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Seashell Decoupage: Fun After the Sun!

Posted by E.G.D. on May 3, 2012

Decoupage Seashells by E.G.D. (Left: Sea in the Shell, Right: Pink Elephant Parade)

I recently went to Galveston Island, Texas with my parents and my sister’s family, and I gathered a good many seashells.  My niece and nephew actually gathered about a gallon of shells (they’re at a not-very-discriminating age and picked up everything they could find).  We’ve got shells all over the place around here, and many of them are still sitting around in plastic bags that are half full of wet sand.

Now, I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.   I’m sure you’ve even been in my shoes a time or two.  I found myself asking the eternal question of the shell collector with too many of the same kind and color of shell: “what am I going to do with all of these?”

The answer did not immediately present itself, but I can be a pretty resourceful sort of person, and I teach after-school art classes to preschool and elementary school students.  Inspiration struck two weeks ago when I was teaching a unit on decoupage (the art of applying 2 dimensional art to a 3 dimensional form and then varnishing it.  The 2D art is almost always paper cutouts) to a class of fifth graders.  I asked them to please bring their own items for the project, but I also assured them that I would bring some items for those who couldn’t find anything at home.  The day before I started the lesson, I scrounged around in my things, and I came up with plastic and cardboard jewelry boxes, a plastic Easter egg, and a great big handful of seashells!  The seashells were a bit of an afterthought, and I didn’t really expect many people to use them because I thought the students would be bringing their own items, but when I arrived on the day we started the project, not one single student had brought one single thing.   It was a very, very good thing I came extra-prepared, and the students did some incredible work.  I would venture to say that my favorite pieces were the decoupage seashells.

Decoupage Shell Charm by Leah, 5th Grade Artist Extraordinaire

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for!  Here are the very simple instructions for how to make these beauties:  First, assemble cutouts for your decoupage collage.  For the examples shown above, I cut out teeny-tiny bits of photographs out of travel magazines.  The students were kind enough to help me find all sorts of fun pink things for the one on the right, and for the one on the left, I simply rifled through the pages cutting a tiny bit out of every body-of-water image I could find.

The inside of Leah’s Decoupage Shell Charm

If you look at the examples on the sides, you can see the incredible, bursting-with-personality piece that one of the students made with a 1” long shell that had a convenient hole in it.  It’s a charm!  Anyhow, on to the next instruction: water down some white glue, using about two parts glue to one part water.  When you’re ready to apply your magazine bits to your (clean and dry) shell, use a paint brush to brush the glue onto the shell (important note:this does not work nearly as well if you brush the glue onto the paper!).  Then apply the picture bits, carefully smoothing them down with your fingers or your paintbrush.  Finally, brush on one more layer of glue to seal everything and make it shiny.  If you want this project to be permanent, you could use varnish instead of glue, but I do not recommend using anything quick-drying and permanent if you are doing this project with kids under the age of 8 or 9.

There you have it!  Inspiration struck, opportunity knocked, and I now know one more fun thing to do with those extra seashells in my collection. Three cheers for fun, in or out of the sun! -E.G.D.

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3 Responses to “Seashell Decoupage: Fun After the Sun!”

  1. This is great! 🙂

  2. Jody said

    The beautiful blue decoupage seashell became my Mother’s Day gift! It’s really something to see. Thank you, Elisa. How very thoughtful! ~Love

  3. […] posted here: Seashell Decoupage: Fun After the Sun! « Beach Treasures and … This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged age, discriminating, family, gathered, […]

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