Friday, September 21, 2012

The Process of Hand Painting Sea Shells

This is the beginning on my process of hand painting my sea shells to make them into hanging ornaments. I thought you all would like to see just how it's done. This post is the very beginning, I'll update it as I do them.

First you'll need shells, these are regular clam shells that I bleached and washed in very hot water. After they are washed just let them air dry.

 Make sure to inspect them, what your looking for are any cracks or sharp edges. I like my finished shells to be oh so smooth.

Then find your Dremel! You could use any drill but I find the hand held Dremel is very easy to use. I have a 1/8 inch drill bit in it and its just the right size for threading my cord or ribbon when the painting is complete.

That is as far as I've gotten so far today and wanted to post right away, so let me stop and go paint them so i can show you.............

Ok!! Here we go!

I first prime my shells, I use a indoor/outdoor acrylic paint, always in white, it just works for me to have a blank canvass so to speak.

I usually drill, prime and paint many at a time so I have them ready when I need them.

The inside of the shells I always do first, they get 2 coats.

Then the outside of the shell gets 2 coats of primer.

Let them dry, completely.

I wait a couple hours to let the paint completely set and dry.

I have these great mini paint brushes that I love! They are small enough to get fine detail. I'm using acrylic paint.

The horizon line always comes first, that way I can judge where I want the sky and the sand.

I work on the water.

Getting it just how I want it.

Then start on my sky. The sky is most always the same color as the water only a lighter, much lighter shade.

The sky takes a bit of time to get it just right (for me).

Then sand.

Again, it takes some work to get it how I like it.

Adding some dunes.

Then up goes the fence. and the start of the Christmas Wreath.

A red ribbon on the wreath and I use a Faber Castell artist pen to complete the fence.

 Added a few lil birds.

The shell is then framed in gold acrylic paint, I used Martha Stewart metallic paint. (Love that paint!)

And here it is,

all dressed up and ready for Christmas.
If you would like to order a hand painted shell you can leave me your email contact info here
on my blog or message me on Facebook
I also have ready to ship items ready in my Etsy shop
Price for shells either here on my blog or on FB is 14.00 each, if your local I will deliver. Otherwise shipping will be 6.00.

If you have found this info helpful I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment. This post has generated huge views but few comments. Thanks for reading :)


  1. Ooh, this promises to be a fascinating series! P.S. Do pop by my blog today for a little surprise :)

  2. well hello there Kim...I see we won an award today so I popped over to say hello and what a lovely surprise. you have an amazing place here with wondrous finds and creative gold!!!! I simply had to follow. best wishes see you again soon.

  3. I'm thrilled to see your process Kim...let's me know just how much love go into all the shells I've purchased from you....reminds me....I need to pick up a few more for the holidays!!

    Good job and good luck!

    1. Thank You Toni! Yes, lots of love! I truly enjoy breathing new life into the shells left on the beach. Time flys when I'm painting them :)

      <3 Kim

    2. I forgot to mention the completed shell gets 3 coats of sealer on either side to protect the art, and I also forgot to show the back where it is painted gold and inscripted with the year.


  4. so cute.. i am also an artist but i create coastal inspired belt buckles and bags .. i have never used the metallic paint by martha tewart but will try with your suggestion stop by my blog..beachhouse etc im trying to get myself regularly posting it gets tough when you are always making things lol thanks for sharing

  5. Thank you so much for posting these instructions. I love painting on shells , fabrics etc.
    I felt that I had lost touch but it all came back as read your instructions . Thanks.
    My shop is on:
    Handmade Jewelry and Crafts.

  6. thank You for the instructions = have done almost all kinds of crafts =have tons of shells picked thru the yrs. but had never found how to paint on shells You have made my day

  7. Kim, I too am an artist .... ocean side dweller ..... writer, mother & lover of all things beautiful & inspiring. I happened by your blog today while perusing the Net for more seashell painting inspiration. I just love your ornaments .... I have done similar ventures with shells for past trees but love what you have done with these basic little clam shells which we find in droves in our local 'cove'. You have inspired me to start picking these little canvasses up once again & breathing new life into them with a little paint. Thank you .... I will definitely begin to follow. :-) Karla

    1. Hi Karla! Thanks for the kind words! :)
      I'm on FB if you wanna pop over!

      Keep Painting!!!

  8. I'm just wondering if the primer is an actual primer or is it just the acrylic paint. Beautifully done by the way.

  9. Hi Marilyn, I use an indoor/outdoor acrylic primer under the actual art, thanks for asking.

  10. Hey Kim, great work :) Some people might wonder, why one should invest in such a little thing, a small shell.. Its so much perfection in itself - engineered by Nature - geometric & material wise among others.. And to that, you add the memory of a moment, time, place, people and such clear, vibrant beautiful strokes and shades.. A thing of beauty is a joy forever :)

    1. Thank you for your beautiful comments, you get the "why" I do what I do. Thank you for taking the time to write to me, I'm going to post your comment to my FB page.