I'm happy to have Joanna Campbell Slan guest posting again today. You can find part three here.
Me, My Shells, and I:
Crafting with Seashells
By Joanna Campbell Slan
~ Part 4 ~
I have a large sea shell collection which I keep scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you've seen it. -- Steven Wright
Okay, you’ve filled a bag with shells, and you toss it into your trunk for the long drive home.
Bad idea. Very, very bad idea. At the end of the trip, you might open your trunk and discover a very stinky surprise. Whenever possible, clean the shells the same day you find them.
At Cara Mia Delgatto’s shop, The Treasure Coast, her friend Skye Blue is the absolute Queen of Shell Crafting. So here are Skye’s best tips for preparing and using seashells:
1. Make sure your shells are unoccupied. (Hold them up to your ear. If you hear a scratching sound, there’s a hermit crab inside.) Look to see if a hinged shell is open or closed. A closed shell is nature’s way of saying, “Someone is home.”
2. Rinse the sand off of the shells. It’s best to do this outdoors. I’m not sure what sand can do to a septic system, and frankly, none of us want to find out. It’s easiest to bring a large sieve to the beach with you. When you rinse the sand off your feet, either at public shower or with a hose, rinse off the shells.
3. Soak the shells thoroughly. Skye likes to leave them overnight in a mixture of powdered dishwasher detergent and hot water. She has a big plastic jar with a lid that she’s dedicated to this purpose. A couple of times, she’ll pick up the jar and swirl the soapy water to help dislodge any junk. Then she’ll rinse them a second time in a large sieve and let them dry.
4. If there’s a bad smell, Skye suggests soaking the shell in a mixture of bleach and water (one part bleach to four parts water).
5. Shine the clean, dry shells with mineral oil, baby oil, or clear nail polish. (Skip the oils if you are going to be gluing the shells.)
6. If the shell is fragile, soak a piece of cotton in white glue and stuff the cavity or the concave area with the glue-soaked cotton. (Use a chopstick or a toothpick to poke the cotton, a few small bits at a time.) This will strengthen the cavity when it dries, making the shell less likely to break.
7. Use E-6000 Glue to attach the shells to your object. Let your project sit overnight and test the attachment points for security the next day.
Skye and I both strongly suggest that you avoid buying seashells from a shop. These are harvested from living creatures. Trust me, you can find glorious seashells on the beach. Why indulge in cruelty when you can get a beautiful shell absolutely free? Remember: The bigger the shell, the older the creature, so when you buy a large shell, you’ve interrupted the breeding cycle of a poor, defenseless animal.
Skye’s philosophy is that everything looks better with a seashell on it! Skye, Cara Mia Delgatto, and I hope you’ll give this hobby a try. We think you’ll enjoy using these gifts of nature in your crafting. And, if you see any of us on the beach, be sure to wave!
About the Author: As soon as she finishes her writing chores for the day, Joanna Campbell Slan hooks the leash onto her dog, Jax, and they go for a walk on the beach. Her most recent book—All Washed Up—is set on the Treasure Coast of Florida and features Cara Mia Delgatto, an entrepreneur who recycles, upcycles, and repurposes décor items with a coastal theme. You can see a few of Joanna’s favorite things at www.Pinterest.com/joannaslan or contact her at JCSlan@JoannaSlan.com You can read two of Joanna’s books free here: http://booklaunch.io/joannaslan/teardownanddie and http://booklaunch.io/joannaslan/inkreddead