Framed Beach Treasures

Create a beautiful three-dimensional piece of art using your favorite beach finds

framed sea shells

By Harriet Downes-Slaughter

Create a beautiful three-dimensional piece of art using your favorite beach finds

supplies to frame sea shells

Supplies:

  • Nautical looking frame with glass removed
  • Foam board to fit inside frame
  • Jar of Mod Podge gloss finish 
  • Small foam brush
  • Tweezers 
  • Pencil 
  • Hot glue gun
  • Assorted beach treasures, clean and dry

Whether you collect seashells, beach glass, fossils, rocks, driftwood, feathers, or other beach finds, you can create a striking framed piece with these easy steps. I decided to feature a few of the sea beans I have collected for this project, including a coconut bean, hamburger beans, sea heart, almond bean, coin vine beans, tropical walnuts, antidote vine seed, and a crabwood seed pod. The Gulf Stream magically deposits many different sea beans along the coast of eastern Florida, some from as far away as the Amazon River. Most of the beachcombing treasures for this project came from Florida’s beaches.

tray of seashells

1. Assemble all of your supplies in a large work space. Sort through the beach findings picking out the ones to be used in your project. It’s easier to see what you have if you organize them by type. Be sure to include a number of small items to fill in holes.

2. Take the back off the frame and recycle the glass. Insert the foam board into the frame opening. The foam board that I bought fit the opening exactly but if yours is too big, use an X-Acto knife to cut it to fit. 

prepare frame for sea shell art

3. Use a pencil to lightly trace around the inside of the opening on the foam board. Note: If you glue things right up to the edge of the foam board the frame will not go back on at the end.

start designing seashell mosaic

4. Make a plan for how you want the final piece to look. Lay out the major pieces starting in the middle and work your way around the foam board as you add things. 

filling in sea shell framed art 

5. I find it is more effective to group like things together rather than spread them around your art project. Once you have a plan for how you want the finished project to look, it’s time to start using the hot glue gun. Continue to build your design using bigger pieces first and then filling in with smaller pieces. The tweezers will come in handy when placing your small items.

6. Stop every now and then to remove any “glue strings” left behind. The tweezers work well for that, too.

gluing seashell art 

7. Before using the Mod Podge, give the project a final look for “glue strings” to be removed. 

8. Begin coating the whole project with Mod Podge using the foam brush. Heavily coat one section at a time knowing that it will all dry clear. The Mod Podge acts as glue while giving everything a shiny appearance.

9. Coat the entire project and remove any final “glue strings” that show up. Make any final adjustments. Allow the Mod Podge to dry over night before putting the frame back on. 

 

framed seashell art

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2021 issue.

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