Martha Stewart Living, August/September 1993
Scrub and soak the shells in soap and water, or lighten them in a solution of half bleach and half water; allow them to dry thoroughly.
Meanwhile, paint the front of a flat wooden picture frame white or pastel to match your shells. Use black paint for the underside and inside edge, which will be reflected in the mirror.
Mercury mirror glass, which resembles an antique mirror, is available at fine glass stores; its soft, aged look is suited to weathered shells. Have it cut to size; a framing store can secure it to the back of the wood.
Sort your shells by size, shape, and color, then arrange them on the frame in even rows, using delicate shells such as snails to line the inner edge, full shells such as tulips for the middle row, and flat scallops or cockles to form a fluted border.
Then glue them down one at a time using extra-thick craft glue from an art-supply store. Broken pieces of shell can help prop up whole shells from behind.
Soap or Bleach
Black and White (or Pastel) Paint
Mercury Mirror Glass
Extra-thick craft glue
Two hundred years later, travelers lug shells back from the beach by the bagful, but they seldom know what to do with them. A homemade shell mirror turns beachcombing from random collecting into an artistic endeavor.