Painting Seashells

Sanibel and Captiva Islands are world-renowned for their beautiful shell-covered beaches, and it is common to see people bent over at the waist picking up and inspecting shells of all sizes and varieties, then popping their newly found treasures in their pockets or bags to keep as a souvenir. There’s even a name for the posture that seasoned shellers often assume: the Sanibel Stoop.

Whether you have recently visited our beautiful islands or are lucky enough to reside here, what are you going to do with all of the seashells that you’ve collected? Why not paint them? It’s an inexpensive, fun project for kids and adults alike, and it can add dimension and excitement to the shells you’ve collected.

Here’s how to get started:

• Inspect the shells and set aside the ones with cracks.

• If the shells are dirty, rinse them in warm water and gently scrub them with an old toothbrush.

• Once dry, you may want to spray the entire shell with an acrylic paint primer in order to make the surface smoother (but is not required).

• If you want the shell’s features to show through, select watercolors or choose acrylic paint for fine designs, sceneries and solid-color designs. Extra fine Sharpies also work well (see second photo on the left).

• Select a theme and begin!

• After you have finished painting and your shells have dried, consider sealing them with a clear, acrylic sealer for protection.

• Display your shells or use them for other DIY projects (like the frame pictured on the right). You are only limited by your imagination!