Monday, December 12, 2011

Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale 'til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


My great-aunt Annabelle was a shell artist.  Her big apartment was right on the harbor overlooking Clearwater Beach back in the 1960's.  Whenever my mom would take us with her to visit Aunt Annabelle I knew I would have to be a very good little girl because her little-old-lady dwelling was crammed full of antiques that were breakable & tables full of shells in the process of being colored with dye & glued into flowers, critters, & other shell works of art. As we climbed the front steps to Aunt Ann's house your nose was always greeted by the distinctive whiff of glue fumes. 

 Back in the day the only glue available for shell craft  was the kind that would give off a vapor that would make you a little woozy  & it took a quite a while to dry.   My mother carried on the shell crafting tradition.  She had her little plate with a puddle of glue.  She would dip her toothpick in and dab a little here and dab a little there to create her little shell masterpieces.  Then that all changed one day in the 1970's when  my mother came home with her first hot glue gun. There was no looking back.  From that point on no craft was safe.  As long as she had an outlet to plug into she was good to go.  

For our family the holiday season was announced by the blisters on mom's fingers where the glue would plop on her skin while she was hot-gluing flower arrangements, ornaments, & what not.  Yes, there were some screams of pain but they are my memories, okay, and I will cherish them always.   In her lifetime my mom has seen a man put on the moon, the first heart transplant, & the computer age  take over her everyday life via iPod, email, & the world wide web.  But the invention she has embraced the most would be her hot glue gun.  She's making the world a better place one glue stick at a time.
The Englewood Shell Club's annual project is hand-making every shell ornament for the Christmas tree on  display at the Cedar Point Environmental Center.
Angel tree topper made from scallops & sun ray venus wings.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a rattlesnake skin on the wall.

Most of the shells were collected from local beaches

All it takes is a little imagination , a lot of patience, & a few glue sticks.

Jingle shells, jingle shells, a garland made entirely of jingle shells.

Ornament made from coquina shell flowers.  Each flower is made separately then glued onto the ball for hanging.

An oyster-shell Santa with a long beard & a coquina wreath.

The seashell tree will be on display through Jan. 6, 2012 at the Cedar Point Environmental Park in Englewood, FL.

Never underestimate the power of large groups of shell collectors with a glue gun.


  1. Very nice. I'd love to see what your mom and great-aunt could have done! Maybe when we are old ladies, we will sit at a picnic table on the beach and make shell ornaments! :)

  2. Hahahahahaha......I am right there with ya, sistah!! Glue guns will NEVER be taken over by the techies. Our scorched fingers will reign forever!!! Love the tree and ornaments!

  3. Wonderful tree! I'm loving the oyster shell santa, so cool. I have found quite a few oysters!! Happy Holidays!!

  4. The only thing lovelier than this tree is the great memories you shared!

    Love the jingle shell garland!


  5. What a nice memory story - those are the best! I love the coquina shell flowers on the ball - beautiful!

  6. What a wonderful memory you carry of your great aunt. This tree has some cool ornaments. The jingle garland is awesome, and the coquina shell flowers are adorable on that ball!

    There is a new product out to protect fingers from hot glue!!! You can find the review at CraftCritique.

  7. Loved the blog. And" Yes" nothing says Christmas like a rattle snake on the wall:)


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