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Project

Shell Mirror

Introduction

The beach enthralls collectors of driftwood, rocks rubbed smooth by the tides and wind, and, of course, seashells. 

Shells turn up by the bucketful in seemingly endless variations of size, shape, color, and texture, each with its own idiosyncratic beauty. If the shells you find are put to a creative use, they will bring summer to mind long after the season has passed. 

Try making a mirror with an ordinary picture frame and assorted shells. When collecting the shells, be selective, and try to choose distinctive examples that will make an interesting pattern.

Shells can be purchased at Sanibel Seashells. Martha used an international array of shells for her mirror, including the rounded screw shell from West Africa; the Cuban turrid; the broad-ribbed cardita from Florida; the jingle shell, which populates coastal waters stretching from Massachusetts to Brazil; and the fragile Atlantic mactra, which is indigenous to the coast running from North Carolina to Brazil.

Materials

  • Flat picture frame
  • Shells
  • Wood primer (optional)
  • Acrylic paint (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Polaroid camera (optional)
  • Craft glue

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Choose a frame that is inexpensive and flat, as the shells will be glued onto its surface. The frame can be either painted or unfinished wood; if you want to paint it yourself, use wood primer first, then an acrylic paint. The mirror itself can be made by applying silverleaf to the back side of the glass included in the frame, which gives it an antique look that complements the shells, or by having a glazier cut a custom piece of mirrored glass.

  2. Step 2

    Arrange the shells on the frame to form a pattern; then, make pencil marks or take a Polaroid picture to use as a guide when gluing the shells in place. Any variety of shell will work as long as the size suits the proportions of your frame. Begin gluing the shells onto the frame with craft glue, attaching the bottom layer of shells in your pattern first. Continue to create your pattern by gluing shells to overlap the first layer. Finally, allow your work to dry overnight.

  3. Step 3

    Begin gluing the shells onto the frame with craft glue, attaching the bottom layer of shells in your pattern first. Continue to create your pattern by gluing shells to overlap the first layer. Finally, allow your work to dry overnight.

Source
Martha Stewart Living Television

Reviews (8)

  • Granitemom 8 Aug, 2008

    I want to make a border on an existing bathroom mirror without a wood frame. What would be the best adhesive to use?

  • njoceangirl 11 Jul, 2008

    I've been wanting to create a large frame around my circular bathrrom mirror and embellish it with shells. Thank you for the inspriation along with this shell mirror. I just need to find a way to cut a pice of wood in a circular pattern to fit the mirror! I live about 1 hour form the beach and have been collecting many different shells for a long time! It's my summertime project! Instead of moss I'm going to use sand to use as a base before I glue the shells on top...

  • delightfulgarden 9 Jul, 2008

    several years ago I did this around my bathroom mirror which is about 3' x 5'. Most shells came from others that didn't want them any more and I purchased the rest on sale. I had some lumber about 1/2" thick by 3" wide and screwed that into the wall around the mirror. Hot glued spanish moss to the wood, then covered it in shells of various styles and sizes. I placed 4 large star fish in the corners. After 12 years I still enjoy the look. I clean the shells with a tooth brush and water.

  • loislane1947 6 Jul, 2008

    For us not close to an ocean, buying shells would be a lot less expensive than going there to collect them, which I'd rather do myself. This looks very nice, and I have a lot of bare walls

  • loislane1947 6 Jul, 2008

    For us not close to an ocean, buying shells would be a lot less expensive than going there to collect them, which I'd rather do myself. This looks very nice, and I have a lot of bare walls

  • peaceandlight 6 Jul, 2008

    Better yet, go to Sanibel Island and collect the shells yourself! ;) Then go to Venice beach (Florida, not California) and find some shark teeth for a unique embellishment!---although the "refurbishing" of the beach a number of years ago buried the fossilized teeth, making them harder to find.

    Also, try a random, mosaic-style technique. Then you can get small children involved without having to correct their "mistakes!"

  • jnapier 6 Jul, 2008

    Being land-locked in the midwest, I would have to pay for shells if I want to do this project in a timely manner! lol Glad to have a website for ordering, ty MSO!

  • maryhef 6 Jul, 2008

    PAY for shells??? Pul-leez! This project is very versatile, tho'. Make frames for the great photos of the kids at the beach or that spectacular sunset. Polaroid??? Go digital to save your layout.