She Preserves Seashells by the Sea Shore
Who hasn’t been able to resist picking up the prettiest shells or beach glass from the beach? It’s fun to take your shell collection and make a vignette on a glass or a mirror. After arranging the design you can set it in resin to preserve and display those beauties for years of joy. What you put your shells on depends on the size of them. Tiny shells look great on a 5’ x 7” or 8” x 10” picture frame or mirror. Larger shells are perfect for putting on an old window. One of my favorite places to shell collect is in Longboat Key, FL. Where’s yours?
Here are the steps on how to do it.
The materials you will need are:
- One picture frame, framed mirror, piece of flat wood, or small old wooden window
- Shells/pebbles/beach glass
- Crushed Glass – clear/green/blue/white (available at a craft store like Michaels or online)
- Optional: small beach grass plumbs
- Glitter – blue or green, silver
- Face mask
- Dropcloth or cardboard
- Worktable to put the piece on – needs to be nice and level
- If using an old picture frame or piece of wood
-Chalk paint for a frame or paint to color “water/sky” on the piece of wood
-Plastic wrap for the brush to stop the brush from drying out in between coats
- Protective gloves
- Painters tape
- Roll of paper towels
- Resin (EnviroTex Lite & Amazing Clear Cast are 2 good brands)
- Small flat stir sticks
- 2 cups for mixing resin (flat sides and bottom)
- Straw for blowing at any resin bubbles
- Mini butane torch (optional)
- If adding a graphic of town name or saying
-White matte permanent vinyl (Starcraft HD or Oracal 651 recommended)
-Transfer tape (with grids preferred)
Things to know before you start
- As you need to allow time in between each step (for paint to dry, and resin to cure) expect this project to take a couple of hours to make and 3 days to cure.
- Resin is very sticky and strong. Be sure that you have a good protective layer between you and your table as it can seep through.
- Wear old clothes and have plenty of paper towels handy
- Crushed glass can be bought at a craft store or you can save money and make your own.
To make crushed glass, buy the glass vase baubles at a dollar store. Heat them up in a frying pan on the stovetop and then put them in ice water immediately after. The bauble will fracture when they are placed in cold water. As soon as they are cool, place them in a plastic bag, cover the bag with a towel and gently hammer them and they will break up into many pieces. Strangely enough, the pieces are not sharp to the touch (as they would be if you just crushed a green beer bottle).
Prep and painting
- If you are using a picture frame, you will need to remove the solid backing and seal up the glass edge on the back of the piece so the resin will not drip out.
- To seal it, take a glue gun or clear silicone and go around the back along the glass and frame seam. Let that dry.
- Spread a drop cloth/or newspaper or cardboard.
- If recycling a frame, fill in any deep scratches or gouges with wood filler and allow to dry, then lightly sand.
- If sanding any part of the wood frame – use safety glasses and a face mask while sanding to avoid getting dust in the eyes or inhaling it.
- 400 grit sandpaper will give you a nice smooth surface.
- Wipe down the frame a final time after sanding to remove all dust.
- Paint the frame and let it dry and then do a 2nd coat.
Graphic cut out – Optional (if you’d like to personalize your piece with a town or saying)
- Measure the area you’d like the words to appear and create the graphic on a Cricut machine and print it out.
- Be sure to thoroughly clean your glass and wipe it down with alcohol before adhering vinyl to the glass.
Layout and resin pour
- Make sure the top of the piece is completely dust-free.
- Again be sure to clean the glass very well and wipe it down with alcohol.
- Place the frame on a small raised object so when you pour the resin any leakage will drip away and not puddle up and stick to your drop cloth.
- Take your clean shells and other objects and set them up within the frame.
- Try to pick objects that are similar in scale. After you’ve placed down the larger objects, add crushed glass around them.
- For a beachy look, start with clear or sand-colored glass around the shells, then do the next band in a light blue or green.
- Do a nice arc to mimic a wave with the colored crushed glass.
- On the tip of the wave blend in some white or silver crushed glass to give the impression of the wave crashing.
- Keep objects to a single layer so that it will be easy for the resin to hold them onto the glass.
- Sprinkle glitter on top of crushed glass.
- Mix resin with equal parts of each for 5 minutes.
- Gently stir the resin, scraping sides and bottom often.
- After mixing, gently pour over the shells and crushed glass. The resin will self-level so be sure it is on a level table. Go lightly when pouring the edge of the design so very little resin spills out over the design. A little goes a long way.
- It will take a few hours to soft set and about 72 hours to hard cure.
- Optional – You can also tint the resin with blues and greens. Do each one with a small amount in separate containers and then add them in bands going from the lightest color to the darker ones starting “at the shore” and working back toward the sea.
- Once the colored resin is on the project use your finger with rubber gloves on to gently blend the colors slightly.
- If your piece is made with a picture frame or window, Place your finished piece on a dish easel in front of a window to enhance the beauty of the piece.
- A mirror version can be hung anywhere or used as a shelf sitter on an easel.
May you always have a seashell in your pocket and sand between your toes!