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Are you packing up your family, and heading off to a beach vacation this summer? We are getting packed and ready for our annual long summer trip to Las Vegas (where there are no sea shells at all) and then to the beach (where there are plenty!). Here is a simple craft to bring along for the inevitable lingering afternoon or rainy day at the beach. If you are at home this summer and staying put, it is easy to buy a basketful of sea shells from the local craft store and set up a beachy vibe at home to entertain the littles while you get a little needed time to breath. Beachy tunes & frozen fruity drink not optional!

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Painted Sea Shells

To paint shells (rocks, seaglass, small pieces of driftwood, or coral are fun, too), you will need:

seashells1. Prepare by brushing all sand off the shells, and covering your table surface with newspaper, wax paper, or a vinyl tablecloth.

2. Paint the shells, using the acrylic paint colors… Try to find the natural guides on the shell to decide where to paint – look for ridges, swirls, and edges. Depending on the color, more than one coat may be needed, but this paint dries very quickly.

3. Here is the razzle dazzle… add some detailing to the shells, using the liquid gilding. Again, look for guidelines on the shell – the liquid gilding fills in cracks and crevices very nicely.

IMPORTANT: LIQUID GILDING IS NOT WATER-BASED! THIS MEANS THAT IT WILL NOT COME OUT OF CLOTHING AND CARPETING EASILY, IF AT ALL. DEPENDING ON THE AGE OF YOUR CHILDREN, THIS STEP CAN BE FOR THE PARENTS ONLY, OR SKIPPED ALTOGETHER. BUT, I PROMISE YOU, IT IS WORTH IT!! PRO TIP* TO SAVE THE HASSLE OF USING ACETONE TO CLEAN MY PAINTBRUSH AFTER GILDING, I USE A CHEAP BRUSH THAT I JUST THROW AWAY WHEN I’M FINISHED :)

4. Once all paint and gilding has dried, paint over the acrylic painted areas with Mod podge acrylic sealer… this gives the paint a nice sheen and contrasts well with the shells. If you want the entire shell to be shiny, paint the whole thing.

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If there are shells with little holes in them, they can be strung on cording for a sweet necklace. Larger shells and sand dollars also make a fun wallhanging when strung on twine. The painted and gilded shells look festive in a bowl or basket on the kitchen table and can bring back great memories of that special beach vacation all season long!

(Photo concept, design and photography ©A Subtle Revelry by Elizabeth Veilleux).