Coastal DIY – Shell Keepsakes

My Post-7We’ve all been to a souvenir store while on vacation. Those places are awesome, right? Anything and everything you could dream of to remember your time on the beach! But have you ever wanted something unique or different? Something only you could have? Something that was special and specifically represented the moments you shared with your loved ones from the beach? We wanted to find a way to preserve those special beach memories and share those steps with you!

Where do you start? We started thinking, as locals, what do you see often in our area? The first thought was something tasty and readily available: Oysters! Have you ever seen the inside of these beautiful shells? They bring together the deep blues, dusty pinks and sugar whites that make you think of a coastal getaway.

Next, what could you use or need in your home that could be made from oyster shells? Some suggestions we found were jewelry dishes, change holders or even wall art. That’s what we are going to attempt.

After speaking to our friends at Papa Rocco’s, they were kind enough to save us a bucket of shells for this coastal themed Do It Yourself! Once you have your shells (which you can ask any restaurant that serves oysters for after your meal), here is a step by step process to turning these little lookers into a conversation piece!

IMG_2540Step 1: Cleaning

Let us go ahead and state that while these fresh from the sea delicacies are delicious, the cleaning process of the shells isn’t the loveliest of jobs. You’ll first want to rinse them all off, preferably with a hose outside. After that, take a 5-gallon bucket and pour half and half bleach and water. We let ours sit overnight.

IMG_2541The next morning, you’ll want to put them in a basket and rinse through again. From here, you’ll want to begin cleaning any remaining debris off the shells. (We let ours dry out a little more and found that this just made everything a slightly stickier to remove.) If you find any bits that are tough to disconnect from the shell, we used a grill cleaning brush to help us out. After all this, you’ll want to take a wet cloth to remove anything else.

IMG_2551Step 2: Painting

When deciding what colors to paint our shellbacks, we stuck with our coastal theme and went with a seafoam green and white. We purchased these in both brush-on and spray-on, to see which we liked best. To give our shells just a little pop, we purchased a small jar of gold foil to paint around the rim of our shells as well. Lastly, the friendly craft store employee pointed out that we should use a spray-on top coat to ensure the color lasts.

IMG_2549We began by selecting a few of our favorite clean shells and lining them up on either a paper towel or flattened cardboard box. Only the shellbacks were painted so the beauty of the inside shell will still be on display. The bulk of the shells we spray painted while a select few were hand painted. These shells don’t take long to dry because they are so brittle. After only a few minutes, you should be able to move on to the gold foil trim!

IMG_2558Before you begin the next step, you’ll want to be sure to shake up the gold foil jar well. Using an angled paintbrush, you can start lining just the shell edge with gold. This step could be a little intimidating but you’ll find that the imperfection of your painting goes perfectly with the ruggedness of the shell! Once this has set for a day, go back with your spray on a top coat on both sides.

IMG_2625At this point, you have a decision to make. How do you want to use these? We had two useful ideas. The first was to group 3 shells together and use them on your vanity as a jewelry dish. The second was to glue the shells to a canvas painted white and create some wall art.

IMG_8393Step 3: Arranging and gluing your shells

If you are going the wall art direction, you’ll want to play around with how you want to arrange your shells on your canvas. You’ll see pictured a few different versions. Once you’ve selected your desired layout, you can heat up your glue gun and start adhering your shells to the canvas. You’ll want to hold each of them down securely and allow it all to dry overnight.

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Step 4: ENJOY!

Now that you’ve created a perfect little reminder of your vacation together, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor! You can find beauty in so many things from the Alabama Gulf Coast during your next trip! Be sure to share your Coastal DIY with us on social media when you’re done!

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