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. Sea shells
3. Ribbon 
4. Gesso ~ Recipe soon as part of FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course
5. Craft Glue
6. Paint brush 
7. Tweezers
8. Varnish ~ Recipe soon as part of FARRAGOZ Patina PROJECTS Course


1. Mix home made Gesso 
2. Apply a blob of Gesso to the centre for added height
3. Insert centre piece
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!


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