I love the beach and I love to collect sea shells! I think I probably have way more shells than the average bear, but I still can't resist collecting bags of them when I am at the shore. Yes, those of us that grew up in New Jersey call the beach the shore! My family had a home on the bay in Stone Harbor, NJ which is in South Jersey about 60 miles east of where I grew up, so I was lucky enough to spend summers at the "shore" and I never knew it as anything but that until I moved south.
And even though I own bags and bags of shells, I have a hard time letting them go. For the past few years I have been part of an ornament swap and I have made 6 ornaments each year and I have to say, it takes some effort to come up with a fresh and unique idea for my ornaments. Last year I decided that as difficult as it may be, I would part with some of my shells to make my ornament for the swap. Well, it didn't take me long to figure out I needed to come up with a better idea. Not because my first plan didn't work, but because they were heavy as heck and would cost a fortune to ship all over and one of my ornaments had to go across the pond! So I decided to finish them and give them as my special Christmas Eve ornament to my two daughters-in-law, and a special gift to my closest family and friends.
I started by sticking a large Popsicle stick into solid Styrofoam balls then I coated them with white glue and then covered them with glitter. I used Martha Stewart Glass Glitter. and it was a mess but after they all dried for 24 hours, they were ready for the shells and the hot glue gun.
Many of my shells came from Sanibel Island in Florida - known as one of the top four shelling beaches in the world. We lived just minutes from Sanibel for two years and I was in heaven! During the month of February when the shelling conditions are at their peak, you can find the most amazing shells! Every tide brings in something special and new! As you can see below, I had plenty to choose from! And I also decorate with them. I found this huge ironstone bowl filled with those same shells at our local SPCA Rummage sale years ago for $6.00. What shell lover could pass that up even though she already had plenty!
During the process, I rested the balls in a small Pyrex dish while I picked the shells and then used a hot glue gun to add them to the glitter balls. I can't even begin to say how many times I burned my fingers as each shell had to be glued, one by one. It was so much fun digging through the shells to find just the perfect one to fit into the puzzle! It also brought back a lot of pleasant memories of time well spent walking many beaches! As you can see, each bag of shells has something to fit into every spot from large to tiny, tiny small!
I ended up making 7 and to finish them off, I added freshwater pearls and some beautiful braided cord for hanging. Six special people got one of these and I kept one for myself. I often wonder when I gift something that means so much to me if the recipient fully appreciates the gift, but based on the reaction of those who got these, I believe they did! Now I have to try to decide what to make for this year's special ornament. The ornament exchange is no longer happening, but my friend from across the pond and I plan to do our own exchange!
To give them a beautiful finish I also sealed each ball with polyurethane to bring out the color in the shells. I think it really made a difference. What do you think? Mine hangs in my family room from one of my wrought iron lamps all year long and every time I look at it, I think of shelling on the beaches of Sanibel Island and all those wonderful ladies that got one of my ornaments last year.
A sea of shell ornaments!