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Project

Seashell Bookends

Introduction

Use large shells, such as conch, tun, or whelk, brought home from your vacation or bought at a flea market or shell shop. Filled with plaster, the shells are heavy enough to provide support while adding a decorative element to any shelf. As you dive into your next book this winter, these treasures will remind you of warm days on the beach.

Shells should be cleaned with warm water and mild dishwashing soap before beginning this project.

Materials

  • Seashells (conch, tun, or whelk)
  • Dishwashing soap
  • Tub
  • Sand
  • Casting plaster
  • Disposable cup and spoon
  • Pencil
  • Velvet
  • Fabric scissors
  • Spray adhesive
  • Rubber surface protectors

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Fill a tub halfway with sand. Nestle a shell in the sand with the opening face up. In a disposable cup, mix the casting plaster, following package instructions. Carefully spoon the plaster into the opening of the shell until it is completely filled; let shell dry in this position.

  2. Step 2

    With a pencil, trace the opening of the shell onto the back of a piece of velvet (use a color that complements the shell). Cut out the shape, and use spray mount to affix the velvet to the plaster-filled opening. Attach rubber surface protectors to any parts of the shell that might touch your shelf; this will prevent it from sliding or scratching the surface.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, January 2004

Reviews (14)

  • 13 Jun, 2010

    sounds like a good idea. i've got a couple of big conch shells that have been floating around for years without a home, and

  • 1 Sep, 2008

    To the above plaster bottom, add the rubber surface protectors in Martha's #2 above. Sign and date the bottom.

  • 1 Sep, 2008

    Instead of the velt which is a dust-collector and hard to keep clean, after the shell is filled to the top and dry, find a plastic lid larger than the shell is wide and deep enough to fill with more plaster so that when you place the shell filled side down into it, it will be able to hold the shell. Put sand and maybe some other much smaller shells pressed a little into the plaster. When the whole thing is totally dry, remove plastic lid

  • 31 Aug, 2008

    Hanging small shells(or lg. snalls) outside in trees. Fill with small pepples,soil and small vines,spider plants,air plants etc. Drill small [filtered word] on top of shell for hanging
    I have also used large shells as little planters. A particularly memorable one was a nautilus with a violet, suspended with fishing line in front of a window. Sorry, not photo--this was in the days of film photography.

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    Hanging small shells(or lg. snalls) outside in trees. Fill with small pepples,soil and small vines,spider plants,air plants etc. Drill small [filtered word] on top of shell for hanging

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    I have also used large shells as little planters. A particularly memorable one was a nautilus with a violet, suspended with fishing line in front of a window. Sorry, not photo--this was in the days of film photography.
    Joy

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    oooooo...I love this idea. I have lots of books and always can use new bookend ideas. Nice bookends can be very pricey!

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    Using a clear poly spray on the shell will bring out its color too.

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    Clever. When I saw the shell my first thought was "It's not heavy enough." I had to see what you did and it sounds really easy. This is one I'll try.

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    Clever. When I saw the shell my first thought was "It's not heavy enough." I had to see what you did and it sounds really easy. This is one I'll try.

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    If you don't have any scrap velvet handy, felt works well too.

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    Please DO NOT purchase shells from shell shops/craft stores unless you are certain that the shells have not been taken from coral reefs. Taking of shells from reefs is a serious detriment to the health of the reefs and sealife, and unfortunately is a real problem. Half the fun is finding a great treasure along the seashore!

  • 28 Aug, 2008

    This will be perfect on a shelf in our living room. We live two blocks from the beach, and this will remind me of how close I am to the beautiful sea, and how much I love it.

  • 8 Jul, 2008

    This is wonderful! I use a large shell as a doorstop; it is very pretty.