25 Seashell Crafts That Are Fun for Everyone
A favorite warm-weather pastime, looking for seashells is a great way to enjoy the summer sun and your time at the beach. The hunt for these creatures of days gone by takes on a new meaning when you use your haul to make any of these creative DIYs. In this gallery, we're sharing a mix of crafts you can make using all those seashells you've collected along the shoreline.
How versatile are shells? As it turns out, they can be used in so many different ways. We're showing you everything from table décor ideas to front door accessories guaranteed to enhance your home's curb appeal. A project that will get you in the DIY spirit is our metallic shell candleholder centerpiece—it's easy to make and is sure to add a little something extra to your dinner table. Simply spray-paint shells and melt wax to create a new cherished tabletop accessory. Another fun craft? A mussel shell wreath. You can put a summery twist on what's otherwise a holiday essential by adorning your door with a beautiful collection of seashells.
Want to get your kids in on the DIY fun? We have plenty of activities they'll enjoy, too. Seashell Keychains are a great craft for little hands to work on, and they're the perfect accessory your children are sure to love. Kids can attach them to their backpacks as a reminder of their summer fun, while adults can use theirs to embellish purses or handbags. The craft calls for the use of a Dremel rotary tool workstation, though, so you'll want to make sure there's an adult on hand to help them with this step.
Another fun yet functional DIY is our seashell night-light. Make one with your child or give it as a gift that's sure to brighten anyone's day. The ideas don't stop here. Ahead, find more creative takes on seashell crafts.
Ombré Glittered Seashell Ornaments
A festive decoration during the holiday season, these sparkling ornaments are perfect for decorating your Christmas tree. Making this DIY is easy: All you need to do is drill a hole at one end of the shell and add a loop of metallic cord. If you're using spiral shells, simply hot glue a loop on instead.
Kids headed back to school can savor a piece of summer all year long by attaching one of these seashell keychains onto their backpacks. Just make sure to have a craft drill and workstation to pierce the shells in order to make the keychain.
Shell Garden Pots
Bring a reminder of your favorite beach vacation to your backyard garden with a few of these shell-adorned pots. You can start off by sorting through shells to decide on a color scheme before you get going with the larger shells. Working in sections, glue shells to the pot and overlap the pot's rim slightly to conceal the top edge while gluing smaller shells and coral bits to fill in any open spots. For barnacle pots, resize clusters by gently prying them apart with a screwdriver or mallet, and glue clusters to the pot's top edge.
Sand Dollar Mirror
Sand dollars are pretty on their own but when turned into a frame the results are spectacular. To make this seashell craft, lay the mirror on a flat surface. Starting with the larger size sand dollars, position them on the mirror before layering on the medium-size ones; continue by adding accents and fill in holes with the smallest ones. Carefully lift the base sand dollars slightly and apply glue underneath to adhere them to the mirror. Continue attaching the rest of the sand dollars. If you make a mistake in positioning, you can pry off the sand dollars and start again. Let it dry to finish.
Shell Treasure Box
Create a mosaic of small pieces of shells for this delicate memento you can keep or give as a gift. Using a bristle brush, start by applying colored paint to a box, inside and out, and let it dry. Paint over the box with one coat of white paint for an especially chalky effect, then let it dry. For the lid's knob, use a thin paintbrush to apply glue to a shell and press it onto the lid before letting it dry. For the abalone mosaic, sort through chips to decide on a color palette. Working in small sections, apply the glue with a thin paintbrush, and press chips into place mosaic-style.
With this craft, your DIY seashell charms will stand the test of time. To make a pendant, choose a good-sized shell like a mussel or a string of smaller shells. We like using a pastel bead cord colors for a subtle look, and brighter hues for contrast.
Metallic Shell Candleholder Centerpieces
These candleholders serve as an instant conversation starter full of charm. In a well-ventilated area, cover your work surface with newspaper to begin. Apply two coats of spray paint to shells, and then let them dry. Then form foil into crumpled "cups" for support and nestle a shell into each one. Continue by melting candle wax over low heat in a pot before dipping a wick tab into the wax and then sticking the wick in the center of a shell. Repeat this same process with other wicks and shells, before carefully pouring the remaining melted wax into shells for the finished product.
Transform your child's beach discoveries into an adorable shell creature that they can hold onto for years to come. We chose small scallop and clam shells to make the koalas and long razor clams decorated with ring-top cowries for the tree. Use small cushions of polymer clay, which is pliable and slightly sticky, to test out various arrangements. To assemble, use a quick-drying glue and build heads and bodies separately. Before joining larger parts, use a brush to glue on smaller ones, like beads for eyes, and clay to support creatures while the glue dries.
Seashell-and Pebble-Sprayed Stationery
Decorate stationery, postcards, or a travel journal using shells, stones, and other tokens collected on a recent beach trip. Begin by covering your work surface. Then, add one teaspoon of acrylic paint to a small spray bottle, filling the bottle halfway with water and shaking to mix. For a clearer solution, add more water. Next, arrange some shells or pebbles on note cards or another paper item before spraying the paint mixture over the shells or pebbles. Let the shells dry for about 30 minutes before lifting them up.
Shell Specimen Pedestal
How can you make the most of your oceanside finds? Put the vacation memories on a pedestal for all to see. Begin by selecting shells and sea glass, and choosing wooden bases that would work best for the project. Using a paintbrush, apply two or three coats of watered-down acrylic paint to the bases, letting them dry between coats until the wood loses its yellowness but you can still see the grain. Glue any paired bases, and let them dry. Next, cut wire for the sand dollars and shells, apply epoxy to the end, and insert into the wooden base. Use a craft stick to apply epoxy to the wire and then insert the wire about two inches into the natural hole in the back of the sand dollar or into the tapered end of the shell, and let it dry. Simpler shells can be glued directly to the base.
After a day at the beach, re-create an oceanic habitat with the treasures you've collected. You can make this possible by using a nautical map as the backdrop to your marine-like décor. The special part of this deep-sea decoration is that you can add as much detail as you'd like. For an intricate design, try featuring blue waves made out of blue paper. If you're feeling even more adventurous, try your hand at adding free-floating fish to the aquatic display.
Mussel Shell Wreath
Made from a clambake's worth of mussels, this wreath is the perfect summer decoration for a front door. Master this craft by gluing shells between the wires—tucking the heel of each under the one set before it. Then attach two more courses of shells, one on each side of the first, arranging them in the opposite direction. Use monofilament to hang the wreath securely, and cover the cord with a ribbon tied in a decorative knot.
Shop Now: Craft Smart Sheer Ribbon, $1.49, michaels.com.
Seashell Soap Dish
Even when vacation's over, these pretty soap dishes will give your bathroom a seaside feel. Wash one big shell and one small shell. Then make a ring of crumpled newspaper to cushion them as you work. Attach the big shell to the small shell back to back with a dab of two-part epoxy glue. Place the shells in the ring of newspaper with the small shell facing down, so the paper supports the top shell and keeps it from slipping out of place. But be sure the epoxy doesn't touch the paper. Let the craft dry thoroughly.
Shop Now: Gorilla Epoxy Glue, $5.98, homedepot.com.
Add a summery touch to your reading room with bookends made of seashells. Start by filling a tub halfway with sand. Nestle a shell in the sand with the opening face up. In a disposable cup, mix casting plaster. Spoon the plaster into the opening of the shell until it is completely filled; let the shell dry in this position. 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 attach the velvet to the plaster-filled opening.
The shells that the ocean casts at your feet during the summertime—the ones you thoroughly enjoy collecting—make lovely remembrances of the season with candles formed inside of them. Store-bought shells also work great for this marine-inspired craft if you haven't been able to find your own. Add assorted candles to the shells of your choosing for a unique way to display candlelight in your home. Deep shells, such as scallops, clams, and quahogs, work best and burn the longest.
Customize your own mirror frame using shells found along the beach. As long as you have glue handy, this craft is a breeze to piece together. The best part? You can also paint it yourself depending on if you want to just use unfinished wood or add flair with some of your favorite colors.
When darkness falls, a string of seashells adds ambience to a patio or porch. Light up your area with this fun DIY. You can make this craft by simply adding epoxy glue to seashells and attaching them to the string light bulbs.
Seashell Salt-and-Pepper Dishes
A half shell was good enough for Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus." Can humble condiments require more? To craft this project, run four shells per set through a dishwasher, secured in the silverware caddy. For the base, turn two shells topside up, and hot glue them together at the hinge. Then glue together the other two shells and lay them face up and crosswise over the base, and glue. Now bring on the chowder.
Trade an ordinary plastic night-light for a delicate beach keepsake. To begin this craft, rinse the seashell clean or soak it in a bucket of water containing a capful of bleach until the shell just turns white. You can also use a store-bought seashell if you don't have another handy. After letting the shell dry completely, add epoxy glue to the night-light clip, and then press it onto the flat part of the shell. When the shell is dry, attach it to the socket.
Shop Now: Gorilla Epoxy Glue, $5.98, homedepot.com.
Gluing seashells onto a terra-cotta flowerpot creates an original outdoor decoration that's sure to impress. To spruce up a pot, combine one part powdered milk paint with one part water. Apply the mixture to the pot with a paintbrush and let it dry for one hour. Combine one part lime powder with two parts water; brush on over paint and let it dry for one hour. Working in a well-ventilated area, sand the pot with medium-grit sandpaper until you get the look you want. Then gather some shells that are similar in size and shape. Lastly, glue shells to the rim of the pot. You can use tweezers to help get the smaller shells to stick.
Seashell Mood Lighting
These inexpensive "lion's paw" shells create a peaceful ocean ambience. To create this craft, fill a shallow tray with sand, arrange pairs of your prettiest specimens, and place a votive candle at the center of each pair (leaving room for the flames to flicker safely). Set the tray on a low table, and enjoy a quiet drink on the patio.
Shell Wind Chimes
Any beachcomber will enjoy this project—you can even add the finished product to your porch for a reminder of your vacation even after it's long over. Start by finding two sticks that are about three inches in length. Then use cotton string of varying lengths to tie one end around a shell or piece of sea glass and the other end to one of the sticks. Use two same-size pieces of string to connect the sticks and tie a 24-inch string to the top one to hang it up.
In the summer, crisp white sheets look even more inviting edged with prints made from a few flawlessly shaped scallop shells—beachcombing for the perfect candidates is half the fun of this project. To make this DIY, add fabric paint directly to the shell with a sponge brush, but make sure you're careful, you don't want it to fill in the grooves. Move the painted shell to a clean work area and carefully place your fabric on top. Rub the cloth lightly to transfer the image, then gently lift it off. Be sure to wipe the shell clean before making the next impression. Make practice prints until you are comfortable with the technique and can line up several prints cleanly in a row. Test the fabric first, too as tightly woven cotton will pick up the most detailed images.
Shop Now: Scribbles "Shiny" 3D Fabric Paint, $2, michaels.com.
Nautilus Shell Vase
A wide-mouthed, spiral nautilus shell can double as a pearlescent vase for bedroom bouquets. To create your own, place a piece of floral adhesive on a plate (use just enough to hold the shell upright). Stick the shell to the adhesive, and then place a weight—a fishing sinker, for example—inside to help hold it in place. Next, fill the shell halfway with water and add flowers, like purple scabiosa and white phlox. For the last step, arrange pebbles around the shell; they'll add a finishing touch and help stabilize the display.
Shop Now: Ashland "Mini River" Pebbles, $7.49, michaels.com.