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Easy Decorations to Make with Beach Sand and Shells

Updated on February 25, 2015
North Topsail Beach, NC
North Topsail Beach, NC | Source

You're home from the beach. You have unpacked and finally gotten all the laundry done! Now - what are you going to do with all that sand and the sea shells you fell in love with and brought back home?? Each shell you touch reminds you of that moment when it was found, the time spent walking on the beach, the amazing sights and sounds of the crashing waves swirling around your feet. No way are you going to pitch them in the trash! Well, you're in luck! Here are some easy decorations to make with beach sand and shells. They take only minutes and will bring you years of fond memories.

sand and shell candle cup
sand and shell candle cup | Source

Sand Candle Containers

First things first. Wash all the shells in warm soapy water. No one wants to be in a room that smells from rancid shells. Same thing holds for the sand. Sand can begin to smell musky after time if wet. Spread the sand out onto sheets of newspaper to dry. The newspaper is important because it will be easy to fold when it is time to pour the dry sand into containers. If there are bits of wood or seaweed in the sand, then this is a good time to remove it as well. Some bits of wood can be decorative, but too many will give your decoration a junky look.

Your next step is selecting a container. Pick one that is appropriate for the size of shells you have collected. It can be a recycled candle jar, a metal bucket, or any container you like. A glass jar or bowl allows for placing shells on the sides for greater visability. It is best to place shells first as best as possible, filling the container with sand after. I have used a candle in many of the containers and have found placing a small amount of sand in the bottom of the container helps both the candle and shells remain in place while filling with sand. Sand can best be added by gently pouring it in with a small cup. This gives you control over the shell and candle placement until the container is filled. Sometimes the shells have a mind of their own...not a problem. Simply remove the shells and candle and pour the sand into a large bowl and start over. You will get the knack of it quickly and then look container is safe!!

Sand  Dollar
Sand Dollar | Source
Starfish and sand wall plaque
Starfish and sand wall plaque | Source
Sand and Shells grouping
Sand and Shells grouping | Source

Sand and Shell Wall Hangings

These are great wall accents for bedroom, bath or even a seaside cottage room! They are simple to make and take only minutes to make once you have all your supplies! Be sure to follow the steps above to clean the shells and dry out the sand before you begin!

You will need to purchase a few simple supplies:

Clear plastic shadow box frame(s) any size, scrapbooking paper or something for background, jute, low temp glue gun and glue sticks. If you do not already have sand and shells, these can be purchased at most craft supply stores as well.

Just a note on what to look for when you purchase clear plastic shadow box frames. Some of these have backs that will NOT hold sand, so be prepared to discard the backing. I won't tell you how I know that tidbit of information, but let's just say that my experience will serve you well! You will also need something for a backing. I chose scrapbooking paper that had a water look to it, but you can also use a recycled calendar scene, fish tank background or an enlarged photo from your trip!

Once you have your supplies gathered, you are ready to begin. Begin by wrapping the jute around the outer edge of the frame two or three times. The number of wraps depends on the width of your frame and size of your jute. Add 8-10 inches to the length to allow for a hanging loop. Begin by folding the jute in half, twist the midpoint and put a dot of glue at the twist. This makes your hanging loop. Lay the frame with the back down on a flat surface and place the loop just above like it would hang when on the wall. Laying the frame on its back aligns the loop with the wall just as when it is hanging. Place a line of glue along edges of frame and press jute along the edges before glue cools working both sides equally to maintain uniformity. Continue until your outer wrap is complete, then trim up the ends. Be sure to glue the ends tightly into place so they do not fray.

Next, begin gluing your background to the back edge only on the bottom of your frame and about 1/3 of the way up each side. Be sure to make a complete seal in order to keep your sand in place. Keeping the top portion of the backing off will allow you to place items inside. Once your seal is cool stand frame up on bottom edge. This will help you with shell placement. Place enough sand to fill between 1/4 to 1/3 the height of your frame. This will vary on the size of your frame. Carefully place your shells with the smallest shells placed in the front. Press them gently down into the sand enough to stand, but as little as possible to enable the best view. Add shells working toward the back of the frame. Be VERY careful as the slightest movement can cause a shift in the sand and displace the entire grouping. Remember however, it IS only sand and can be quickly redone! Once you have your placement to your liking, gently run a thread of glue on the back edges of the frame, attaching the background to the frame completely. It is important to complete the seal as any moisture can cause the sand to clump and even mildew. That is not a good thing!

One note: moving the wall hanging from your work area to the wall can be tricky! Be very careful to keep them upright without any quick movements. Remember, sands shift! Just be careful. We have even moved these hangings from one house to another, but they must remain upright with minimal movement to make it. You can however, rework them easily, even change out the shells and backgrounds.

You are done!! Now, leave a comment and share with us your results and ideas!

Photo and Text Copyright 2011 Deborah M. Carey

edited 2013

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    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      8 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA


      I'm glad you liked them! The driftwood would be an awesome item to work with too! Thanks for the positive feedback too!

    • Fennelseed profile image

      Annie Fenn 

      8 years ago from Australia

      I love these shadow boxes full of 'the beach'. I cannot come away from the beach without my pockets full of treasures, not to mention my partner loaded up with the driftwood I just couldn't leave behind. I now have a great new idea for displaying these goodies. Thank you so much for this great hub. Voted up and useful and awesome too.

    • prektjr.dc profile imageAUTHOR

      Debbie Carey 

      8 years ago from Riverton, KS, USA

      Thanks! It really is a great reminder of wonderful times, especially since the nearest beach is 10 hours from here! Hope you get a chance to go soon!

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Great ideas. I love the idea of capturing your memories in a shadow box. Now to get to the beach!


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