Monday, August 25, 2014

Seashell Letters

Seashell Letters

There are a couple reasons why I launched into my latest obsessive hobby this year, crafting with seashells.

One is my yearning for great signage in my library. Library signage ranges from the nonexistent to the incredibly imaginative. I wanted the incredibly imaginative in my postage-stamp sized library. Unfortunately, our library budget is also postage-stamp sized. Hmmm. Where to start.

I was browsing on Pinterest for quite a while, but I finally got lucky right here at home. On Squidoo.

Photo by TF Sherman

Tacky Florida Seashell Crafts

Growing up around Florida gift shops, I’ve seen seashell crafts that could haunt the dreams of a less sane person than myself. Category: Not What I Want.

Picture by TF Sherman

Squidoo lore

Seashell crafts were to be a theme of summer reading library programs this year. While I was googling around, I found that lensmaster CastleRoy had done a great piece of seashell crafts. On it, I found a funny and inspirational Youtube about making seashell letters. It was a revelation.

Getting Started

I put up a sign next to my library check-out desk asking for donations of seashells. Begging usually works for me at the library. Patrons will always come through with TP rolls, old Christmas cards, pop-tops and the like. This was no exception. Soon I had bags and bags of shells to work with. They weren’t the most gorgeous shells in the world, so I figured I would augment them with some purchases from my local shell shop.

I purchased ready made wooden letters from a craft store and some Alene tacky glue. I was almost ready to get started.

Great tutorial below

on how to prepare all those donated bleached out colorless seashells for an artistic endeavor

1. If your seashells really need it, bleach them in a 1 to 3 solution for half an hour and then toothbrush off any mossy bits or whatever. I only did mine if they obviously needed it.
2. Here's the BIG SECRET!!! Buy some muriatic acid from a hardware or pool store. Mix it in a 1 to 3 solution. Prepare a second bottle of plain water for rinsing. Using tongs, dip your seashell in the muriatic solution and count to 3 as in 3 seconds. Then dip the shell immediately into the water.
3. When dry, dab shell with baby oil (mineral oil). I waited until after my shells were glued in place. Some people use polyurethane.

Muriatic acid will remove the calcium build-up on the outside of the shell. Just like that water glass in your bathroom, rings of calcium deposit will build up on a shell and hide the color. I was so totally amazed at my before and afters! I didn't buy any seashells for my project at all, and was happy to find that I had samples of all local Florida shells.
I Love Shelling
How to restore color to your seashells

Color on Seashells

See the color on these shells? I’m using some very common seashells on these pieces, but because their colors are strong, they look exciting. Those generous patrons might not have been so generous if they’d known the natural beauty they were giving away!

Photo by TF Sherman

Detail

I added pearls and rhinestones from my rummage bag to my creation. The fake jewels added a feeling of “mermaid treasure box” that I was really going for. You can see the white outline of the letter underneath, but I don’t think that detracts. I would have included more oddities on them, maybe gold rings and watch faces and jewelry. Too bad I didn’t have any extra gold rings, watch faces and jewelry. I thought I’d be stretching my luck if I asked my generous patrons to drop those off too.

Ta-Dum!!!!

Ta-Dum!!!!

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