Sea Shell Craft Art Project: DIY Gift on a Budget

My Bloglovin’ Feed, which I manage to get around to once a month or so, introduced me to this project. I wish I’d bookmarked the blog on Pinterest, but sadly, pinning when on a device doesn’t work very well. So…all I had to follow was my memory of the project.

Perfect timing too, as my dad’s birthday was coming up and I was at a loss about what to do for him. Being a Child of July, and a Child of San Diego, I know one thing he loves is the ocean, and this craft project brought together my love of crafting, his love of the ocean, and kept me well within the birthday budget.
I searched out a plank of wood from my sort-of-kind-of local craft shops (which means a 1-hour trip into Big Osaka on the train), and purchased the perfect plank for about 150 yen (which could be anywhere between $1 and $1.50 depending on when you’re reading this). I got a white one, brought it home and promptly forgot about it. Until it was The Day of The Birthday…in the words of my Littlest J: O-M-G!!!

So, I convinced the Little J. that he would love to help me with this project, and we started work on it.

Sea Shell Craft Project

A white plank to start

We raided my shell collection that’s been, well, collecting, for about 20 years now. Shells from all over Japan including Tokyo, Chiba and Wakayama, plus a few from San Diego, Guam and quite possibly Bali. Every beach I go to, I definitely comb the sand for something awesome (once in awhile they come with hitch-hikers, poor little critters.)

Sea Shell Craft Project

Raiding my 20-year shell collection

The plank had nothing to hang it up with, so yay! Time to let the Little J. learn how to drill a screw, which he both loved doing and got completely frustrated by. Tip: Get a magnetic drill bit if drilling screws with Little People.

Sea Shell Art Craft

Drilling holes

He did well, I marked where to put the pieces, and after about half an hour he finished getting them in. Giving me enough time to dig through my paints for wood stain, my craft box for the glue gun and locate some newspaper to protect the table.

Sea Shell Craft Project

Adding hanging bits

This may have been Little J’s favorite part: staining the wood. There’s just something therapeutic about painting.

Sea Shell Craft Project

Staining the wood

Sea Shell Craft Project

Drying the stain

I mostly chose out the shells to use, and consulted with the little guy about it, he gave a few opinions and we switched a few around, but he was pretty much on board with what I wanted.

Sea Shell Craft Project

Choosing out the shells

We laid out the shells to see how they’d fit, made adjustments and heated up the glue gun!

Sea Shell Craft Project

Laying out the design

Glue guns are very dangerous…no messy…no practical tools. Only a few yelps and shells flying across the room as fingers got coated with glue. And we had to clean up the messy strings afterwards, at least it all comes off pretty easily.

Sea Shell Craft Project

Cleaning up the glue

And Ta-Dah! Isn’t that pretty! And yes, we were very proud of ourselves!

Sea Shell Craft Project


Last step, by this time we were tired and ready to wrap it up…so we did just that, and wrapped it up in some wa-fu style wrapping paper and a ribbon we had from a box of Mother’s Day chocolates (don’t tell Papa yah?).

Sea Shell Craft Project

Wrapped and Ready!

Papa was very touched by his gift. And I can guarantee, as grandparents get older, they seem to love the handmade gifts that include some of your sweat, blood and tears. And Little People are so proud of their accomplishments.


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