Seashell Crafts of the Early 1900s

Written by katherine kally
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Seashell Crafts of the Early 1900s
Seashells were popular craft materials during the Victorian era. (Seashell and Seafoam image by Patrick Moyer from

Seashells have been used as craft materials for hundreds of years. During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, Victorian crafters used seashells to create and embellish home decor objects. Vases, frames and boxes were popular backgrounds for seashell crafts. Seashells were also used to create elaborate shapes and designs for wall art and other ornaments.

Decorative Frames

In the early 1900s, seashells were used to embellish mirror and picture frames. Small shells created a bevelled-type edge around the perimeter of mirrors or around the inside perimeter of a picture frame. Seashells combined with an assortment of other decorative embellishments such as buttons, lace, fabric and beads to decorate the border of mirrors or picture frames. The shells form a collage of shape, colour and design around the face of the picture frame or mirror. The shell collages were also placed in specific sections of the frames, such as the top centre or in the corners, to alter the design.

Seashell Ornaments

Medium and large scallop seashells were popular craft materials in the early 1900s. Victorian crafters painted the shells with artistic designs and attached paper images to the flat sides to create ornaments. Bits of lace created a border for the shell, and thin ribbon served as a hanger when necessary. Crafters used glue or melted wax to attach the paper and fabric to the seashell. The seashell ornaments adorned Christmas trees, windows, vases, frames and other home decor projects.

Seashell Art

The art of creating flowers, birds and animals using a variety of small seashells began in the Victorian era and lasted into the early 1900s. Rice shells and other small, round and oblong shells are the building blocks for the seashell art. The background for wall art can be a canvas or fabric, but these seashell art designs also work as embellishments for vases, boxes and frames. For example, flowers were formed with one small, round shell as the centre and then surrounded by larger round or oblong shells, with additional oblong shells in different colours to make the leaves. Victorian artists used melted wax as glue for the project.

Seashell Trinket Box

Seashells of varying sizes, shapes and colours were used to decorate trinket boxes in the early 1900s. The centre of the box lid and the centre of the front side often displayed a larger shell ornament, either hand-painted or enhanced with a paper image. Small seashells were also combined to form shapes to embellish the centre of the trinket boxes. Other materials were used in combination with the seashells to decorate the boxes. Lace, fabric, ribbons and beads were commonly used as a background or separation for the seashells.

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