How to Make: Seashell Crafts Decorative Plaques #2
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:
Finished Seashell Cross on Plaque
Virgin Photo Frame
Ready made plaques and crafting supplies at Amazon
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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Next glue in place the 6 long sea snail shells. Glue 2 shells above the crossing arm and 4 below that arm.
- Add 4 pearls into the corners formed by the arms. Place them between the snail shells and the cross.
- 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.
- 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.
- Now add the remaining 4 sea snail shells in-between the Cardita seashells.
- 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.