I get so happy every time Spring Break rolls around. I’m graduating in May so this was my last year to have that glorious week away from campus and feel reinvigorated by sunshine after spending weeks under fluorescent lighting in the library. I admit, that’s a little dramatic and I really don’t spend that much time in the library.
Regardless, I spent last week in Galveston collecting seashells, sipping drinks with cheesy tropical names and freezing my limbs off in the cold March water. I came back with an angry sunburn, a sack full of shells and an itching to make something.
I posted yesterday about using atypical materials, with things found in nature being one of them. The thing about natural items is that they sometimes smell or contain still-living organisms. Especially seashells. This was my first time crafting with shells, so there might be better ways of cleaning them. This method worked just fine for me:
- Saucepan or stockpot, depending on amount of shells
- Spoon or utensil to stir (don’t use anything wooden, as you will definitely want to put this in a dishwasher)
- Fine mesh strainer
- Bleach (I used a bleach-based kitchen cleaner)
- Clear nail polish (colored if desired)
Sanitize your shells:
- Put the shells in the saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain in a strainer. This might smell really, really bad depending on where you collected the shells.
- Move them to a bowl and fill with equal parts water and bleach. Leave overnight.
- Pour back through the strainer. Scrub the shells to remove the bleach. I used a little dish soap to help with the smell, and scrubbed over a plastic bag to catch any broken pieces.
4. If there are still barnacles or thin layers on your shells, you’re going to want to get rid of them. I used a pair of jewelry pliers to pick them off (make sure to sanitize after).
5. Lay out to dry, then paint with clear nail polish. My shells lost a lot of color in the washing process, so I painted some with colored nail polish before adding a clear topcoat.
6. Some might contain natural holes (convenient!). For those that don’t, you will probably need a drill. I used a hammer and small nail, but I would not recommend this if you’re attached to any of the shells (a few broke).
And here’s what I made…