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Crafting with Sea Shells
By Marie Browning, Marie Browning Creates

 

Clean your shells you have gathered from the beach by scrubbing with soap and water. Bleaching the shell give them a weathered sun baked look and softens the hues thereby blending the look when displayed together. Mix a solution of half bleach and half water and allow the shells to soak until the desired shade is attained. Scent cleaned shells and sea glass by brushing on scented oil. The shell absorbs the oil and the scent lasts for a long time. I have had limited success in tinting bleached shells with cold water dyes and Ciba dyes. I tend to prefer the natural hues anyway! Use your shells to glue on a wooden frame to hold a cherished holiday photograph, or on a wooden box top that has been distressed with shades of white and taupe. Another idea is to display your scented shells in a large clamshell to perfume and beautify a room.

SEASIDE POTPURRI

This natural, fresh scented potpourri is impressive in a summer cottage, a guest bathroom or a sea-theme sitting room. It not only refreshes the air, but also helps to repel nasty summer bugs.

Materials:
cup dried lavender buds (this will be your main scent)
1-cup green tinted oakmoss (this adds a real "seaweed "look to your potpourri as well as acting as a efficient fixative to hold the scent)
2 cups of dried blue flowers (larkspur, hydrangea or delphinium)
cup of dried green leaves (delphinium leaves or willow eucalyptus)
Small sea shells and starfish to accent
1 heaping tablespoon orris root with 20 drops of peppermint oil

Display your blended potpourri in a large clam shell or abalone shell.

SEASHELL CANDLES

The material list for this project is short, but results are beautiful, romantic candles to decorate a bathroom, screened porch or garden party table.

Materials:

Seashells; Choose shells which have and opening approximately 2" to 4" across Scallop shells, small abalone, conch shells, oyster and moon snail shells all make good choices).
Beeswax, (coloured and scented)
Wick; (cotton braided, size 0/2, about 3" per shell)
Artificial pearls, (for decorating your candle)

Procedure:

Start by testing your shells for any holes by filling each shell with water and watching for leaks. To plugs any holes dry the shell and place a small amount of glue to the outside over the crack or hole. Let the glue dry completely. Protect your counter with newspaper and place the shells on your work surface, making sure each is stable with the cavity facing up. Melt the wax in a tin can in which a spout has been pinched out. *Always use caution when melting wax, and always place tin can in a water bath while melting. Wax the pieces of wick by dipping into the melted was and then into cold water to set. Pour the melted wax into the shell cavity. Place in waxed wick piece. Wait until the wax starts to set before pressing your pearl into the surface far away from the wick. When the candles have cooled completely, trim the wick within " of the surface.

(Hint: to secure scallop shells on your work surface and ensure an even level of wax, place a teaspoon of salt on the surface for each shell, then position the shell in the salt. This small amount is just enough to hold the shell level while pouring the wax)

SEASHELL PINCUSHIONS

Inspired by the natural pink and beige hues of the shells, this simple project is easy and inexpensive to recreate.

Materials:
Seashells; Whelks, pink-mouthed murex, conch and snail-type shells are all good choices.
Small scrap of fabric, matching the colour to your chosen shell
Pearls; mother-of-pearl buttons and beads to embellish
Small piece of lace (optional)
Polyester fiberfill
White craft glue
Bead and charm decorated pins

Procedure:
1. To calculate the size of circle to cut from the fabric, measure the opening on the shell and double it. For example, a shell with a 1-1/2" opening cut a circle from your fabric 3" in diameter.
2. With button thread in your needle, sew a gathering stitch " along the outside edge of the circle. Pull to gather and stuff with a small amount of Fiberfil. Stuff firmly and pull tightly to close opening. Make a few stitches to hold and knot off.
3. Place glue around inside edge of shell opening; push in the cushion firmly. Let dry before proceeding.
4. If you wish, glue a piece of lace around your cushion where it emerges from the shell cavity.
5. Embellish the shell around the cushion by gluing on pearls and buttons.
6. Finish with a few decorative pins placed in the cushion.

SEASALT CRYSTALS

Mix up a batch of shiny crystals and place in a glass bottle adorned with a seashell.

Recipe
1 cup of coarse rock salt
3 drops of food colouring
20–25 drops of fragrance oil, a blend of peppermint and lavender makes a nice breezy scent
1 Tablespoon glycerine

Procedure
Place the rock salt into a glass jar with a lid. Drop the food colouring and fragrance oil in. Shake vigorously until well mixed. Add the glycerine, to enhance the colour and moisturizing qualities of the salts, and shake to mix. Place in a dark cupboard and shake every day for a week. Transfer salts into a decorative glass jar with a seashell glued to the top of the cork. Use up to one cup per bath.

(Hint: Push a short nail into the top of your cork, with " protruding. Pour a generous amount of glue into the shell opening, then place on the nail. This gives the shell a tighter hold onto the cork and will not pop off when you attempt to take the cork on and off).

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