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How to Make: Seashell Crafts Decorative Plaques #2

Updated on June 8, 2015

Seashell Crafts Introduction


In this how to article I will explain how I made a decorative wood plaque with seashells and sand that can be hung from any wall. This is a simple design in the shape of a cross with clam seashells making up the cross and a variety of other seashells decorating the frame. Near the cross are auger type seashells which simulate tears.

The cross has morphed from a symbol of torture and prosecution into a symbol of hope and salvation. In our age, the cross is venerated by many religious organizations as a symbol of the possibility for eternal life. The use of the cross in art is ancient. Elaborate crosses have been fashioned for hundreds of years to be displayed on walls or worn as jewelry.

This is a relatively easy project, once some basic preparations are taken care of, and is suitable as a seashell craft for kids with a bit of adult supervision and help.

There are four basic divisions for this How To article:

  1. Materials
  2. Preparations
  3. Assembly
  4. Finishing


Finished Seashell Cross on Plaque

Completed Seashell Craft Decorative Plaque Cross
Completed Seashell Craft Decorative Plaque Cross | Source

Materials



Virgin Photo Frame

Photo Frame as bought.
Photo Frame as bought. | Source

Ready made plaques and crafting supplies at Amazon

Preparations


The Wood Photo Frame

The wood photo frame’s original intent was to hold a 4 x 6 photograph not to make a decorative plaque. This is a relatively inexpensive photo frame so there is no protective glass, just a slot at the top through which a photo, possibly with backing, can be inserted into the frame. Decorating the frame to improve the looks is up to the crafter. We will be using the frame to fashion a wall plaque decorated with seashells and faux pearls.

Take a look at the frame you have and remove any stickers from the front or photo side. I take them off the back also but you don’t have to. Clean off any sticky stuff left behind by the stickers. Use medium sandpaper to smooth out any rough spots then lightly sand the wood with fine sandpaper to open up the wood pores.

The twine hanger was a bit long for my taste it was close to 12 inches long. I unraveled one side and pulled the twine completely out of the frame. I shortened it so that about 7 inches were left.

I put the twine back in from the back side and tied a knot on the front side of the frame, then snugged the knots back against the holes. The knots have to be big enough so as not to slip back through the holes. You may, or may not, need to do a double knot.

To seal off the large crack where the photo normally sits apply a bead of glue around the inside edges of the frame. If needed, apply a second bead after the first dries to assure that the space is blocked off.

At this time you should also add some glue to the two knots of the twine hanger. This will keep the knots from unraveling and glue them to the front of the wood so they don’t move around.

The seashells

The seashells should be around the ½ inch size for the main part of the cross with slightly larger ones for the ends of the arms. The ones in the photo are clam seashells that have been smoothed by the ocean before being dumped on the local beach. They are a common seashell on the beach near my home. Their color ranges from white to dark brown. There are 4 larger ones and 8 smaller ones in this design.

The clam seashells on the frame with the ridges are called Carditas. Carditas are just another is a type of clam whose seashells are easily found on the Southeast Florida beaches. They also come in a variety of sizes and colors. There are 6 of them.

At the top and bottom are slipper seashells. If you were to turn them over they would look like something could slip into them. There are four of slippers on the frame.

The final seashells are from some type of sea snail. I’m not sure where I got them from. Perhaps I picked them up from a seashell store or from a beach gift shop. There are around the cross and 4 on the frame. You can use any thin seashell or even some round ones.

The other things

The sand is regular beach sand which has been washed and sterilized. No beach sand handy? Try some brown craft sand. A small bag will last for quite a few cross plaques.

There are also 4 small pearls used on this design. Pearls and seashells just go together. Of course, these aren’t real pearls but instead they are craft pearls – fakes (or faux) normally used in beading.


Assemble the Seashell Craft Design


  1. Apply white glue to the front surface of the wood both on the frame and on the inside. Use a paint brush to spread it around. Also apply glue to the twine knots. While the glue is still wet sprinkle sand over it making sure to cover all the glue. Allow the glue/sand mix to dry.
  2. Once dry, remove the loose sand by turning the plaque over a sheet of paper. You can then easily collect the loose sand for use on future projects.
  3. Paint the sand on the wood with a clear polyurethane paint. I like to use a gloss or high gloss finish. This adds sparkle to the sand besides protecting it from the environment.
  4. Before you glue the cross design over the painted and dry sand, take the seashells you plan to use and place them inside the frame. Make sure they all fit nicely or adjust the size of the seashells to find the ones that do fit nicely. Use the photo as your guide for placing the seashells.
  5. Now that they all fit, start at the top and glue the seashells onto the sand. Do the vertical arm first then the horizontal arm.
  6. Next glue in place the 6 long sea snail shells. Glue 2 shells above the crossing arm and 4 below that arm.
  7. Add 4 pearls into the corners formed by the arms. Place them between the snail shells and the cross.
  8. Pick a corner of the frame and glue down a Cardita at an angle in the corner. Glue the other 3 corner Cardita seashells into place. The final 2 Cardita seashells go in the middle of the vertical sides.
  9. Place 2 of the slipper seashells at the top and 2 at the bottom of the frame. The points on the seashells should point toward the cross.
  10. Now add the remaining 4 sea snail shells in-between the Cardita seashells.
  11. Set aside to let the glue dry.


Finish the Seashell Crafts Design


After the glue has dried, paint the seashells with polyurethane. DO NOT paint the pearls. The polyurethane will help protect the seashells and bring out hidden colors.

Hang the cross from a wall and enjoy. Make another one for a friend or family member. These seashell crafts decorative plaques are perfect for gifts.

Here's a variation on this theme. Once you have the basic cross design in place use your imagination for decorative elements.



A Variation to Consider

A Different Seashell Craft Decorative Plaque
A Different Seashell Craft Decorative Plaque | Source

What Do You Think of this Article and Craft? Leave your thoughts here.

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    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Angelo,

      Another great how to with seashells, loved it. I love how you use real sand too i am all for reusing and recycling especially from nature, being able to bring some outdoors indoors. Great job, up, useful & interesting. Shared on!

    • Angelo52 profile image
      Author

      Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Thank you ignugent17. Seashells do come in handy for handmade crafts whether to make decorative plaques or other items.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      Very useful! Thanks for sharing your ideas. This is really very creative.

      :-)

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      Lovely! I'm going to a beach in Thailand next month. Maybe I'll look for some cute seashells.

    • Angelo52 profile image
      Author

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanks Rajan, Fiddleman, and Peggy. Glad you liked the seashell craft cross. If you try it out come back and let me know how it worked out for you.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I really enjoyed what you did with the seashells and sand. Very creative and perfect for gift giving! Voted useful and interesting and sharing.

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 5 years ago

      My grandsons just returned from their vacation, got to ask them if they borught any sea shells back. Great ideas.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Very interesting craft idea. I think the tip to use a larger shell at the end of the arms of the cross is great. It gives an impressive look to the cross. Enjoyed reading. The final look is very impressive. Up/useful/interesting and shared.

    • Angelo52 profile image
      Author

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      No selling - commercializing would require I make more than I have time for. Just making and some times putting up articles about them. Mostly give away as gifts to family. Perhaps when I retire.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      very cool crafts! are you selling these beautiful work? and you've been doing this for almost 10 years?? How amazing!

    • Angelo52 profile image
      Author

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Thanks. I've been designing seashell crafts in this manner for a bit over 10 years. Most end up being gifts with a few still hanging around here.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      How awesome! I have these wood plaques in my craft box. Now I know what I can do with them. I love how you covered them with sand. It is nice to meet another seashell lover!

    • Angelo52 profile image
      Author

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Crafts with seashells mixed with some inexpensive photo frames can make some great decorative plaques, rebeccamealey. Thanks for checking out the article.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love shell art, and thanks for the new ideas! Very cool!