My daughter has a a huge shell collection which she adds to every year when we go to the beach for our January vacation. She loves to walk on the beach very early in the morning at about 6:00 am when the tide is so low that you can barely see the water from the shore. Strewn all over the wet sand are all kinds of wonderful sea treasures which she picks up in and saves in a little plastic bag that always accompanies her on these beach treks. I was beggining to run out of places to put the shells as the collection just keeps growing and growing. I placed some in flower pots around the base of plants, others in glass jars, and other in little wooden curio boxes. I kept the remainder stored in a tin bucket outside the kitchen door (for lack of clever ideas) where they sat getting dusty and wet from the frequent tropical rain. And then, I saw a picture of some glittery shells online somewhere which immediately triggered an idea. Yes! I would make glitter shells! I realized quickly that I’d have to buy “extra-fine” glitter on Ebay or Amazon because when I asked about it at my local crafts shops, salespeople looked at me as if I had two heads. Extra fine glitter is very powdery and much finer than regular glitter. It sticks to surfaces much better and it forms a uniform coating of sparkle due to the fact that you can’t see the individual pieces of glitter like you can with regular glitter. My mother also suggested to me that I use “diamond dust” on some of the shells. I had no idea what diamond dust was. I’d never heard of it. After a bit of investigating I discovered that diamond dust is also a type of glitter but it’s made of glass rather than metal like the regular glitter is. It’s also much grainier and looks alot like coarse salt. And one last thing about diamond dust. It can cut you. (Ask me how I know) If it’s glass….it cuts. So you have to be very careful when using it. However, the transparent sparkle of it is beautiful.
The materials are really very few. Extra fine glitter, or diamond dust (or both if you want to experiment with different textures) some Elmer’s glue (or any white glue) a bit of water to thin it, a paintbrush and some shells. I diluted the glue with a bit of water because I didn’t want it to go on to the shells too thick. That would make the glitter look clumpy even after they’ve dried. I just wanted the glue to have the consistency of a wash so I put a dab of it into a small bowl and added a bit of water and stirred it until it was thoroughly mixed.
Then I applied the wash to the surface of each shell with a paintbrush and sprinkled on the extra fine glitter making sure that the entire surface of the shell was coated after which I shook off the excess. I bought glitter in three colors, Aquamarine, sea green, and copper. Not that those are my favorite colors but I found them on Ebay for about 5 dollars for all three jars and that sure beats Martha Stewart’s price for her extra fine glitter. Now I wish I had bought additional colors. Once the shells were completely coated I set them aside to dry undisturbed for about an hour or so.
I coated some of the shells with glitter and others with diamond dust. The shells that are covered in diamond dust sparkle and shine and catch the light while allowing the true color of the shell to show through. Again I have to stress though, that you have to be very careful with the diamond dust because although the granules aren’t sharp for the most part, they become immobile once they’re dried onto the shells surface and they *can* prick your fingers. But the sparkle and gleam of the white shells is worth it. After my shells dried, I arranged them into several pretty dishes.