Adventures in Arts and Crafts Part II: Creating a Seashell Display
Wauchula, FL - Events of Monday, May 28 to Monday, June 4, 2018
Once we had purchased our seashells from Richard's Seashells in Lake Wales and we had picked up some additional craft supplies from Michael's, we were ready to tackle our seashell decoration project for the bathroom. We also had the glass apothecary jar we had gotten from Michael's and a couple of wine bottles from one of our neighbors at the Co-op.
We decided we wanted to extend the aqua color accents we used in the bedroom to the bathroom so the plan was to incorporate that color into the seashell display. Unfortunately, although seashells exist in a variety of colors, aqua isn't one of them - at least it's not a color that we could find. Therefore, Paul decided to try to dye a few shells to include in our display.
He found a number of tutorials online that said you can use Easter egg dye. Since Easter is over and egg-dying kits aren't currently available, the tutorials also said you could make your own egg dye from food coloring, vinegar, and water. They said gel food colors were more effective because they were more concentrated so we stopped at Michael's in Sebring after church on Sunday (May 27) to get some gel food coloring and a few other supplies.
We started the seashell project the following Monday. Paul used a recipe given by one of the tutorials he found online and mixed ½ cup of hot water, 2 teaspoons of vinegar, and some of the gel food color. He soaked several of the shells in the mixture for 15 or 20 minutes then put the shells on paper towels and newspaper to dry.
Unfortunately, the color came out very blotchy. Also, even though Paul mixed blue and green to make a nice shade of aqua, the smooth-textured shells looked more blue than aqua.
Paul spent much of Monday trying to dye shells, but was unsuccessful. On Tuesday, it was on to the next part of the project. We used Krylon sea glass paint on some of the bottles and vases we previously got at a thrift store and used to decorate the living room and kitchen. The results were excellent. However, the sea glass paint has a matte finish, and Paul decided he wanted the bottle we would use in the bathroom display to have a clear tint.
There are several methods to tint glass on the internet, and the easiest method uses a product called Mod Podge, which is an all-purpose decoupage medium. Mod Podge is milky-white, but it dries clear. It's also water-based so it can be tinted with food coloring. Mod Podge is available in both gloss and matte. Matte would result in more of a sea glass look so we used gloss.
Paul mixed the blue and green gel food coloring into about two ounces of Mod Podge to get the desired aqua color.
A little water can be added to make the mixture flow better. He poured the mixture into the bottle and swirled it around to coat the entire inside surface before pouring out the excess.
Paul held the bottle upside down over paper towels for about 5 minutes to drain out as much of the colored Mod Podge as he could, after which the bottle went right side up into the oven at the lowest setting (170º).
Bottle in the oven
The instructions said it would take about 20 or 30 minutes at 170º to dry the color, but it took almost two hours. Afterward, we decorated the bottle with some raffia and a couple of starfish.
While the bottle was in the oven drying, Paul painted some of the leftover Mod Podge mixture onto several smaller shells and air dried them. The textured shells didn't look too bad, but brush marks in the thick Mod Podge mixture still resulted in a blotchy appearance on the smooth shells.
Since neither the home made egg dye or the Mod Podge mixture were successful at coloring seashells, it was on to Plan C. Paul spray painted several shells with the aqua Krylon sea glass paint we had on hand from painting the vases for the living room and kitchen. Since the sea glass has a matte finish, Paul sprayed a coat of gloss clearcoat over the sea glass paint, and viola! We now have glossy, seashells with a uniform aqua color.
Last Thursday, Paul filled the apothecary jar we had gotten at Hobby Lobby with shells. He started with a layer of sand on the bottom, then began arranging the seashells.
Paul put the apothecary jar and the aqua-tinted bottle on top of the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, but it didn't quite look right. It needed a third element to balance things out.
Last Monday, Paul took another, taller wine bottle and painted it with Krylon sea glass paint. After the paint dried, he tied on jute twine in a fishnet pattern.
We finished off the design with a small starfish and sand dollar.
The next photo shows the finished display on the medicine cabinet.
With that project finished, it was on to other things. Stay tuned for our next update.