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.
- Flat picture frame
- Wood primer (optional)
- Acrylic paint (optional)
- Polaroid camera (optional)
- Craft glue
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.
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.
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.