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How to Make Nautical Decor as an Arts and Crafts Project

October 25th, 2012

Trips to the beach are great family experiences that bring the entire family together in a fun and relaxing atmosphere.

In a modern world where everyone is constantly distracted by a barrage of emails, texts and Facebook updates, the beach represents an opportunity to unplug from the modern world and get back to nature, even for just an afternoon. Traditionally, children spend beach time building sand castles and playing in the surf, and will often end up collecting interesting sea shells they find during play. This is an origin of a rather time honored question: what to do with the fruits of your little beachcombers’ labor? Look no further, as Handcrafted Nautical Decor’s got the answer.

The first, and perhaps most obvious, final destination for these treasures of the deep is jewelry. While shells must be professionally drilled, (they’re rather fragile) it’s a fairly easy venture, and many types – such as clamshells – actually have holes naturally, making them the first choice for stringing and making necklaces. Elastic is most preferred these days over traditional string and cord, and a simple purchase made at any craft store. While bracelets and necklaces are the most apparent selection for jewelry creation, earrings are just as easy; all that’s required are the proper findings – usually jump-rings, posts, and detachable hoops – ranging from sterling silver, to silver-plated and gold-plated. Solid gold is available, but understandably pricier. Sterling silver remains among the most popular.

Most shells require a small buffer to keep the pieces from clanking together, and this is a simple fix via seed beads: which are very small glass beads with tiny holes and come in a wide variety of colors, including shades of silver and gold, and many neutrals. Spacer bars are a step-up from the much more economical seed beads, and considerably more ornate, but provide greater detail to the overall piece.

And, whatever your styling, you’ll need some crimps and terminators – though, don’t worry; these guys will just terminate the ends of the elastic or cord, rather than mercilessly hunt you down. Like the other findings, (which is really just a fancy name for accessories needed to create jewelry) they’re readily available in anything from stainless steel to sterling and gold-plated.

A hot new number is a sand dollar choker; talk about your bling, but these dollars make sense. First, the sand dollars require a thin coat of a heavy preservative, like a shellac. Then they’re simply threaded through the top and bottom holes to where they’ll lie flat against the mid-neck. And, as usual, finished off with crimps and terminators. Seed beads or spacer-bars are again desirable for this design, as well as rondelle and flat ornamental pieces to accent the shells.

If jewelry’s not your thing, there are other ways, of course – such as bedecking your home. Starfish, for example, are beautifully mounted against a plain background and placed in an artbox or hung display case. There are many colors and styles to choose from as well as fabrics and textures. Or, for an even simpler one-two combination, dried driftwood with mounted starfish, barnacles, and even seahorses might be up your alley.

Whatever your pleasure, all that’s required are a few trips to the craft store or frame shop, and a bit of assembly time. Am I missing something? … Oh! The beach!

Happy hunting!

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