Small Serendipities

I wanted to share a link to a blog called Small Serendipities. This lady is a shell collector and maker of miniatures. She has made a roombox with lots of tiny little shells, that you just have to see! It's awesome! Talk about treasures, this is truly one of them.

She also has a most interesting story about Florida's Hidden House of Shells, you may want to check that out too.


You will see two of my favorite things here. The first one is a really neat flower pot given to me by my friend Christine. It is one she actually made herself, from Sanibel seashells she collected. If you would like to make one for yourself, she has kindly put all the instruction you need, on her blog. There are also instructions for other neat crafty items, as well. Two of my Grand Daughters are here for the summer and they want to make a flower pot for their Mothers. So, we've been copying the directions and collecting shells. Thanks Chris! :-)

My other favorite thing in the photo is the Lowell Herrero print of Judy & Marge. I love those ladies!


The Wicker Bank of Sanibel

This is where most of the Sanibel Beach Treasures are kept. After filling nearly every available location in the house with seashells, they are now put in a large wicker trunk. You could say, these shells are put in the Wicker Bank of Sanibel for saving. They are then withdrawn a few at a time, like two of each kind, bagged and given away. Not only is it fun to do, it seems to make others happy, and who knows, maybe it will bring good shelling karma my way. :-)


More Shells

Shells found today. Most are very small.


Jingle Shells In My Pocket

When I'm walking on the beach, I can't help but notice the shining jingle shells. So, when I see one that I think is a pretty color or different, I pick it up and put it in my pocket. There's hardly a time that I go home from the beach without jingles.

The thin, translucent clamshell halves make a jingling sound when they are shaken together. Their surface is shiny like frosted nail polish. These bivalves (two-part shells) attach themselves to hard objects in the water and often other shells, by means of threads that extend from a hole in the lower valve. Their shape is often influenced by the shape of the object they're attached to. The upper valve is concave, and the lower valve is flatter. They vary in size, up to a couple of inches wide; most that I see are no more than an inch wide.

Sometimes they are used to make jewelry, wind chimes, strung together to make wind chime curtains, or many other craft items. Just recently, I saw them thrown at a beach wedding instead of rice. The colors vary from shades of white, yellow, and black.

Other names for the Jingle Shells are 'Mermaid's Toenails', and 'Saddle Oyster'.


Simple Project

This is a very simple and inexpensive project to use a few of your treasured seashells and some sea glass if you have it available. Hurricane candle holders or something of that type can be found at Wal-Mart or at a craft store for just a few dollars.

Hold the container upside down and either dip it in glue or put glue around the edge of the opening. Then dip it in sand.
Put a little sand inside and on the bottom of your glass container.
Place a candle in the center.
Drop a few seashells and sea glass on the sand.
Tie a ribbon around the top.
You could add some other type of decoration to the outside if you want. Like artificial flowers or glue a seashell on the ribbon.


Kitten Paws

Even though they seem to be everywhere on the beach, these little shells always get my attention. I find myself picking up a few, every now and then, just because. After looking around at the other shells I have in containers and such, I realize that I've failed to display any kitten's paws. So....I remedied that today. I placed each little kitten paw, one by one, into a glass sugar bowl. Now they have their own special place.


Sea Shell Wreath

A very pretty wreath that belongs to a friend of mine, shows how simple it would be to use a few of your sea shells to decorate your home.


Do you need ideas?

This is not something I have tried yet. But, I so admire the talent it takes to put these flowers together. I think they are very pretty. This little flower basket belongs to a friend. I believe it was purchased at The Shell Net at Bailey's Shopping Center, which is not in business anymore. Bailey's Hardware now carries some of the same items.

There are also similar crafts made by Sanibel Shell Crafters. They have their shell crafts on display at the Sanibel Community Center on Periwinkle and at the annual Shell Fair held in March. I believe the Community Center is open to visitors on Mondays from 10 - 2 in the North room. Phone # 239-472-2155.


I put these little coquina shells in a glass candy dish with a lid, because they remind me of those pastel color buttermints. None of them are over 1/2" in size and most are smaller than that.


More Shells To Share

This first one is a large welk with babies. The second is a cockle that I found with both halves still attached.

These are gifts from a sweet friend. The first one is made from worm shells and a sharks eye shell. The second one is made of buttercups and the flower is on a small piece of driftwood. Both were made by Sanibel Shell Crafters. They have their shell craft items on display at the Sanibel Community Center.


Little Treasure Boxes

These are little treasure boxes that I purchased at Sanybel's Finest. They measure 5 3/8" wide. All of the little bitty shells go in there for safe keeping. :-) One box has shells from 1" to 1/2" in size. The other one has even smaller shells, 1/2" to 1/16". I think I love these little shells more than any because they are more difficult to find, due to their size.


More Treasures

These treasures were gifts from a friend and from the sea. :-) She made the frames with Sanibel Shells and the glass fish was also a gift from her. It's great having such sweet friends. :-)


Shell Cleaning

I have been asked several times how I clean my shells. So, rather than reply to each comment, I will explain it here. I have only arrived at the method I use by trial and error, with very little research. So keep in mind that you may find something that works better for you, considering what you want to do with your shells.

How I clean my sea shells:

On Sanibel Island it is illegal to take live shells, so cleaning that type is not an issue here.

When I see a nice shell that I want, I look to make sure there is no critter living inside. If there is, put it back. Next, check to see if it has barnacles. If it does have, I usually toss it back unless it is a shell I can’t live without. Removing the barnacles is a difficult and time consuming job. (More on that later.) Sometimes there can be quite a bit of sand hiding inside a shell; I just give it a little swish in the water to rinse out what I can.

A plastic bucket or container filled with a mixture of ¼ bleach and ¾ water, if the shells are not too nasty looking or stinky, works well for me with an overnight soak. Sometimes a stinker (one with maybe a piece of the critter left inside) does turn up, or a shell with the thin brown covering (periostracum) that requires a little more work or scraping. I soak those in a 50/50 mixture overnight and if that doesn’t clean it, I put it in pure bleach for a while. If all of those methods fail, I lay it outside to let the ants, flies, or whatever, clean it. Some of my friends have buried stinky shells and then dug them up after nature cleaned them. Personally a really bad smelling shell doesn’t come along too often and the overnight soak does the trick nearly all the time!

After soaking, I take the shells out of the bleach water and put them in a sink full of hot, soapy water for an hour or so, then rinse them good and lay them out on a towel to dry.

I soak all of my shells in that manner, except shells that have a naturally shiny surface, such as olives, sunray venus, calico clam, etc. Also leave out any fragile shells such as purple tagelus and bubble shells etc. that could be broken. I just do those separately in soapy water and rinse.

If you have shells with barnacles on them, it is sometimes possible to get them off with a dental pick or something of that type. Another way that works well for me, is to use the pointy end of a whelk shell that you don’t mind parting with, to break them loose and scrape off whatever remains. Trying to get that stuff off of a shell is the hardest job ever! I read that the U.S. Navy spends more than $5 million each year researching barnacles, mussels, and various marine slimes because of the strength of their glue. The best super glue, krazy glues or any industrial strength glue we have, can’t work well under water. So, the research is still ongoing. That will explain why I usually drop those shells back on the sand. Sometimes the barnacles happen to be a nice color or just seem to add something to the shell and I just leave them on.

After my shells are completely dry, I put on a thin coat of Cabot Polyurethane Gloss, which is water based and fast drying. I apply it with a tiny brush or (my favorite) a small foam brush. Be careful not to put too much on or it will look milky. I lay them on parchment paper to dry. I use this method because I like a nice shiny finish; the way they look when wet. I’ve also heard of using clear nail polish, but who wants to buy that in large size containers? :-) Some people want to keep the natural look, but still want a little shine. That can be done by rubbing them with mineral oil. I don’t use that method anymore because the dust likes to stick to them too well. (Yes, I do have some dust.) I think that some collectors don’t like to use the poly because they think it devalues the shell. My seashells are for my personal enjoyment, not for resale. They are my ‘Treasures’, after all, and will always be valuable!

Happy Shelling!


Shells Found During Vacation 2005

These are shells that I found over a period of two weeks; last week of January and first week of February 2005. The same time that the previous beach photos were taken. That was a fun two weeks! Being here on vacation, I remember feeling like I had been blessed with good shelling. I also remember wishing that I hadn't waited to clean all the shells at one time. I hope all of you who vacation here, get a chance to experience some great shelling.


Sunrise Shelling 02/05

A beautiful sunrise in front of Pointe Santo on West Gulf Drive. There were a lot of shells that January morning in 2005.

Shelling Day Surprise 01/05

I was staying at Pointe Santo in January of 2005. I woke up early one morning, went out in front of the resort and this is what was waiting. The tide was extremely low, and there were so many live horse conchs; it was unbelievable. I actually stayed busier trying to take the conchs back out to the water, than I did picking up shells. There were a lot of other people out grabbing shells, but none of them seemed to worry about the live ones that were dying. Very sad.