Collecting shells (and rocks and sea glass and driftwood…) is one of my favorite things to do at the beach. Bonus: you can search for shells all year round, not just in the Summer. But what do you do with those shells once you get them home? Here’s an easy shell keepsake project for your most precious beach treasures!
Gather Your Materials
- Blank canvas
- Thrifted books
- Paint: acrylic and watercolor (optional)
- Decorative label
- E6000 glue
- Gel medium
- Mod Podge
- Small scissors
- Paper cutter
See this post for some of my favorite crafting tools: Top 10 Tools For Crafting
How To Make A Shell Keepsake Display
First, make sure that your shell(s) will fit on the canvas you’ve selected. For this project, I used three small shells I collected on a recent trip to Marblehead, MA and a 2″x 4″ canvas. Next, tear a page from a thrifted book. With a somewhat watery brush, paint a coat of acrylic paint over the book page text. I prefer a slightly transparent look.
Cut a strip of the painted book page to size so that it will cover the front and two sides of the canvas. Coat the back of the book page with gel medium and attach to the canvas. Trim as needed. Paint the remaining edges of the canvas and set aside to dry.
Next, you’ll create the label for the display. I like to spell out the name of the place I collected the shells from but you could choose something else (a snippet of a poem, a word(s) that reminds you of the day/place where you collected the shell).
Using small scissors, cut out the letters you need to spell out the word for your label. Carefully glue each letter to the label using gel medium. A pair of tweezers definitely comes in handy for this part! Set aside to dry.
First decide the placement of the shells on the canvas. Once you’re happy with the arrangement, attach the shells to the canvas using a small amount of E6000 applied to the back of each shell. Be careful not to use too much glue as it spreads when you press the shell onto the canvas. Leave the canvas flat while the E6000 dries.
Next, attach the label to the canvas using gel medium. Make sure the label lays flat, add more gel medium if needed.
Add sealer to your shell keepsake project. Once all the glue is dry, go over the entire canvas (including the shells if you like) with a coat of matte or satin Mod Podge. Be sure to cover all of the edges of the canvas as well. Finally, I like to write the date I found the shells on the back of the canvas using a black Sharpie.
And that’s it! Now you have a unique handmade shell keepsake to display in your home and remind you of beach days gone by.
Happy Collecting and Creating!
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