Turning Clutter into Crafts: Shell Wreaths
Turn your seashell collection into wall art.
Something had to be done. Our home looked like a shrine to the shore.
My seashell collections dominated every flat surface in our townhouse. Shells were loosely organized by trip: tiny ones from the Pacific Ocean in a brandy snifter, large spirals from a remote North Carolina beach on the mantle, orange sea scallops from Spain in a woven basket.
I even owned several jars of sand. It was time for drastic measures.
After a quick trip to the Germantown Public Library, I came home armed with numerous books on crafting. I went into Michaels and purchased supplies: naked wreaths of straw, various colors of moss and lichens, a tiny hot glue gun with extra glue sticks, artificial flowers, sheer aqua ribbon and a spool of burlap that resembled a fishing net.
Today, you will find shell-themed wreaths gracing the walls of our townhouse (and the walls of several of our relatives). They are fun reminders of those previous trips and they don’t take up any counter space. Best of all, it’s a nice way to reuse and repurpose natural materials. With the exception of sphagnum peat moss – which I now use sparingly since I've learned that it might be endangered – the materials used to create shell wreaths are simple and relatively inexpensive.
Think about the color scheme in your home. Where might you hang a seashell wreath?
When I briefly sold hand-crafted wreaths locally – a satisfying but financially unsound hobby – I found that people preferred small wreaths in neutral colors to hang in the bathroom. My most popular wreaths consisted of white or light brown shells against tan-colored moss. Wreaths in vibrant colors – like the one with orange shells, purple flowers and green moss – didn’t attract buyers.
I recommend wrapping your wreath base in burlap. This will hold the straw in place and prevent it from poking through. Once the burlap has been added, work with the largest shells first. Attach them to the covered wreath base with ample amounts of hot glue. For a three-dimensional effect, glue a U-shaped floral pin to a shell and insert the pin at an angle. Next, add moss (or perhaps an eco-friendly alternative, like green-stained coconut fibers) around the shells. Be sure to cover any traces of glue or floral pins. Finally, glue smaller shells on top of the moss and add a few artificial flowers or a bow.
One of the suggestions that I eventually took to heart after skimming all of those crafting books was “the rule of three.” Arranging things in groups of three seems to give finished crafts a more balanced look. Try to keep the items proportional and the colors complementary. Giant yellow and black sunflowers, for example, might overwhelm a collection of tiny, multi-hued abalone shells.
Don’t forget to take your finished wreath to the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in August. There are several categories into which you may enter wreaths under Departments 71 to 76: Arts, Crafts, Hobbies, and Photography. The competition is often slim for handmade wreaths.
Enjoy the creative process. Revel in the satisfaction of creating something beautiful and personal out of clutter and you could walk home with a blue ribbon.
Feel free to share pictures of your shell-themed creations here at Patch. Happy crafting!