Foraging Project # 2: Beachside Findings

It’s the end of summer and a lot of you have spent some time on a lovely beach. Perhaps you walked the beach in the evening or wandered through the dunes at the crack of dawn. How many of you were able to resist picking up sea shells and other ocean artifacts along the way? So now you have jars or bowls full of shells, driftwood pieces, sea beans or sand. What do you do with these goodies? Toss them out? Most of you won’t but you’ll end up with shells and sea beans in plastic Tupperware, awaiting a chance to display them to family and friends.

I’ve got some great ideas for crafts that will let you show off those findings every day of the week. Great projects for shells, driftwood, sea beans and sand. Easy, step by step recipes. So don’t shove them in a drawer or, worse yet, throw them out! Gather them up, put them in a bowl of water for washing and get ready to have some fun.

Great Projects For Leftover Sand

Before working with sand you’ve gathered at the beach, you must first clean it up a little before using. You don’t need to do anything special but you should “wash it” a bit by running water through it or raking through it with a fork or your fingers. This is to get out any rocks, pieces of seaweed, small shells, broken shells and other debris. You want smooth, clean sand. You do not need to sterilize it or bleach it for these projects. No one is going to be putting these items in their mouths.

Sand Candle

This project will not necessarily make the exact same candle as in my photo. However, in the long run, the sort of candle you make will be up to you.

Materials You Will Need:

Cooking spoon or garden trowel
24″ x 18″ x 10″ cardboard Box
Beach Sand (enough to fill the box)
Small decorative items like shells, driftwood, ceramic fish, fishing lures, etc… none larger than
2″-4″ in size
Candle Wicking 12″ long
Candle Wick tab
Paint stirring Stick or any stick 8″-12″ long
Double boiler or electric Skillet
3 lbs of Paraffin (candle wax)
Serrated Knife

Method for Making the Candle:

Fill the box with the sand. Then with the cooking spoon or garden trowel, dig a hole in the center of the box of sand. Make the shape of the hole the shape you would like your candle to be. You can use a large mold or stencil if you like. Any shape will do but a popular one is a large “bowl shaped” candle where you dig a hole in the middle and gradually slant it up towards the top so that it’s shaped like a bowl. Make this candle as large or as small as you would like.

Just inside the rim of the hole you have dug place your decorative items. Set these items in a pleasing pattern so as to create a sort of handle for the finished piece. Don’t spread them out around any more of the rim than one side. Settle them into the sand so that they are held by the sand but an entire side of each item is exposed. Make sure to plug them into the hole deep enough to be a part of the filled candle.

Thread the wicking into the tab and place the tab in the bottom center of the hole you’ve dug. DO NOT cover it with sand. Lay the paint stick or pencil across the top of the hole and wrap the wicking around it. Make sure the wick is held straight. This is tricky so don’t be upset if it takes you a while to get it right.

If you are using an electric skillet, set the temperature at 150 degrees fahrenheit. If you are using the double boiler, simply turn it on. Heat the paraffin until it is a liquid. DO NOT overheat, because paraffin can quickly catch fire. DO NOT melt paraffin in a regular pot or frying pan. Never place paraffin in a pot or pan directly on a stove top burner. This is very dangerous. Use a double boiler or electric skillet.

Pour 1/4″ of the melted wax into the hole so that it covers the bottom, including the wick tab. Allow this to harden. Once it has hardened, reheat the remaining wax and pour it into the hole, filling it to the top. Make sure the decorative items are locked into the wax at the edge. They should be covered on one side to a depth of 1 and 1/2 inches. If you have to move them, do so, but refill the area with liquid wax after doing so. Allow this to harden completely.

Once the candle is hard you can remove it from the box. Use the serrated knife to trim the wick to 1″ and the cut off a layer of wax from the bottom to provide a flattened area to stand it on.

Sand Painting

Materials you will need:

4 lbs of clean white sand
Powdered or liquid tempera paint in various colors
1 cup container for each color you plan to use
Teaspoon
Glass or plastic jar with lid; 1 pint size
Plastic drink stirrer or paint stirring stick

Method for making the painting:

This is really easy and super fun. It is up to you to choose the colors and designs, making this a true creative work of art. First of all, you need to mix the sands with the colors you choose. Place 1/2 to 1 full cup of sand in each cup container you have set aside. Once each of the containers are filled with this much sand, spoon in the tempura paint into each container until you are pleased with the color of the sand. Start slowly! Even 1/4 tsp of paint adds significant color. Feel free to mix colors as well to acheive the color you want. I recommend using powdered tempura rather than liquid because you won’t have to wait for it to dry. It will be immediately ready for use. If you choose to use the liquid color, then you will have to wait 2-3 days for the colored sand to dry before continuing.

Once the sand has dried the right color, spoon a layer of one color into the bottom of the jar. You can smooth it out to be level or create a pattern of waves and swirls with the spoon or plastic drink stirrer. Continue adding different colored layers of sand, swirling or leveling, as you go to create patterns that you find pleasing. Continue doing this until the jar is filled. Once you are happy with the design, screw the lid on the jar. Display as a decorative work of art.

Great Projects For Sea Shells:

These projects can be done with many different kinds of shells, although the most favorite in many craft projects is always a large clamshell or nautilus shell. There are many other projects created for sea shells and I will post more in the future. Before using sea shells in projects, wash them thoroughly to rid them of sand. Boiling them in clean water is recommended to rid them of bacteria or sea creatures not visible to the eye. If the shell is discolored and should be white, you can bleach it before using. Be careful not to bleach shells that have a patina or a natural color or you will lose those qualities. In most cases, mild boiling for a short period of time is sufficient.

Copper Shell Print

Materials You Will Need:

Modeling Clay (or adhesive Floral Clay)
Rolling Pin
A large Scallop Shell or several smaller Shells
Picture Mat Set
Sheet of Copper 1/2″ larger than the frame
Plastic Burnisher
Fine-tip Pen (with no ink)
White Craft Glue (Elmers?)

Method For Making The Print:

Roll out the Clay to an even thickness of 1/4″. With the outside of the Shell (or Shells) face up, gently press the shell or shells into the Clay to hold them in place.

Center the piece of Copper Sheeting over the Shell. Impress the shape of the Shell into the Copper by gently rubbing the Copper on the face with the Burnisher. Sign your name in the bottom right corner using the empty Pen.

Position the Copper Sheeting in the center of the Picture Mat and then glue it into place. Glue the Mat Backing into place and hang to display once everything has dried. You may add a picture hanger to the back in order to hang it on the wall.

Shell Christmas Tree Ornaments

Almost any kind of Christmas Ornament can be fashioned from Seashells. One to hang on the Christmas Tree, one to grace the overhang above the front door, one to dangle from the window. Any place you can use regular Ornaments to decorate over the holidays can be used for Seashell Ornaments as well.

You have a large variety of types to choose from. You can make large ornaments for window sills or overhangs by using large Shells like Nautilus, Clam Shells or Conch Shells. Smaller Ornaments for hanging on the Christmas Tree can be made from any of the myriads of cute little Shells you see laying in the sand along the Seashore. Just remember to pick the cleanest, brightest and most perfect of the Shells you find. Cracked, discolored or sandy Shells make ugly Ornaments.

Paint, Dye or Mark up your Shells any way you like. Hang them from Ribbons, Wires, Jewelry Findings, Filament or Metal Ornament Hangers. You will be amazed at the variety, colors, types and shapes of the various Ornaments you will be creating once your imagination gets going.

I have seen gorgeous Ornaments made from Shells decorated with Glitter and hung with Iridescent Ribbons.

Materials You Will Need:

Glue Gun
3 sprigs of Sweet Annie, 3″ long
1 long, narrow Shell about 2″ long
3 sprigs of German Statice, 2″ long
Flat, Wine-colored Clam Shell, 3-1/2″ long
3 sprigs of Yellow Yarrow, 2″ long
2 Bay Leaves, 1″ long
Flat, Orange Clam Shell, 3-1/2″ in diameter
5 stems of Blue Sage, 2″ long
4 White Shells of various shapes, 1-2″ long
3 stems of Pearly Everlasting, 2″ long
One 1″ Starfish
3 stems of Magenta Globe Amaranth, 1″ long
1 Orange Strawflower
1 flat, round Shell, 1″ long
19″ White Velvet Ribbon, 1/2″ wide
19″ Wine Colored Velvet Ribbon, 1/2″ wide

Method For Making The Ornaments:

FYI: If you cannot obtain an Orange Shell or a Wine Colored Shell, either on the Beach or in a Shell Shop, then you will have to resort to painting two shells. Use spray paint to make sure the paint is distributed evenly and does not clump like oil paint or streak like water based paints. Spray paint outdoors on a covered surface or a surface which does not matter. Allow the Shells to dry to make sure that the color is rich and pleasant looking. If not, repaint until this is achieved. And then do as follows:

Hot glue one end of the 2-1/2″ narrow shell to the center of the back side of the Wine-Colored Clam Shell so that it is standing upright. Hot glue the Sweet Annie, the German Statice and the Yellow Yarrow to the outside surface of the Orange Clam Shell, so that they create sort of a “fan shaped” decoration.

Hot glue the Blue Sage, the Pearly Everlasting and the Magenta Globe Amaranth to the inside of the Wine Colored Clam Shell, creating a sort of “fan shaped” decoration. Then hot glue the 1″ flat, round Shell at the base of this arrangement so as to cover the stems of the Sage, Pearly and Amaranth. This should have the visual effect of looking like the foliage is sprouting out of the shell in a fan shaped array.

Hot glue 3 of the small, white shells to the back of the Orange Shell, scattering them among the sprigs of foliage already glued there. Glue the 4th Shell at the base of the arrangement so as to cover the stems of the Annie, the Statice and the Yarrow. This should have the visual effect of the foliage sprouting out of the shell, in a sort of fan shaped array.

Fold the Wine colored Velvet Ribbon in half and cross it at the center. Hot glue this ribbon the front of the Wine Colored Shell (on the outside, the other side from where you have glued the foliage). Leave a loop at the top of this ribbon to serve as a hanger. This should also allow the crossed ends to dangle beneath the ornament, as an added decorative accent.

Fold the White Velvet Ribbon in half and cross it at the center. Hot glue it to the inside of the Orange Shell (on the white portion of the shell, the other side from where you have glued the foliage). Leave a loop at the top of this ribbon to serve as a hanger. This should also allow the crossed ends to dangle beneath the ornament, as an added decorative accent.

You can make these Ornaments with any number of various shells, of various shapes and sizes. Mix and match flowers and shells to add to the decoration. Try various hangers, as well. Ribbons are pretty but wires, filaments and strings can be used as well. These look really beautiful on a brightly lit Christmas Tree.

Shell Tissue Box

You’ve no doubt seen these if you’ve traveled to beach resorts. A popular project in the 1980s, these shell covered tissue boxes became so common that resort town souvenir shops began selling them. They have sort of faded from the scene these days but still make a nice project for using your extra sea shells. The prettier the shells you use, the nicer the box turns out. So consider this as a possible gift for someone special or as a decorative piece for your oceanside condo and give the project your best.

Materials You Will Need:

40-50 Seashells of various sizes
Plastic Tissue Box
Glue Gun

Method For Making The Box:

Separate the Shells into 3 piles, based on size: Small, Medium and Large.

Arrange several of the largest Shells on the top and sides of the Tissue Box and hot glue into place.

Continue gluing Shells onto the box until it is just about covered. Work at this point with the Large and Medium sized Shells only.

Once all of the Large and Medium Shells are in place, fill in any holes or empty spots with the Smaller Shells, placing them and then hot gluing them in.

Allow the Shells to dry completely on the Plastic Tissue Box before using. Once it is all dried, you can slip the Plastic Tissue Box over a regular sized box of Tissues and pull the first tissue through the top. This looks nice on the shelf in the Bathroom.

Great Projects for Sea Beans:

If you are a dedicated beach goer, sunbather or walker you know what sea beans are. They are so popular in some communities that groups actually exist for collecting and assessing sea beans. They are rather rare, in fact, not something you will find as often as you find crab shells, seaweed or even angel wings. But when you do find them it is said to be lucky and so people treasure them. If you are a collector or just a seeker of sea beans, you will love these projects for using your cute little finds.

Sea Bean and Sea Shell Collage

Collage, from the French word, coller (to glue), is the general term for an artistic arrangement of various materials glued to a surface. Just about any material- wood, fabric, metal, plastic- can be used in making Collages. When more than one type of material is employed in the same work, the product is called an assemblage. An assemblage may incorporate such found objects as nuts and bolts, doorknobs, rag dolls, seashells… whatever the artist finds pleasing.

Here, we will discuss the making of assemblage with a mixture of Sea Shells and Sea Beans. Because Shells and Sea Beans are heavier than other objects, you must choose some other platform besides paper or fabric. Wood, glass, plastic or a mirror are great choices for this type of work.

A basic idea for a simple Collage incorporating Shells and Sea Beans would be using a flat board or a sheet of glass. You would obtain as many Seashells as you could collect, bleaching or painting them as you desire. You would also collect as many Sea Beans as you could find. You should not paint or dye Sea Beans.

You might also want to add interesting found objects to create diversity in your project. Examples might include ceramic hearts, glass flowers, small metal fans or buttons or painted nuts and bolts. Whatever you find attractive. These can be added into the Collage when you see that they add diversity or balance.

Begin by filling in most of the glass sheet or wood board with the Sea Shells, hot gluing them onto the surface side by side until they fill out the outer area. Place them until they cover every inch of the area except for a large square in the center.

Around the edges of the inner square, hot glue on the Sea Beans. Place as many Sea Beans as it takes to make an entire frame of Sea Beans in the center of the Shells.

You may also want to draw an X into the center of the square and hot glue Sea Beans along the X. And then you might consider filling in the area around the X with paint or findings such as hearts, flowers, buttons, nuts, bolts or small fans. It’s totally up to you. This is a true artistic creation that allows for your own imagination.

Collages can be overlaid on other Collages. They can be anchored and hung from ceilings, walls or door handles. They can replace mirrors or paintings in bedrooms and living areas. They make fascinating gifts. In some cases, they are good enough art to be sold on the open market.

Sea Bean Necklace and Bracelet Set

Materials You Will Need To Make The Set:

70-75 Small Sea Beans
Very Thin Silver or Gold Bracelet in your size
Very Thin Silver of Gold Necklace in your size
New Spool of Heavyweight Fishing Line or Filament
2 Jewelry Clasp Findings with loop attachments (example: Lobster Claw)
Needle Nosed Pliers
Electric Drill
1/16″ Drill Bit

Method for Making the Set:

The first thing that you must do is choose the necklace materials. If you have a very thin Silver or Gold Bracelet and/or Necklace in a suitable size, then you should use these as the base material for the set. If not, then you must choose Fishing line or Filament for this purpose. Always choose the heaviest weight Filament that will fit inside the hole you drill. This is a difficult match. Do not drill a hole larger than 1/16″ or you will split the Beans. My suggestion is that you drill a hole in a single Bean first and take it with you while shopping for Filament or Fishing Line. Also remember that too thin a line will be weak and cause the necklace to droop. Buy the heaviest Fishing Line that you can find that will still pass through the hole.

When collecting the Beans for the project, select only the smallest Beans you can find. The larger Beans are just too cumbersome and heavy for this project. The small Beans are lightweight and will string easily on the base material. Try to collect those Beans that are closest in size, similar in overall appearance. Some variation in size will not matter as long as you are able to balance it out by pacing. For instance, 4 larger Beans, 1 smaller Bean, 4 larger Beans, 1 smaller Bean, etc…

Once you have collected 70-75 small, well shaped Sea Beans, you should wash them off and polish their surface with a cloth. Then, using the Drill and Drill Bit, you should drill a hole through each of the Beans. If the Beans are too small and the Bit is too large, go to a smaller Bit until you find a size that will not split or crack the Beans. For the Necklace project, you will need at least 45 of the Beans.

Once all of the holes are drilled, you may run the Fishing Line or Filament through them, stringing the Necklace so to speak. If you have a Silver or Gold thin Necklace you wish to use, remove it’s clasp. Once the clasp is removed, you may string the Beans along this Necklace and then replace the clasp. However, this may be difficult if the size of the hole you drilled does not work with Necklace. If the hole it requires is not so large that it would damage the Sea Bean, then choose the proper Bit and redrill the hole to accommodate the Necklace. If you can get the Necklace to work with the Beans, this is the easiest way to make this and it will look the nicest.

When using Fishing Line or Filament, string the small Sea Beans along the Necklace by running the Fishing Line through the holes you have made. You may make the Necklace as long as you would like and then stop stringing Beans. After stringing, at the end of the line, cut off the Fishing Line, leaving two inches. Use one extra inch to tie onto the loop end of the Lobster Claw Clasp on this end. Draw the line forward until the Beans come to the clasp and expose the additional inch of Filament on the other end of the Necklace. Tie on the loop end of the Lobster Clasp Catch on that end. This can be flimsy so be careful to tie the Filament in tightly so that the Necklace pulls up in a firm line along the Filament. Clip off any excess.

Repeat this above process for the Bracelet. Again, if you have a thin Silver or Gold Necklace this is the proper size for your wrist, use it. This will be easiest to fashion and look the nicest. Otherwise, follow the same procedure as above for the Bracelet length Filament. Use the same kind of Clasp and attach it the same way for the Bracelet. With the Fishing line, you can also choose the length of the Bracelet you make. Young girls or kids might like to make a double wrapped Bracelet or even triple wrapped, if you have collected enough Beans. For a simple, small Bracelet you will need approximately 30-35 Sea Beans.

I have got a lot of wonderful seaside craft projects, using everything from cattails to beach tar! I will post some more of these wonderful foraging ideas in the future so hang in there with the blog. Thanks for reading and happy crafting!

Shelling & Beachcombing in the Caribbean and Florida

Sea Shell Mixes-25/Pkg

Beginner’s Sea Shell Crafts

Sea-Beans from the Tropics: A Collector’s Guide to Sea-Beans and Other Tropical Drift on Atlantic Shores

Shelling & Beachcombing in the Caribbean and Florida

Sea Shell Mixes-25/Pkg

Beginner’s Sea Shell Crafts

Sea-Beans from the Tropics: A Collector’s Guide to Sea-Beans and Other Tropical Drift on Atlantic Shores

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