Monday, June 28, 2010

The Life of an Item

My name is Kim Bauer and I run 1022 Sea Shell Ave. The life of one of the listings in my shop starts somewhere deep in the Atlantic Ocean. It has become a family affair when it comes to collecting my sea shell supplies. The 4 seasons of the year gives me the opportunity to collect certain types of shells; Summer brings clam shells, the fall brings scallop shells, the spring brings oyster, and the winter brings conchs.

The winter time is the hardest time to collect conch/whelk shells for me because the beach is FREEZING when they wash up. This is the secret I have learned over the years if you live on the east coast and would like to collect them. Usually after a huge storm has passed up the coast you'll find empty shells. You must use a tide chart and go looking at the second low tide after the storm. I have wasted many trips to go searching at the first high tide only to return to the warmth of my car cursing and freezing to the bone. I will spare you the picture of me in my hip boots. Maybe next year I'll take a better shot but I will spare you the horror. Usually my husband and I will bundle up like Eskimos hardly able to walk because of all the layers of clothing, and collect a basket at a time. The ones with creatures inside we throw back into the ocean.

Ok, so first we collect, then I sort the seashells into a keeper pile then a garden pile. Some that the kids pick up are broken and I'm not able to use but I don't tell them that at the time we collect them, I don't want to break their spirit and discourage them on the days we find no shells at all, which is often this time of year (summer) when our beaches are raked first thing in the mornings to give the tourists a clean place to play. After the shells have been sorted I clean and disinfect them using boiling water and soap with bleach then the are placed outside to air dry. Once dry, I bring them into the house and store them in my "studio". My studio is any flat surface in our family room that won't get disturbed by one of my 5 kids. Needless to say I have completely taken over that room!

Once the seashells are cleaned and sorted I then decide which ones I want to drill a hole into. All the drilling needs to be done outside because of so much dust. I then prepare them by using 3 coats of primer. It has taken me 10 years to get the exact combination of paint type and sealer to use. I can't let that secret out but I will tell you the paint is acrylic and the sealer holds up out doors. I've tried so many different types of paints and sealers over the years,and finally found the perfect mix 5 years ago. Since then I have been tight lipped and won't tell any one my secret. *wink*

After the seashells have been painted and sealed I will then string the ones that have holes for hanging wall art using sailors knots with hemp cord or ribbon. I store the finished product in unused pizza boxes the kids helped me decorate.

Finally, once they are purchased I wrap them in tissue paper, tie a pretty ribbon around them and send them off in a shoe box. With as many kids as I have and with as many pairs of shoes we own, shoe boxes have become the perfect solution to shipping! I also include a picture of the
beach where the shells have been collected.


  1. I found this so interesting. I love that it is such a family activity in collecting the shells. Great job!

  2. Your story is wonderful and those shells are gorgeous. I loved reading about your family's involvement with your craft; it's so sweet. Good job writing this and thank you for sharing it.

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  4. Great story, very interesting, loved reading it.

  5. I just loved reading your story Kim.
    All in the Family...and you're not only creating lovely art you're making life long memories with your kids. Thanks so much for sharing!! ♥toni