I came home from my visit to Sanibel, Florida with a bag full of shells and lots of DIY ideas. If you didn’t see my post on Top 6 Sea Shell Projects, that is where I brainstormed ideas of what to make with all my sandy goodies. After changing my mind countless times, I decided on a wreath. I envision it perfectly hanging on our half bath door off of the kitchen. That little room is just the cutest with pebble stone flooring and little hand painted fishies in a tile strip along the walls.
While going through all the shells I collected, I started to name them. The Pretty in Pink Tiny One, Stone Grey Solid Shell, Cute Little Nugget, and so on. I wondered what other shells were in Sanibel that I could have used to make other projects. My curiosity led to finding I Love Seashelling and her Seashell Identification Library. Turns out The Pretty in Pink Tiny One is a Calico Scallop, and the Cute Little Nugget is a Kitten’s Paw.
My shell collection is heavy on the white Cut Ribbed Ark shells, with a little bit of everything else I could find. I think it adds a nice white base, with a little bit of color and variation to the mix. Anyways, on to the tutorial:
- Big Bucket
- Bleach (and water)
- Foam wreath
- Scrap fabric strips
- Handful of pins
- Hot glue gun
- Lots of patience
- Clean your shells
- Prep your foam wreath
- Glue the shells to the wreath
First, you will need to clean your shells. Even though they may look fine to you, I’ve been warned that if you don’t soak them with a little bleach, they will start to give off a stench in a couple weeks. So let’s take care of that now before it’s too late. Grab a big bucket and add water and a little bit of bleach. For a gallon of water, I added one cap of bleach. Dump in all your shells, swirl them around, and let ’em soak for 1-2 hours.
After they have soaked, lay out a drying rack or a bunch of towels to dry out the shells. I took them out one by one and rinsed them under the faucet before laying them out to dry. This will remove any bleach that got into the shells so they don’t degrade over time.
While the shells are drying, you can move on to prepping your foam wreath. I bought a cheap green foam wreath at a big box store. The next step is to cut the wreath in half, if you didn’t already by a half-wreath. Since shells are really heavy, the goal here is to reduce the amount of surface area to cover so it won’t be too heavy to safely hang. By cutting it in half, you are also creating a nice flat surface so the wreath will hang well against a wall.
You can use an exacto knife, a kitchen knife, or however you feel most comfortable slicing it in half. I started with the exacto knife and finished with a sharp kitchen knife to get all the way through.
Once the wreath is cut in half, it’s time to wrap it in scrap fabric. Since we are going to only be decorating the front half of the wreath, this gives the back of it a clean and intentional look. If you are using white shells like I am, I recommend using white fabric. The shells won’t cover every little bit so pieces of this fabric will also be poking through on the front.
Start by pinning the end of the fabric to the back of the wreath, then wrap it all the way around. Pin the last piece down just like the first. Now you have a fully wrapped, flat-back wreath, ready for shells.
Once the shells are completely dry, I laid them out around the wreath a bit to make sure I had enough and I liked the color balance. Once you figure out where things are going to go, just set them outside a bit so you can easily grab them in the right spots. My plan was to use a colored/unique shell one every three basic white “Cut Ribbed Ark” shells.
Now let’s glue! With your hot glue gun warmed up, place glue around the base of the shell, then place it on the wreath. Make sure that everywhere the shell comes in contact with the wreath or another shells, there is glue there to support it. This will help keep your wreath in tact for years to come.
Every once in a while, don’t forget to step back and take a look at where you are. You can see if you are starting to space the pieces differently, or if you are using too much of a certain shell in one location. Step back, evaluate, and continue.
Here is my completed wreath! I am so happy with how it turned out. It probably weighs about two pounds or so.