Along the Gulfshore


New Life for Shells

Southwest Florida’s claims to fame are varied, but its worth as a vacation destination is undisputed. And we’re willing to bet that a good many vacationers return home with a few shells tucked somewhere in their luggage. They are, after all, pretty attainable, and what says “we just returned home from a beach vacation” more than a slew of seashells?

In case you were unaware of the treasures right in our own backyards, you should know that Coastal Living magazine named Sanibel as the best beach for shelling in the country. It’s so famous for that, in fact, that locals have dubbed the shelling posture (bent over, shuffling along, slowly scanning the sand) the “Sanibel stoop.” For those in Naples, a good friend of mine who’s well-versed in shelling swears by the southernmost tip of Port Royal as a goldmine for the things. (On my first shelling venture with her, I managed to find a perfectly shaped little starfish, which, according to her, is quite the rare find. Beginner’s luck, I suppose.)

But the question I’ve always had is, once you’ve spent an afternoon sifting through thousands to find the best candidates, what do you do with them? If you’re crafty, or even if you’re not, here are some simple ideas for repurposing them.

As candles

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PHOTO CREDIT: etsy.com

Once you’ve cleaned the shells, melt an existing candle and pour it into the shell, placing the wick in the center, and let cool.

As a wreath

 

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PHOTO CREDIT: wisteria.com

Wrap ribbon around a foam wreath form (they come in varied sizes at Michaels) and secure with a few dots of hot glue. The ribbon will serve as a base to hot glue your shells on. It’s best to start with the larger ones as “anchors” and then fill in the space with smaller shells. To hang, tie a ribbon at the top, or attach a piece of florist wire and twist at the top to make a hanger.

As salt-and-pepper holders


PHOTO CREDIT: Martha Stewart Weddings

Leave it to Martha. Once your scallop shells are thoroughly cleaned, hot glue pairs of shells together at the hinge, flip one over and attach it to the base. Why would you want to serve sea salt in anything else?