Crafts to Make With Shells

Cyndee Kromminga
Shell Crafts

Take all of those shells you collected during your last vacation and create one of these beautiful craft projects to show them off. Preserve your getaway memories with seashell ornaments, wall decor or jewelry that will have you reminiscing about the great times you had with your loved ones.

Sailor's Valentine Wall Plaque

During the 1800s, sailors who were away from their sweethearts for long periods of time often made or purchased items made from shells from the places they traveled. These items were commonly called Sailor's Valentines. Usually they were octagonal-shaped shell collages. While this project isn't octagonal, the heart shape of this shell collage is loosely based on those quaint sailor gifts.

Sailors' Valentine Wall Plaque

Things You Will Need:

What to Do:

  1. Using a jig saw, cut a 14" length from an old, weathered piece of scrap wood with an approximate width of 11 1/2". Size is really a personal preference with this project. You do not need exact measurements or straight cutting lines. Imperfections will add "found-by-the-shore" character to your finished plaque.
  2. Draw a heart on the board with the heart edges approximately 2" from the board edges.
    Trace heart outline.
    Trace heart outline.
  3. Place the largest of your mini seashells on the traced line. These shells should be no larger than 1 1/2". Slightly space these shells apart. Apply craft glue to the bottom edges to secure.
  4. Place additional shells of the same size or smaller between the spaces to further shape your heart. Apply glue to secure.
    Begin to build the shape.
    Begin to build the shape.
  5. Continue to glue on more shells to build and fill in the collage.
  6. Glue assorted pearl beads and the smallest of the mini shells in the remaining spaces and voids. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly.
    Add small shells
    Add smaller shells and pearl beads.
  7. Optional: Add a sawtooth hanger to the back for hanging, if desired, or prop it on a shelf to display.

Glitter Scallop Ornaments

Christmas decorations made from seashells are a great way to remember your summer vacation, and these ornaments are the perfect project for your kids to make. After all, what kid doesn't love glitter!

Glitter Scallop Ornaments

Things You Will Need:

  • Scallop shell, 2" to 3"
  • Drill
  • 1/16" drill bit
  • Craft wire
  • Ruler
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Craft glue
  • Two paper plates
  • Paintbrush
  • Glitter

What to Do:

Note: Steps 1 and 2 should be done by an adult prior to children beginning the craft.

  1. Prepare the shell. Drill a hole in the bowl of a scallop shell using a 1/16" drill bit. This hole should be centered on the hinge edge. Since scallop shells are usually quite thin, use light pressure when drilling to avoid chipping and cracking.
  2. Cut a 7" length of craft wire using wire cutters. Insert the wire through the hole and bend the wires up with the ends even. Twist at the top of the shell using needle-nose pliers. Twist the last 1/2" of the ends together. Spread the wires between the twists to form the hanger. (This step can be done last, but it is recommended to do it now to give children a handle to hold while crafting.)
    Drill and attach hanger.
    Drill and attach hanger.
  3. Pour a quarter-size dollop of craft glue on a paper plate. Add a few drops of water, mixing it with a paintbrush. Paint the entire outer surface of the shell with the thinned glue mixture.
    Paint the shell with glue.
    Paint the shell with glue.
  4. Hold the shell over another paper plate and sprinkle with glitter. Shake off the excess and allow to dry. Save your excess glitter for other projects by bending the plate to resemble a taco and carefully pouring it back into the glitter jar.

Seashell Pendant Necklace

Purchasing shell jewelry souvenirs for gift-giving can be a bit pricey, but you can easily make shell pendants for all the women on your list at a fraction of the ready-made price.

Shell Pendant Necklace

Things You Will Need:

  • Cockle shell, approximately 2" wide
  • Drill
  • 1/16" drill bit
  • Four to six assorted miniature shells
  • Six or seven pearl beads of various sizes
  • Craft glue
  • 1 1/2" silver eye pin
  • 8mm silver split jump ring
  • Silver chain necklace (in whatever length desired)
  • Needle-nose pliers

What to Do:

  1. Hold the cockle shell with the umbo (hinge side) facing up. Using a drill and a 1/16" drill bit, drill straight down through the umbo. This will take a little time and patience. Cockle shells can be very hard and the umbo is thicker than the bowl section of the shell. Apply firm pressure, but don't get carried away or you could snap your bit.
  2. Thread a small pearl bead onto a 1 1/2" silver eye pin. Insert the eye pin from the inside of the shell to the outside, through the drilled hole. Grasp the end of the eye pin with the nose of your needle-nose pliers. Rotate the pliers, curling the pin around the nose. Continue curling until the the pliers are tight against the shell. Remove the pliers.
    Attach the eye pin.
    Attach the eye pin.
  3. Arrange the assorted miniature seashells in the bowl of the shell. Apply craft glue to the bottoms of the shells to secure to the shell. Apply glue to the pearl beads and randomly place them over the shell arrangement. Allow the glue to dry.
    Fill with an assortment of mini shells.
    Fill with an assortment of mini shells.
  4. Attach a 8mm silver, split, jump ring to the curls of the eye pin. Attach the pendant to a silver chain necklace.

Shell Collecting and Resources

Your shell stock will most likely consist of your personal shell collecting along the shore. The following are a few things to keep in mind while amassing your seashell stash, along with a few resource ideas for purchasing shells.

  • Many beaches and public shores allow shell collecting but some do not. When in doubt, always check with local municipalities on laws and shelling regulations.
  • Carefully check to make sure your shells are not living, or have not been recently inhabited by a hermit crab.
  • Clean your shells by first soaking them in a 50-50 mixture of bleach and water. When the debris loosens, use a small brush or rag to finish cleaning the surface.
  • Walmart and The Dollar Tree sell bags of assorted shells in their floral supplies sections, and most craft stores also carry a variety of seashells for craft projects.
  • For those projects that require more shells or sizes you don't have, try Seashells.com. They have a wonderful selection.

Casual Shell Decor

If you are not the crafty type, you can still show off your beach finds. Fill a large jar with your shell assortment to use as a book end, or add sand to a large bowl, sprinkle with your shell collection and add the whole display to your coffee table for a fun conversation starter.

Crafts to Make With Shells