference of the wreath.
  • Incorporate other decorative items, such as decorative coral and starfish, or seasonal items such as votive candles, pearls or small Christmas balls.

Note: Once the centerpiece is ready for display, place a hurricane with a candle in the center for some extra glam. You can select a seasonal color for the candle or opt for the ever-classy white.

7. Seashell Drawer Handles

Supplies needed: Shells, maximum-strength epoxy, flat drawer pulls

If you’re looking for a more prominent way to display the shells you collected at the beach, this is a great option.

  • If necessary, paint the dresser or chest of drawers you’re using. A neutral color, such as white or beige, is ideal because it will highlight the many colors and patterns of the shells you choose.
  • Replace old drawer handles — also called pulls — with flat ones that will easily fit inside the medium-sized shells you’ve chosen.
  • Place maximum-strength epoxy onto each handle, then gently press the shell — the interior side facing the handle — into the epoxy.
  • Allow them to dry overnight before use.

Note: For this project, you’ll want to select shells that are relatively flat so they can easily rest on the epoxy. Also, make sure to use shells that are at least as large as the drawer pulls you choose, so they’ll cover the handles.

8. Decorative Clay Pots

decorative clay pots

Supplies needed: Shells, small or medium-sized clay pots, paint, maximum-strength epoxy

These adorable clay pots make a charming addition to a powder room or kitchen space. They’re perfect for storing washcloths, hand towels or any number of smaller decorative or practical accessories. And, they make an inexpensive gift option for teachers, co-workers or friends who love the sea.

  • If desired, paint clay pots, selecting a paint color that coordinates well with the room where you plan to use the pot.
  • Once the paint is dry, cover the rim with a thin layer of epoxy, then carefully attach shells around the pot. You can attach them in a pattern if you have several that are similar, or you can opt for a more natural look and attach whatever you have until you have covered the rim.

Note: For a little extra pizzazz, brush the shells with a thin layer of pearl acrylic paint. Doing so will give them an extra shine that takes this project from good to great.

9. Melted Crayon Seashells

Supplies needed: Shells, baking sheet, oven, crayons of various colors

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly seashell craft, this one is ideal because it’s simple and attention-grabbing.

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • After shells are clean and dry, place them onto a baking sheet.
  • Place shells into the oven to allow them to warm up.
  • After three to five minutes, use an oven mitt to remove one shell at a time.
  • Cautioning your child not to touch the shell with their hands, have them gently press a crayon onto the surface of the hot shell, allowing the wax of the crayon to slowly melt onto the surface of the shell. Encourage your child to create patterns and designs. After a few minutes, the shell will lose heat and won’t melt the crayons, so you may need to put it back into the oven and then pull it out to continue drawing on it.

Note: This craft is kid-friendly, but you should only do it with children who are old enough to understand that they cannot directly touch the hot shells. Use caution when attempting this with younger children.

10. Seashell Jewelry

seashell jewelry

Supplies needed: Small-to-medium-sized shells, 18′ — or longer — chain, 10mm jump rings, rotary tool or drill with a 1/16″ drill bit, needle-nosed pliers

Seashell jewelry is a beautiful and personal way to preserve your summertime memories. And it’s a unique way to dress up your outfit, whether you’re heading to work or out to lunch with friends.

  • Select a small, clean shell.
  • Many shells already have a hole in the top, but if the shell you selected does not, use your rotary tool or drill to carefully make a small hole in the top of the shell.
  • At this point, you can thread the chain of your choice through the hole. Or, you can use the pliers to pry open a jump ring and use it to connect the shell and the chain.

Note: Although the jump ring does add an extra step, it’s a great addition to your seashell necklace because it makes it easier to add other charms around your shell for a little extra bling.

Family Beach Vacation Spots

There are so many unique and special ways to use the seashells you collect during your family trips to the beach. But don’t stop making memories! When it comes to top family beach destinations, there’s nowhere like Ocean City, NJ. As “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Ocean City, NJ activities and beaches are the perfect choice for family vacations.

It’s never too early to start planning your next family vacation. Visit us online for a comprehensive guide to this beloved New Jersey seaside destination.

ocean city, nj is a top family beach destination, view our guide

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