Have you seen the gorgeous hand painted oyster shell jewelry dishes in high end boutiques and gift shops? Creating your own version is easy, inexpensive, and a fun craft to do with your kids. My daughter and I had the best time making a bunch on our last beach trip. It was the perfect rainy day beach project.
These DIY Oyster Shell Jewelry Dishes are easy to make, beautiful, and totally customizable - so basically, the perfect gift!
What I love about these dishes is that the possibilities for colors and patterns are endless! You can make them whimsical, traditional or even sophisticated depending on your decor.
Oyster Shells - Oyster shells are not something you can typically pick up at the local craft store. But, you do have some options for getting your hands on some no matter where you live.
- Collect Your Own- This was my method. I picked up my shells on the beach while visiting my parents on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and I love that the oyster shell jewelry dishes will be beautiful reminders of our family beach walks. If you are lucky enough to live near the beach - even better!
- Local Restaurants - Restaurants that serve oysters have to do something with the leftover shells! I know several people who have been able to get bags of free shells by making friends with their local seafood restaurants.
- Online- Etsy and Ebay are great online resources for oyster shells. And, yes, you can even buy oyster shells on Amazon.
Decoupage Material - You have some choices here and each option has its pros and cons.
- Napkins - Decorative cocktail napkins work beautifully for oyster shell jewelry dishes because the thin material conforms to the shell easily. You can find some pretty patterns here, here, and here. I think these would be stunning on oyster shells! I picked up some of my favorites on the clearance aisle at Homegoods! Napkins ended up being my favorite material because of how easily the thin layers molded to the shell.
- Tissue Paper - Hit the gift wrap aisle for some pretty tissue papers. Zazzle also carries a huge variety of designer papers that would be perfect for this project. Some of my favorites are here and here.
- Scrapbook Paper - This one is the hardest to work with because of the thickness of the paper, but the results seemed brighter and richer than the other options. Michaels and Hobby Lobby have a ton of options!
Step 1: Clean the Oyster Shells
If you collect your own shells, you will definitely want to clean them thoroughly before starting any type of craft. Check out this post for complete directions.
Step 2: Paint the Inside of the Shells
Because the papers are thin, the natural colors of the oyster shells will show through and muddy the look. Paint the inside white to hide any darker spots.
Step 3: Prep Material & Apply Mod Podge
Depending on which material you choose, you may need to do a little prep before you apply it to the oyster shell.
Napkins are generally three layers - one decorative layer and two plain white layers. Gently pull apart the layers so that you are left with just the decorative top layer. Tip - Save the white layers for cleaning your brushes between steps.
Scrapbook paper can be stiff and it will need to be softened so it can fit into the contours of the oyster shell. Brush the paper with water to make it more pliable.
Paint a thin layer of Mod Podge to the center of the oyster shell everywhere you want the paper to stick. Also, apply a thin layer to the back of the paper.
Step 4: Press Paper Into Shell & Clean Up Edges
Press the paper or napkin into the center of the shell and gently press outward toward the edge. Smooth the paper or napkin to get rid of any wrinkles.
Pro Tip: When using scrapbook paper cut slices into the edges to allow the paper to wrap more easily.
With the paper still wet, gently tear or cut away the excess.
Let the paper dry thoroughly.
If you have rough edges, use a nail file or high grit sandpaper to gently sand the edges of the dried paper. This will allow the liquid gold to lay flat on the edges.
Apply several coats of Mod Podge on top, allowing time to dry completely between each coat.
Step 5: Paint Edges Gold
Use a disposable brush to paint the edges with liquid gold leaf. Don't worry about being too perfect. This is where the organic shape of the natural oyster shell can really shine. Brush along the edges to emphasize the ridges, lines, and layers of the shell.
Step 6: Top With Resin (Optional)
To achieve a truly professional look and get the most durable finish, top with a truly clear resin and allow to dry for 24 hours. This step is especially important for dishes that will be near water. I keep one of my shells near the kitchen sink to hold my rings when washing dishes. Without the resin, the ModPodge will eventually break down when exposed to water.