Crafting with shells is a fun activity for kids, which also teaches them the value of reusing and recycling things from the world around us. So if you're visiting the beach this summer, why not get your kids to collect some shells to take home, so they can make their own shell masterpiece? You can make anything – from a shell sculpture to an ocean scene for the bathroom. Here’s a starter activity: a simple method for decorating an old photo frame, to showcase your shell craft skills.
Before you start
For the simplest design, you will need some white PVA glue, newspaper, craft paint and of course, the shells. Not holidaying near the sea this year? You should be able to find bags of shells in a local arts and crafts store, even some pet shops stock shells destined for fish tanks!
If your shells were hand-picked from the beach, they will need washing thoroughly in a bowl of water to get all the dirt and sand out of them. Kids are usually happy to do this step on their own! Once they're clean, dry each shell with a tea towel.
Next, think about what frame you want your kids to decorate. It could be an old one that's in need of a revamp, or you might buy a cheap wooden or plastic frame for them to experiment with. It's a good idea to choose a frame that has quite a wide surface-space, so there's plenty of room for the shell collage.
Finally, remove any glass from the centre of the frame and put to one side. Then you're ready to begin!
Making your shell picture frame
For wooden frames or those that are a little worn, consider applying a layer of white paint to form a neat background first; or paint the frame a sea-inspired colour like blue or green; and then let dry. This is an optional step – some clear plastic frames might look better as they are.
Then, get your child to arrange the shells around the sides of the picture frame and once they're happy with the arrangement, they can start gluing on each one individually with white glue. Younger children may need help with this stage. Again, leave the frame to dry before you decorate further.
The next step is entirely up to you: either finish-up by coating the shells with a clear wood varnish to make everything shine; or let your child stick on some extra embellishments – like glass beads, or pearls. Glitter is also fun to use: simply coat different parts of the shells in glue; sprinkle on the glitter; tip off the excess onto newspaper; and let dry. Remember to varnish everything afterwards to keep the glossy surface intact.
Tip: If your children have brought some sand back from the seaside, this can add another texture to the ocean-themed frame. You might want to cover the frame with glue first, and sprinkle on the sand, before you start gluing on the shells and other objects.
Once finished, use the frame to display one of your holiday snaps, or perhaps let your children give the frame as a homemade gift to their grandparents next time they visit.