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Project

Summer Collection Box

Display your beach-combing finds by filling a picture frame with seashells and showing off their nuances of color and shape. Mount one kind of shell -- or as many types as you can find at your vacation spot this year.

Introduction

Bivalve sunray and coquina shells suggest butterflies; rows of scallops look modern and iconic; or just create an artful freeform assortment.

Can't get to the beach? You can purchase shells at seashellcity.com. If you don't want to make your own frame, you can also buy readymade deep-sided frames, or scrapboxes. Be sure your picture frame is deep enough to accommodate the contents.

Try out our other shadow box projects to help keep your vacation memories alive: Souvenir Box and Specimen Box.

Materials

  • Deep-sided picture frame
  • Ruler 
  • Balsa wood
  • Utility knife 
  • Double-sided tape 
  • Decorative paper 
  • Spray adhesive 
  • Shells 
  • Pencil 
  • Craft glue or museum wax 
  • Paper label (optional) 
  • Brown-paper tape 
  • Mounting hardware and picture wire (optional)

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Remove the cardboard or pressboard backing of the frame. Discard clips, if any. With a utility knife, cut four pieces of balsa wood to fit inside the frame (resting on its inside ridge, 1/8 inch shallower than its sides) to create a new inset for the backing; two pieces of balsa wood should be the length of the frame's interior and two slightly shorter than the width.

  2. Step 2

    Using double-sided tape, attach the four pieces inside the frame, starting with the longer pieces.

  3. Step 3

    Cut a piece of decorative paper the size of the frame's backing. Affix the paper to the backing with spray adhesive.

  4. Step 4

    Arrange your shells on this surface; use small pencil dots to indicate their placement. Secure shells to paper with glue or wax. Let dry. If you like, use glue to affix a label, identifying the shells and indicating where and when you found them.

  5. Step 5

    Insert the backing into the frame, resting on the balsa wood. Tape backing to frame with brown-paper tape. Add mounting hardware to the wooden frame and picture wire for hanging, if desired.