A pure white seashell

Boxes From the Sea

You can almost hear ocean waves gently washing onto a beach when you hold one of these beautiful boxes. Embellished with shells or pearls, each can hold vacation photos, a collection of keepsakes, jewelry or notes of thanksgiving to the Lord. They make an especially thoughtful gift when filled with Bible-verse memory cards lettered by hand.

Box Basics

Unfinished wooden boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes may be purchased from craft stores or online sources. These boxes are ready to paint and embellish. Prep the box by painting the surface with two coats of white craft paint. If the raw wood surface isn’t smooth before painting, sand it with fine-grit sandpaper, wiping off dust with a lint-free cloth. After the first paint coat dries, if the box isn’t smooth enough, lightly sand it again with fine-grit sandpaper before adding the second coat. Use high-temp hot glue to adhere seashells, pearls or pieces of mother-of-pearl to the surface.

A DIY box is encrusted with imitation pearls.

PEARLS

Natural pearls from the oceans shelled mollusks are a treasure because of their rarity and beautiful nacreous, iridescent luster. Copycats—imitation pearls—are made from glass or plastic. Some of the fakes can have a quality look and lustrous appearance, especially in pastel pink, coral, silver, cream or white. Purchase at local craft stores or online. Select a variety of types, sizes and colors. Quantity needed will vary depending on the size of the box, the diameter of pearls and how many you apply. A rule of thumb is about 1 cup of pearls to every 5 square inches of surface.

To help you make a pearl-encrusted box, left, dump pearls into a low-sided container big enough to corral them in one layer. This will keep pearls at hand while making it easy to pick out pearls in the sizes you need. Working in small sections, squeeze hot glue onto the box surface, then quickly sprinkle pearls onto the hot glue, packing them tightly together. (Caution: Hot glue can cause burns.) Cover the entire surface with a thick layer of pearls. For a highly textured surface, go over the entire surface again, adding drops of hot glue and attaching more pearls, large and small. Cover just the box top or the top and sides, as you prefer. You may leave a clear strip around the box lid as a place for attaching a pretty ribbon and bow.

Materials

Materials from Michaels

  • Wooden box
  • White craft paint
  • Pink plastic pearls
  • Coral plastic pearls
  • White plastic pearls
  • Cream plastic pearls
  • Grey plastic pearls
  • Pink satin ribbon

Tools

  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Medium foam brush
  • Medium low-sided container
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
  • Fabric scissors

Instructions

If desired, sand wooden box to make smooth. Apply white paint evenly with foam brush. When dry, sand if desired and apply an additional layer of paint. Let dry. Place all pearls in low-sided container and stir to disperse colors evenly. Work in small sections to cover the top of the box lid and the sides of the box base with pearls, leaving the sides of the box lid void. Add hot glue straight to the wooden box and apply pearls to the glue. Compress pearls together, being careful not to let fingers come in direct contact with the hot glue. Add additional pearls to the first layer, creating a high texture.

Cut satin ribbon to measure the perimeter of the box. Adhere the ribbon with hot glue, joining the ends at the box fastener. Use additional ribbon to create a bow and use hot glue to place it centered over the box fastener. Remove any visible hot glue strands.

Make your own shell-encrusted box using shells found at a craft or online store or gathered at a seashore.

Shells

While at sea, sailors used to make seashell-covered boxes for their sweethearts back home. Make your own shell-encrusted box using shells found at a craft or online store or gathered at a seashore. For help in identifying shells go to identification guide at seashells.org.

Separate shells into like groupings. Arrange them on the prepared box top as you like, keeping them inside the box edges. Adhere shells to the box using high-heat hot glue or non-yellowing, surface-appropriate craft glue. After the first layer of shells dries in place, glue on more.

If your collection includes a large number of the same type, size and color shells, you may create an intricate design for your box.

Materials

Materials from Michaels

  • Wooden box
  • White craft paint
  • Seashells

Tools

  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Medium foam brush
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks

Instructions

If desired, sand wooden box to make smooth. Apply white paint evenly with foam brush. When dry, sand if desired and apply an additional layer of paint. Let dry. Arrange layer of seashells on to the top of the box lid, keeping the perimeter of the shells flush with the sides of the lid. Use a hot glue gun to adhere the shells to the box lid. When first layer is complete, add a second layer of shells with hot glue to fill in spaces between adhered shells. Remove any visible hot glue strands.

To encrust this DIY box with mother-of-pearl, cover surfaces with evenly placed disks using a high temp hot glue.

Mother-of-Pearl

Open an oyster or other sea-mollusk shell and you will find the inside shell surface is lustrous. This thin lining is made up of layers called nacre—the same material that makes pearls shiny. Natural mother-of-pearl that has not been bleached or dyed is a mix of white, cream and caramel colors. As a craft material, mother-of-pearl is offered in a variety of sizes and shapes, including round, hexagon, flower, heart and lantern. Purchase in bead and craft stores or online. Use box measurements to determine how many pieces you will need. To encrust boxes with mother-of-pearl as shown, cover surfaces with evenly placed disks. The material adheres easily using high temp hot glue and a prepared box.

Materials

Materials from Michaels

    • Wooden box
    • White craft paint
    • Mother of pearl discs

    Tools

    • Screwdriver (optional)
    • Needle-nose pliers
    • Sandpaper (optional)
    • Medium foam brush
    • Hot glue gun and hot glue sticks

    Instructions

    Use screwdriver or needle nose pliers to remove box fastener. If desired, sand wooden box to make smooth. Apply white paint evenly with foam brush. When dry, sand if desired and apply an additional layer of paint. Let dry. Use hot glue to adhere each mother-of-pearl disc onto the box, forming straight lines from one edge to the other. Cover the entire box with mother-of-pearl discs. Remove any visible hot glue strands.