Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tips on Cleaning and Preparing Seashells for Crafting

What to Do with Those Seashells After You've Found Them

Who doesn’t go to the beach and come back with seashells? Most everyone manages to find one or two seashells; some people find hundreds. Whether you’ve found your own seashells this year, or purchased a bagful from the local craft store, you can make lots of beautiful gifts and decor items from seashells. If the shells are straight from the beach, though, you’ll have to do some cleaning and preparing.

Seashells are beautiful in their natural form but look even more gorgeous after they’re cleaned and polished. The first step in doing so is to soak the shells in bleach water - half and half. Soaking for a couple of days is usually the norm but some shells have stubborn stains that need extra time. The bleach water will not harm the shells so soak away. The bleach also kills bacteria making them safer to handle.

When the shells appear smooth it’s time to remove them from the bleach water. There are still usually some rough areas on most shells, so use one of several methods to polish the shells smooth. One way is to use a toothbrush with a cleaner such as Lime-Away. You can use other stiff brushes as well. Other cleaning items include scrapers, tweezers or dental picks. Use sandpaper or a small buffer to further finish the shells. Shells will look much more lustrous if you rub mineral oil on them. They must be completely clean and dry before oiling. Instead of oil you can also use clear nail polish.

If you intend to dye the shells do not rub with oil first. Instead, boil the shells for ten to fifteen minutes. Rinse with distilled water that includes a teaspoon of vinegar and a pinch of salt for each cup of water.

Mix the dye according to package directions then let the solution boil with the shells immersed for another 10 minutes. If you’d like the dye to be very dark, lessen the water slightly and boil an additional 5 minutes. Drain water and allow shells to dry on paper towels, but never newspaper. Newspaper ink can transfer onto the shells, ruining the dye job.

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1 comment:

Amy said...

These are great cleaning tips. Do you have suggestions for drilling/making holes?

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