Creative Tutorials For Sea Glass, Shells & Driftwood
Searching for unusual rocks and colorful shells on the beach was something I used to do every time I went to the beach as a kid. I'd arrive home with bags of items and they unfortunately usually stayed in the bags as I didn't really know what I could do with them....so I've put this page together with a large amount of ideas for all kinds of beachy crafts in the hope that these lovely objects are put to good use!
I also have a major weakness for driftwood décor as it's so full of character, so I've also included fun things to make with this wood, plus sea glass art and sand based DIYs.
I hope you find plenty of inspiration here :)
Top Beach Craft Supplies & Books
Craft books are excellent resources for ideas, how-tos and advice, and I have listed a few great choices below. I've also added a job lot of 25 decorative shells which you can buy if you don't live near a beach :)
Collecting & Cleaning Beach Finds
Just a note to point out that with beach crafts, obviously they all consist of items taken from public beaches after being washed up, so just be careful about what you take and how much you take - just be respectful to the beach :)
- Driftwood: If you are going to collect driftwood from a beach, please check that it is allowed first if the piece is quite large. Always follow any beach rules and signs about what you can remove from a beach. Small pieces of loose driftwood should be fine, just don't dig pieces up from under the surface. Try to choose dried out wood. If there has been a storm, go down to a beach after high tide to see what has been washed in. If there is a lot of driftwood and other debris, this would be a great time to collect supplies as the beach will need clearing.
When you have collected the driftwood and brought it home, it's best to clean it and dry it out thoroughly to get rid of any dirt, insects or nasties that could be lurking inside! Soak the wood in water and use a stiff brush, scraper and/or chisel to remove any decaying bits or moss you don't want on it. Leave it to dry a bit and then if you would like a smooth finish sand the surfaces with sandpaper, or simply just sand any sharp sections so you don't get splinters. Rinse the wood again to remove any loose debris, and if you want a lighter sun-bleached look to the wood you can then dip the wood in/brush the wood with a diluted household bleach solution (see the bleach container for instructions on making a safe cleaning mix). Be careful with the bleach and use it in a well-ventilated area. Leave the wood to dry out thoroughly in the sun for at least a week. Driftwood is very light when it is completely dried out. You can coat the driftwood with beeswax, wood stain, paint or leave it natural after it's dry.
- Shells: Make sure there's nothing living in the bigger shells before you take them home. To clean the shells you can just use clean water and maybe detergent if the shells are clean looking already. However if there is dirt or moss on the shells and you want to brighten them up, or if they smell, you can use a diluted bleach solution as mentioned above in relation to the driftwood cleaning.
Use a bucket or bowl (not used for food) and put the shells in. Cover the shells with a 1:1 ratio of water and household bleach - in a well-ventilated area and following safety guidelines on the container - and leave them to soak for a while (a few hours), and keep checking to see the progress. If any shells are losing their color you can remove them. Wear rubber gloves to protect yourself from the bleach and use a toothbrush to scrub off any dirt and sand, and carefully use a metal scraper or other tool to remove anything stuck to the shells like barnacles. Rinse the shells with soapy water and leave to dry thoroughly. For adding a shine to the shells, rub them with a small amount of baby or mineral oil on with a cloth.
- Sea glass and pottery: There are some very interesting and pretty ceramic and glass pieces to be found on beaches (great for mosaics and jewelry) and to bring out their natural beauty you should wash them first with clean water to remove the sand and loose dirt, then they should be individually placed in a bowl of soapy water and left to soak for an hour or two. Be very careful to put the plug in the plug hole if you're using the sink so the little pieces aren't lost in the drains!
Transfer the pieces to a bowl of clean water to rinse, and a soft brush can be used to remove any remaining dirt. Dry them with a soft clean cloth and leave them out to dry for a day or so. They are now ready to use, although if you want to add shine to the sea glass (not the pottery) then you can add a little bit of baby or vegetable oil to the surface to get rid of the frosty look, then blot any excess oil off.
- Pebbles: Only take pebbles and smaller stones rather than larger rocks from beaches unless you have permission. If they're clean looking you can just wash them with water and detergent to remove sand etc from them, but if they have hard-to-remove marks or dirt on them you can use a diluted bleach mix as with the shells.
You can sometimes use a rock tumbler machine to get a shiny surface - some pebbles (that look more 'glassy') can be polished, whilst others can't. If you scratch a line in the stone and it's powdery then it can't be polished.
Good Tip: When you are down at the beach collecting bits 'n' pieces, you can do your good deed for the day by picking up any litter you see too - although don't pick up anything too unsanitary without gloves and a sealed bag...just stick with food packaging and the like!
Sand Dough Starfish
Seashell DIY Tutorials
- DIY Wire Earrings
Step-by-step for making simple shell jewelry.
- Boutonierre or Brooch
Simple seashell accessory.
- Mini Water Terrarium
Beautiful idea for a sea treasures display.
- Metallic Shells Display
Arrange in a decorative bowl or hang from the tree at Christmas.
- Beeswax Tealights
Melt beeswax, pour it into shells and add a wick for this easy make.
- Shell Pets
One for the kids!
- Seashell Bouquet
Simply attach shells to natural floral wire for beautiful décor.
- Wind Chimes
Using all kinds of beach treasures for a hanging ornament.
- Miniature Gardens
Create tiny succulent gardens inside shells.
- Shell Christmas Trees
Metallic shell cone for a centrepiece in the festive season.
Fun Shell Scenes
DIY Shell Door Curtain
Making a curtain for a doorway in your home would be a fun way to use up a lot of shells and create a seaside feel.
What You Will Need:
* Jewelry thread (such as Nymo) or some fishing line; it's best to use a thin cord/thread/string which is strong. You will need quite a few meters of it, although the exact amount depends on how many shells you will use, how big your doorway is and how many shell strings you want in your curtain.
* Lots of shells; if you don't have so many you will need to space them out more sparsely.
* Eye protection
* Dremel rotary tool with a diamond drill bit or a ceramic drill bit. Alternatively you can use an electric drill with a fine/small drill bit. The holes in the shells only need to be big enough to let the thread/string through.
* Scrap wood
* Small adjustable vice or clip (optional)
* Wooden rod; this can be a thin and narrow piece of driftwood, dowel, bamboo etc. You could use a plastic or metal rod instead if you wish, such as a curtain rod.
* Tape measure
* Screw-in ceiling/wall hooks; these will need to be screwed in above your doorway in order to hold up the wooden rod. If the rod you want to use is bigger than the diameter of the hooks, you will need to use a different method, such as a tension rod or a curtain rod with matching wall brackets.
- The first step is to clean and dry the shells thoroughly.
- Next, you will need to drill a small hole in each shell. If you have a vice or a clip to hold the shell in place whilst you do this that would be handy, but otherwise you just have to hold it steady yourself and be careful. Wear eye protection and rest the shell on a piece of scrap wood to protect your work surface. Try and put the hole centrally on the shell, not too close to the edge. Practice on your least favorite shells first and only use very light pressure (if any) with the drill/Dremel so you are less likely to crack the shell.
- Measure the height and width of your doorway and decide how many strings you will need for the curtain. Then work out how many shells you will put on each string, and how far apart they will need to be. For example, you could want 20 strings with 10 shells on each, which means you'll require 200 shells - which is a lot!
When you are planning your design, line up your shells in rows so you know what order you want them in, and also decide if you want the shells in the same positions on every string, or you want a more random effect.
- Start stringing the shells onto the string/thread, following your design. It's up to you how you attach each shell, but I would simply thread the string through the hole and do a simple knot. I might put a drop of glue on each knot too just to secure it.
- When you've finished the strings, attach them individually to the rod, equally spacing them apart. There are 3 options for this:
a) Tie each piece of string to the rod
b) Drill holes through the center of the piece of wood, one per string, with the holes being just big enough for the string to feed through. Secure each string on top of the rod with a knot and maybe glue.
c) Hammer nails into the wood in a line and hang one string off each nail.
- Hang the curtain onto the door frame with wall hooks or another method as detailed above. Finished!
Shell & Rope Wall Hanging
Further Crafty Uses For Shells
- Silver Leaf Shells
Add some luxury to your fan shaped shells.
- Seashell Light Garland
Twinkling fairy lights with shell 'lampshades'.
- Embedded Shells In Resin
Fab technique for making jewelry or paperweights.
- Shell-Topped Bottles
You could also fill the bottles with sea glass or shells.
- Printing With Shells
Use real shells in the place of fabric stamps.
- DIY Shell Wreath
How to build up a seaside wreath with a straw base.
- Mosaic Tiles
A fun kid's craft using Plaster of Paris.
- Beautiful Ankle Cuffs
Suede ankle cuffs decorated with shells and other embellishments.
Homemade Shell Wreath
Recycled Driftwood Projects
- Driftwood Heart
Pretty art made with lots of small pieces of driftwood.
- Candle Holders
Chunky wood décor with candle holders attached.
- Driftwood Boats
With fabric sails and charming mini bunting.
- Doorknob Jewelry Holder
Use a variety of old fashioned handles for a rustic style.
- Hanging Candelabra
Fab for an outdoor party - or you could have it as a table display or wall hanging.
- Artistic Driftwood Sticks
Jazz up some sticks with collage, paint or yarn.
- Painted Coasters
Slice your driftwood logs to make funky drinks coasters.
- Ornamental Orb
Amazing project that I think looks very impressive.
- Christmas Tree
Wall mounted modern tree with added baubles.
- Photograph Display
Using just string, pegs and driftwood.
- Elephant Key Hooks
Imaginative use for elephant toys.
Modern Painted Driftwood
More Homemade Driftwood Creations
- Painted Houses
You could make a whole cityscape with this method.
- Rustic Wreath
Fabulous decoration for your door.
- Giant Sailboat
Sculptural wood boat for your mantelpiece.
- Driftwood Lamp
Simply wrap sticks of wood around an existing lampstand.
- Sunburst Mirror
Stunning and impressive wall mirror.
- Seahorse Wall Art
Fantastic seahorse shape built up from driftwood pieces.
- Wood Burned Key Hook
Which you could also use as a jewelry display.
Sea Glass Suncatcher
Using A Rock Tumbler
Things To Make With Sea Glass
- Mosaic Serving Tray
Revamp an old serving tray by creating a mosaic base.
- DIY Bauble Ornaments
Display pretty sea glass pieces inside clear baubles.
- Shadow Box Art
Arrange sea glass by color for attractive art displays.
- Dainty Chimes
Dreamy sea glass pieces hanging from driftwood.
- Wall Hanging
Use copper wire to join sea glass pieces in strands.
- Jewelry, Pendants & More
Several different elegant things to make.
DIY Driftwood Shelves
Fun Pebble Craft Ideas
- Rock Monster Magnets
Fun painted monster rocks to put on the fridge.
- Decorative Transfers
Apply rub-ons onto pebbles for elegant ornaments.
- Engraving Rocks
Write words into the surface of rocks - just be careful!
- How To Drill Stones
Drill holes in pebbles to create lovely seaside jewelry.
- DIY Door Knobs
Great idea for cabinet, drawer and door handles.
- Crochet Stone Covers
If you can crochet you can make some lovely lace pebbles.
- Beach Rock Wreath
With sea blue glass rocks for contrast.
- Heart of Stone
Contain stones inside a chicken wire heart - ideal for bathroom art.
Rocks Vs. Shells Game
Creative Sand How-Tos
- Sand Cast Candles
How to use sand to form the mold needed for candle wax.
- Sand Dough Recipe
I love the idea for making a little Stonehenge!
- How To Dye Sand
Mix sand with dye to create your own vibrant colors.
- Sand Art Pictures
Paint pictures with dyed sand and glue.
- Sparkly Sand Bowls
Awesome bowls made by mixing sand with glue and pouring layers over a bowl mold.
- Sand Candles
Easy candle making methods - and you can even embed shells in the wax.
- Handmade Fossils
Create beach-themed casts in plaster.
- DIY Moon Sand
Endlessly interesting moldable sand for kids.
Driftwood Heron Sculpture
Test Tube Vase
Ideas & Inspiration
- Pressed Seaweed
Preserve beach seaweed as framed art.
- 60 Shell Crafts
Inspiring list - I especially like the use of shells to imprint pastry.
- Easy Seashell Ideas
29 more ideas for what to do with your scavenged shells.
- Martha Stewart Crafts
Including fun ideas such as shell animals and a soap dish.
- Driftwood Horse Sculptures
I could make one of these for my garden right?!
- Many Driftwood Crafts
Huge amount of projects including bathroom screens and a Christmas village.
Beach Themed Craft Videos
Please Leave a Comment!
Cindy Franklin on May 25, 2015:
These are great ideas for our next trip to the beach!
Menzi on September 13, 2014:
I was looking for ideas for a beach theme lesson plan and I'm so grateful for your ideas, my children are going to have a fun time doing crafts. Love the shell door curtain :D
Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on May 27, 2014:
I collect shells, both common and unusual. Great lens
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on May 03, 2014:
Love the 'sea glass' suncatcher. What a fun list of clever craft projects that are 'beach-related'.
nonya222 on September 26, 2013:
I have been Living at the beach for over 30 years and still find something to take home each day. Great ideas.
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on August 21, 2013:
I find myself picking up beach treasures quite often. I'm looking forward to checking out some of your links.
mina009 on July 30, 2013:
Some wonderful ideas here. Great lens!