Give your garden a nautical or tropical look with a delicate curtain made entirely of shells. Whether you have a seashell collection you're looking to showcase or you're simply seeking a creative and decorative accent for the garden, a shell curtain makes an eye-catching way of dividing space, indoors or out. When designing your shell curtain, take into consideration your access to materials as well as the overarching aesthetic you have in mind for your garden.
Types of Shells
When designing a shell curtain, your first factor will be which shells you use. A popular look for shell curtains is to use delicate, wafer-like capiz shells. Capiz are almost perfectly round and have a milky white, translucent colour with a slight iridescent sheen. For a look that resembles a finer, beaded type of curtain, use tiny shells such as cockleshells, nassa, annulus or whatever small shell fragment you can most easily find in your area. If you're using larger shells, apply them more sparingly; use a collection of brightly coloured shells of varied shapes, including both bivalves and small spiral-shaped shells.
When making a shell curtain, use the same basic technique as for a beaded curtain. Instead of a solid sheet of material, as you would use for traditional cloth curtains, you assemble the curtain out of a series of strings hung in a single layer. When purchasing string, select a gauge that's strong enough to support the weight of all your shells. Clear fishing line serves well and draws attention to the shells themselves, instead of the line. Once you've decided on a string, you'll need to bore holes into each shell, working carefully to avoid cracking them. To save time and labour, you can alternatively buy shells with holes predrilled from a craft or shell shop.
For a decorative flourish, string your shells into interesting patterns. For example, you might use very small, white shells for the bulk of the curtain and finish the ends off with larger, more decorative shells. Putting the heaviest elements at the bottom of the string will also help the curtains to fall nicely. For an ambitious project, dye some of the shells and string the different colours in alternating patterns.
If you hang your shell curtain in a sunny place, expect the sun to bleach your shells white within a short time. Therefore, any shell curtains with colourful patterns go best in shadier parts of the garden. You can simply hose off the shells from time to time or set them in a bath of bleach and water to remove any grime that accumulates.
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