Pastel Shells

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By Gina Olkowski

Not quite a year ago, I was scrolling Instagram and saw Betsy Knott (@knottbetsy) post a picture of the cockle shells the family dyed in preparation for Easter. (She in turn thanked Melelise @oceane.goods for the idea.) I tucked that photo away until I could gather some shells. I already had the Easter egg dye. This is a very easy project for yourself alone or with young (and patient) children.

supplies to make easter dyed seashells



how to dye seashells for easter

Dyeing the shells

  1. Wash the shells to remove any sand or dirt.
  2. Mix dye according to package directions.
  3. Add some food coloring to the dye solutions to create new colors or deepen the existing ones.
  4. Add multiple shells to each cup and let sit. (I let mine sit for days which is why I went for the containers with lids.) Check them frequently.
  5. Remove shells with a slotted spoon.
  6. Rinse the shells to remove the vinegar and set them out to dry.
  7. Add more shells to dye or return some for a deeper color.
  8. Repeat as desired.
pastel sea shells dyed for easter

Craft Projects

Now the rest is up to your crafting skills, space, and materials.

craft made with dyed seashells

Level I

The easiest is to put the dyed shells in a decorative dish or basket with or without Easter grass. Maybe hide several for a beach themed "egg" hunt instead of real or plastic eggs. 

colorful dyed seashells for easter

Level 2

If you have a small tree to hang seasonal ornaments on, this is a simple spring look. I have a white wire one I used. Loop ribbon through an existing hole or glue a ribbon onto each shell and hang on the tree.

pastel seashell wreath

Level 3

A more involved, though still simple project, is to glue the shells onto a wreath form or grapevine wreath. Add a pastel bow as an accent.

easter wreath made from colorful seashells

Additional thoughts and notes 

Don't shy away from darker shells. The color is bolder when dyed.

This is a great generational family project where you can complete it over a series of visits. Visit one is collecting the shells. Visit two is the dyeing. Visit three is the crafting.

Experiment with natural food dyes like onion skins, berries, or red cabbage. Or just grab an extra dye kit or two for a rainy beach vacation day when you need something to do with the children.

white seashells sand dollars starfish

dyed seashells sand dollars starfish

Try other beach finds like starfish, sand dollars, and urchins — but be careful as they absorb the dye very quickly.

Make art with your beach finds

beach glass sea shell craft how-to-articles

Learn how to make art, jewelry, and fun home decorations with seashells, sea glass, beach rocks, and more. Articles ›

Quick note:  We sometimes provide links on the Beachcombing website to make it easy to find or purchase products, some of which are on As an Amazon Associate, we may earn from qualifying purchases made when you click and make purchases on Amazon, but please feel free to purchase items wherever it works best for you.

Learn more about seashells

nature and history of seashells and collecting

Learn more about identifying shells, the history of seashell collecting, great shelling beaches, and the lives of the animals who make the shells we find on the beach. Articles ›

No live shelling: Be sure shells are empty and sand dollars, sea stars, and sea urchins are no longer alive before you bring them home.

1 comment


Bill Potter April 05, 2023

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