12 Best Things To Do With a Shell Collection

The beach tends to bring out our inner child, reminding us of simpler times when you could build sandcastles, sling mud, and lie in the sun without a care in the world. And most of us automatically pick up seashells to remind us of the beach when we return home. However, shells tend to gather dust in the corner of our homes, so why not put them to some practical use?

The best things to do with a seashell collection include making a garland, using shells for frames, making ornaments out of them, and using them to decorate your home. In fact, sea shells can be used in various ways, and you’re only limited by your imagination.

While seashells are often worth collecting for no particular reason, you can also use them to create art and accentuate certain areas in your home. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best and most imaginative things to do with your shell collection.

1. Make a Seashell Garland With Your Shell Collection

While it may sound a bit complicated, seashell garlands are relatively easy to make and add to your home decor. For example, you can hang one of these garlands from your curtain rod alongside the curtain to accentuate the look and bring a little of the seaside into your home.

To make these garlands, you can use shells of any size. However, it’s best to use medium or large shells, so the effect is more prominent. Using shells of different sizes is also a good idea, provided you can string them together in a pleasing manner.

To get started, gather the shells you will use and drill a hole in each through which you can pass the string. To make these holes, you can use one of two tools:

  • A drill bit    
  • A piece of stone

A drill bit can be tricky if the shell is fragile, as it may start to crack with the pressure. However, it’s quick, and you can create precise holes when working with a hard shell. So if you’re using a thick shell, ensure you’re using a drill for best results.

Use the drill bit to open up a tiny hole and widen the hole by using a thicker drill bit or another cylindrical object, like a pen refill. 

If you don’t have a drill bit or are scared of breaking the shell, you can use the stone method. Get a small stone or pebble, and scrape away at a specific spot on the shell’s surface, so it begins to wear away. 

After the surface is paper-thin, you can gently puncture a hole with a pin or sharp object before pulling a string through it.

Once you’ve made a hole in each shell, line them up next to each other at the exact distance you want for your garland. Now, pass a string through each hole, tying a knot after it passes through each shell to ensure they don’t slip down when you hang the garland.

2. A Shell Candle Can Complement Your Shell Collection

Shell candles are super easy to make and look much better than regular ones. For this item, you’ll need a DIY candle wax kit if you want specific scents and a few wicks that you can buy separately at most party stores.

You can always melt and remake old candles if you don’t have a DIY candle kit.

Small shells won’t work with this idea, as there must be enough space to hold the wax. As such, you want to use shells that are large but also have enough of a hollow space in them. Flat shells also won’t work here, so you need to be specific about the shells you use.

Once you have your shell, stick a candle wick in it using super glue or another strong adhesive. The adhesive shouldn’t be corrosive, so it doesn’t eat away at the shell.

Now, melt the candle wax in your DIY kit by placing it in a microwavable vessel, pour the liquid into your shell and allow it to cool. And voila! You have a candle. 

If you’re using old candles, consider double boiling them so the wax melts and can be easily poured into the shell. To perform a double boil, pour water into a vessel and begin boiling it. Once the water is boiling, place your old candles in a smaller vessel and place this vessel inside the larger vessel in the boiling water.

Now the wax will start to melt at a steady rate, ensuring all of it is properly melted before you pour it into the shell.

3. Photo Frames Are Great With Shells

Making seashell frames can be fun and allows plenty of room for creativity. You can use shells of different shapes and sizes around the frame and decorate one corner while leaving the rest of the frame empty. 

Fortunately, there’s plenty of room to work your imagination here, and you can use shells of different colors to add to the effect.

Think about how you’re arranging the shells, as the proper arrangement can help accentuate the frame. You’ll also want to avoid overcrowding the frame on one side or all around, or the picture may be overshadowed by the frame. 

Aside from photo frames, you can also create a seashell frame for your mirror or anything else you can think of.

4. Make Aquarium Decor With Your Shells

What better way to give your aquarium an elevated look than by adding a seashell to it? Aside from bringing the beach vibes home, a shell fits right in there with the rest of the environment. And you can choose the size of your shell depending on the aquarium and the type of fish you have.

However, when placing these shells inside the aquarium, they should be entirely disinfected. In fact, when you’re using sea shells in any of your home decor ideas, ensure the shell is properly cleaned.

It’s normal for bacteria, algae, and other microbes to latch onto the shells when you remove them from the beach. These microorganisms can interfere with your aquarium’s environment as they are foreign bodies and may even harm your fish in the long run.

Aside from this danger, sea shells start to emit a foul odor when exposed to open air for too long unless they have been thoroughly cleaned before. 

Fortunately, there’s a simple process to clean them.

  1. Submerge the sea shells in a mixture of bleach and water and allow them to soak for a few hours. Don’t put too much bleach in the water, as it could ruin the colors.
  2. Once the shells have soaked for a few hours, remove them and wash the bleach mixture off using running water.
  3. Use a toothbrush to scrub any gunk left behind on the shell.
  4. Once the shells are clean, rub some mineral oil on the surface, so the colors begin to pop again.

Once the shell is dry, you can safely place them in your aquarium.

5. Use Your Shell Collection To Create Lamps and Nightlights

Sea shells make for great lampshades, especially when you find one that can adequately cover the light, allowing only certain parts of it to shine through. For this particular project, using flat shells, like sand dollars, is highly effective. 

These large, flat shells can adequately cover the brightest part of the light, allowing it to shine through from the sides. Of course, you’ll want to use seashells for dull lighting or nightlights, as they will block most of the light. 

However, they make ideal nightlights and add a calming effect tony room.

To make this happen, remove the lampshade currently being used in your room and stick the shell using super glue in front of the light. This placement will ensure the light is dispersed adequately without making it too dim.

6. Bouquets Of Seashells Might Work Well In Your Home

A seashell bouquet may not sound like a conventional idea, but then again, what’s conventional about using seashells as home decor? This is easy to make but takes some patience and attention to detail. 

But if you get it right, you can add it as a centerpiece on your table or have a relative use it at their wedding. 

You’ll want to use a variety of seashells to create that bouquet-like effect. You want to use at least four or five different seashells but ensure that you have multiple pieces of each type of shell. That way, your bouquet will really pop but also stay coherent and pleasing to the eye.

Using the same shell throughout will make it boring, and too many different shells can get chaotic and bizarre. Four or five different shells are the ideal mix, but you can use less if you’re creating a more petite bouquet. 

For this project, you will need the following:

  • Seashells
  • Glue
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Styrofoam ball

Here’s how you go about creating the bouquet:

  1. Start by gluing one end of the bamboo skewers to the base of a sea shell. 
  2. If you’re using a flat shell, cover the hollow part of the shell with another flat shell using glue. By doing this, you ensure the bamboo skewer stays hidden in the bouquet.
  3. If you’re using a conch-shaped shell, pour glue into the hollow area of the shell and insert the skewers before sealing the aperture with more glue.  
  4. Use the glue liberally, so the shells stay secured in the bouquet.
  5. Once you have enough shells glued onto the skewers, start pushing the other end of the bamboo skewers into the styrofoam ball. 
  6. Ensure you push these skewers in at different locations, so the different shells are equally distributed.
  7. You can now place the styrofoam ball in a vase where the ball will be appropriately hidden.
  8. Conversely, you can take a tight bundle of bamboo skewers and push it into the bottom of the ball to use as a handle for the bouquet. 
  9. Now all you have to do is cover the skewers and the ball appropriately so they stay out of view and give the bouquet an aesthetic look.

You can wrap the base in colored gauze or use a scarf or sheet for a pronounced effect.

7. Use Your Shells To Make Decorative Pots

Another great way to create art with shells is by using them to decorate your flower and plant pots. And the best part is you can do this using only glue. 

Be sure you clean the shells first to avoid that horrible smell.

Again, you can get creative and arrange the shells in any pattern you’d like. A simple idea would be to create a ring of sea shells around the pot’s rim, which is pretty easy to achieve.

Avoid overcrowding the pot, as this can be uncomfortable for the eyes. The fewer shells, the better.

8. Shadowboxes Are Great For Your Shell Collection

Converting some of your shell collection into a shadow box is also a great use of the sea shells you have collected over the years. It creates a kind of depth for viewers, so you can display this arrangement on your walls for all to see.

You’ll need plenty of sea shells to create a shadow box, and here’s where variety is the key to accentuating the look. You’ll also need a sturdy box with a glass covering to view the shells. Arrange these shells according to your preferred patterns before sticking them to the box’s surface. Now cover the top with a lid, and you’re good to go. 

9. Create Unique Jewelry With Your Shells

If you’re more of a crafty person than most people reading this, then consider using your shells to create unique jewelry. 

For starters, you can make a shell necklace using two or three shells as the primary focus. You’ll have to drill holes in the shell the same way you would while making the garland. However, here you want to use a more substantial thread to ensure the necklace doesn’t snap. 

You can use a thumbtack instead of a drill here to puncture a hole in the shell without breaking it. 

You can also make seashell earrings using the right tools. Just ensure you choose smaller shells that aren’t too thick to achieve the right effect. And, if you’re creative, you can make a bracelet out of sea shells with the right kind of wire and set up.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Gently fold one end at the tip of a metal wire.
  2. Pass a bead through the wire and ensure it reaches the end of the wire, where the fold will stop it from falling off.
  3. Pass this metal wire through the hole in the shell. The bead will ensure that the shell doesn’t slip off the wire.
  4. Place an empty chain bracelet on the table and line up the shells depending on how you want them to be arranged on the bracelet.
  5. Twist this wire into the gaps in the chain bracelet to secure them.

Here’s a YouTube video to help you understand how to craft your own shell bracelet:

With a bit of creativity and the proper arrangements, you can create compelling and original pieces of jewelry.

10. Use Your Shells For Christmas Decorations

Sea shells can also be used to create beautiful Christmas decorations that you can hang on your tree or place around the house. 

You can make a wreath using shells the same way you would create a photo frame by sticking the shells on the frame, or you can make Christmas ornaments by adding ribbons, beads, and other Christmasy colors and knickknacks to a sea shell. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Adding seashells to your Christmas decor can create a host of new designs that you won’t be able to achieve with traditional Christmas decor.

11. Shells Can Accentuate Your Yard Ornaments

Consider using seashells to accentuate the look when you’re hanging dreamcatchers or windchimes in your yard. In fact, you can even create an entire seashell-themed dreamcatcher if you have the patience.

Be sure to set up the sea shells in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, as uniform shapes and colors work best for artwork like this. However, you don’t have to make a dreamcatcher or windchime to use your seashells as ornaments.

Instead, simply glue your seashells onto an ornamental background and hand this piece where it’s most suitable. Additionally, you can even decorate your backyard birdhouse using seashells to create a cute yet functional design.

12. Seashell Lanterns Can Be a Great Use For Your Shells

While this may seem like a bit much, an adequately created seashell lantern can be absolutely stunning. You’ll need to be quite careful with this one, though, considering it will hang from the ceiling. The shells should be correctly secured, so they don’t drop off the lantern at random intervals.

It’s best to use the same or similar shells for this project, so your lantern looks unique yet remains classy like other regular lanterns.

So as you can see, there are tons of creative and clever things to do with your shell collections, but with some, it’s best to let them go. This is because it’s illegal to collect some shells, and having them in your collection can get you into trouble. Check out my article on this topic for more information: Is Shell Collecting Illegal? What You Need to Know

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of DiscoveryPit.com, a website dedicated to tips on finding and collecting precious items. Inspired by reading countless adventurer reports from the oldtimers, Alex is passionate about discovering hidden treasures and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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