Seashell Topiary Craft
By Amy Bentley
Want a beautiful topiary that doesn’t need water or trimming? Make it with seashells! This one-of-a-kind décor item is sure to be a conversation starter when your shelling buddies come over for dinner, and it will bring reminders of the sea to your home.
- Small clay or ceramic pot
- Small pack of moss for the top
- One wooden dowel
- Styrofoam ball, approximately six inches or smaller in diameter (Not too large because it will get heavy once the shells are glued on.)
- 3.7 oz. tube of clear E6000 craft glue
- Small shells of your choice. I used the spiny jewel box, turkey wing, scallop, lettered olive, yellow cockle, sunray venus, shark’s eye, lightning whelk, cross-barred venus, and cat’s paw. Feel free to add sea glass and other lightweight beach finds to your topiary!
- Rocks to put in the bottom of the pot to counter the weight of the shell ball. Have enough rocks to fill the pot to about an inch from the top.
- Acrylic paint for the pot
Prepare the pot
- Paint the pot to match the color tones of the shells and beach finds you are using. Or, you can use a plain terracotta pot or a pretty ceramic pot. Paint multiple coats as needed.
- I glued some small shells around the top of the pot for decoration. You could wrap a small piece of rope or string around the pot, add a large signature shell on the front, or attach some pretty sea glass or beach rocks.
Pro tip: A plain pot with a few shells won’t distract from the colorful shell ball.
Make the shell ball
- Glue shells to the Styrofoam ball, making sure shells fit snugly together to minimize any Styrofoam showing. Avoid placing two of the same type of shell next to each other. Many shells have round sides, so be thoughtful in how you place and fit the shells together. Use smaller shells to fill gaps.
Pro tip: Don’t over-use glue and gently press the shell slightly into the Styrofoam as you attach it.
- Cover the entire Styrofoam ball, leaving a space where you’ll insert the dowel. You can leave this space larger than the dowel’s diameter and cover the gap with shells after it’s been inserted in the Styrofoam ball.
Assemble the topiary
- Once the shell ball is finished and the glue has dried, insert the dowel several inches into the shell ball.
- If there is a hole in the bottom of the pot, cover it with tape or a flat rock. Place the other end of the dowel into the center of the pot. Fill the pot in with the rocks, placing them all around the dowel.
Pro tip: Balance the rocks so the shell ball stands up straight with about two inches of the dowel showing between the pot and shell ball.
- Layer moss around the top and lay a few shells on the moss as a finishing touch.
Enjoy your daily dose of vitamin sea!
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2022 issue.
Learn more about seashells
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.