Wednesday, 26 March 2014

How to Make a Miniature Shell Art Box

In a previous post, I shared how I made a shell art frame for my aunt for Christmas and promised to show you what I made for her birthday. She adores miniatures and seeing as I have all these minute little shells, I thought I'd make something on a small scale. 

I found a tiny jewellery type gift box in a drawer and I immediately knew this was it!


I made a glue-based gesso, using an original old recipe which will soon be introduced into the course. This I applied as a blob to the centre of the lid to create a little mound in which I placed the coral.

{See MATERIAL LIST at the bottom of this post}

I applied more gesso ...

... and started adding shells, working from the centre outwards.

The tiny crab and paper nautilus shell were so delicate and I had a few close shaves handling them, so I decided to fill the entire paper nautilus with gesso to strengthen it.

Next, I did the corners.

After that, all the gaps needed to be filled with more shells, some of them extremely small. I also started painting the sides with a thinned down gesso.

Another visit to my ribbon stash produced a lovely old piece of soft pink velvet ribbon that was a perfect fit for the sides of the box. I filled 4 shells with gesso, again to strengthen them, but also to give them a large enough flat surface in order for them to stick to the bottom of the box, forming the feet.

After pasting a few more shells onto the ribbon to add detail to the sides, I realised that it still did not look as old as the antique shell art boxes you find at the French brocantes. This meant a quick old fashioned varnish had to be produced and applied to get an authentically old look.

I have to tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed every single step in producing this little shell art box! It was such fun and at the same time relaxing.

So, to sum up...


1. Box
2. Seashells
3. Ribbon 
4. Gesso ~ Recipe soon as part of FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course
5. Craft Glue
6. Paintbrush 
7. Tweezers
8. Varnish ~ Recipe soon as part of FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course


1. Mix homemade Gesso 
2. Apply a blob of Gesso to the centre for added height
3. Insert centrepiece
4. Apply more Gesso to lid and smooth out
5. Glue shells onto Gesso from the centre outwards
6. Do corner details
7. Fill in gaps with smaller shells
8. Paint rest of box with Gesso
9. Glue ribbon in place
10. Fill 4 shells with Gesso and leave to dry
11. Glue 4 shells to bottom to form feet
12. Add shells to ribbon for detail
13. Varnish 

I can't wait to make this for myself!


#paintcourse #onlinecourse #paintfinishes #patina #art #shell #shellwork #shellart #beachcombing #jewellerybox #interior  #diy #diyproject #diycrafts #beachinteriors #crafts #handmade #handcrafted #homemade #howto #shabbychic #antique #farragoz

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

How to add an old-world paint finish to a new sailboat?

I am so thrilled with my $2 charity shop find of last week!  I instantly knew I had to have it.

Okay, perhaps it didn't look quite like this...

... but more like this.   It was clearly mass produced and bore a Made In China sticker underneath to prove it.  I know this kind of thing that has been painted and then sanded in a few places, appeals to a lot of people who like "paint techniques", but this is not the look and finish I go for. It looks too new.

A quick search on the internet provided me with this inspirational photo. This is what I wanted my sailboat to look like. Really old and neglected. I was very anxious to change this boat into something looking authentically old with lots of patina.


I quickly sanded the entire boat, leaving the surface less smooth for my home made wood stain to penetrate. It then needed a resist before I painted my first coat. 

{See MATERIAL LIST at the bottom of this post}

I used masking tape to mask the area that was to stay white and applied black oil paint from Module 1 of the course.

It needed some extra detail, so I marked out a "window" with a pencil and drilled an indent on both sides. Next I painted some details in different colours, distressed and polished it.

The wooden sails were dead wrong. I found the perfect piece of old threadbare linen between my vintage fabrics. This I cut to size and hand sewed it to make the new sails. 

After attaching them to the mast, they still looked too new, so I smeared them with wet teabags and left them to dry. They turned out nice and blotchy, looking just like old weathered sails.

I topped it off with a little red flag which was just a tiny triangle of linen, dipped in my home made red oil paint.

And that was it! A new mass produced sailboat became an old and unique vintage sailboat in just a few hours!

So, to sum up ...


1. Basic model sailboat
2. Sandpaper
3. Wood stain ~ Recipe from FARRAGOZ Online Patina PROJECTS Course
4. Wax
5. Casein paint ~ Recipe from FARRAGOZ Online Patina PROJECTS Course
6. Masking tape
7. Oil paints in various colours ~ Recipe from FARRAGOZ Online Patina PROJECTS Course
8. Paintbrushes 
9. Pencil
10. Drill
11. Polish
12. Linen or cotton fabric
13. Scissors
14. Needle and thread
15. Teabag


1. Sand down lightly to key
2. Stain
3. Wax resist
4. Paint white
5. Mask white area
6. Paint black area
7. Mark out window
8. Drill hole
9. Paint detail colours
10. Distress ~ Following Methods in the Icon Project of  FARRAGOZ Online Patina PROJECTS Course
11. Polish
12. Cut, sew and attach sails
13. Age sails

Look out for my next post which will be the promised other shell art project!


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Monday, 10 March 2014

Make a Shell Art Frame Gift for Under $5

I have an aunt who is very dear to me. We share many interests, one of them being shell art. So when Christmas came along last year, I knew exactly what to give her.


I went out and bought a simple, inexpensive frame. Then I dug out a 3mm (1/8 inch) MDF Board (Supawood) off-cut which was left after making the last trumeau mirror. Next, I picked out the shells from my collection  (I never return empty handed from the beach) and found some velvet ribbon to match the colour of the shells.

{See MATERIAL LIST at the bottom of this post}

I then drew out the design on the MDF, making sure the inner measurements match that of the inner measurements of the existing frame. Afterwards, I cut the board with a jigsaw and lightly sanded the edges for a smooth finish. Next, I glued the ribbon onto the board and finally added the shells... 

... et Voila! A Quick and easy job, finished in only a few hours the day before Christmas! I spent about $2 on this and my aunt was utterly thrilled with her gift!

So, to sum up...


1. Basic picture frame 
2. 3mm (1/8 inch) MDF board slightly larger than the frame
3. Ribbon 
4. Seashells
5. Ruler
6. Pencil
7. Scissors
8. Craft Glue
9. Jigsaw
10. Sandpaper


1. Draw out your design on the MDF board, ensuring that the inside measurements of the frame and that of your design coincide
2.  Cut MDF with jigsaw
3. Smooth edges of MDF board with sandpaper
4. Glue MDF board onto frame to form new frame front
5. Glue ribbon onto frame front
6. Glue shells onto ribbon

Now, months later, it's her birthday and I'm at it again. I will soon share with you what I've been creating with shells this time.

P.S. There are so many exquisite decor objects that can be created using seashells. Here are some of my favourites.


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#paintcourse #onlinecourse #paintfinishes #patina #art #shell #shellwork #shellart #beachcombing #frame #interior  #diy #diyproject #diycrafts #beachinteriors #crafts #handmade #handcrafted #homemade #howto #shabbychic #antique