Archive for April, 2011

Blue Ribbon winner Barbara Walling

I started thinking about summer projects this week so I revisited some of my blog photos for inspiration. Bingo! The 74th Sanibel Shell Fair and Show was last month … and it gave me a great idea for both me and you. I thought I’d find out some of the secrets of shell crafting so I asked how 2011 Blue Ribbon and Judges’s Special Award winner Barb Walling made her ”Dandelions” piece. We will get to learn every detail of how this piece was made by the artist herself!

Barbara Walling shell crafter

Barb was gracious enough to invite me over to her Sanibel home to see where the magic begins. She first showed me how she organizes her shells that she picks up off the beach after she washes and dries them.organized shells

She categorizes each box or drawer by the shell name. This one is the SEMELE which she uses as the base to the dandelion and most of her shell flowers.

Semele seashell drawer

From here, I’m gonna let her tell you how everything else is done. Sit back, relax and let your imagination roll…

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How ’bout that, huh? Here’s a close up of the SEMELE she talked about ……

Semele seashell drawer closeup


Cross Barred venus Seashell

This is a dead PURPLE SEA URCHIN that washed up on the beach with some of it’s spines still attached.

Crab shell, Urchin, Fig and Sponge

This is a close up of Barb’s SEA URCHIN spines. That’s a lot of SEA URCHINS!

Sea Urchin spines

Thank you so much for the shell craft lesson, Barb! Can’t wait to see what you create for next year’s 75th Anniversary of Sanibel Shell Fair and Show.

Barb Walling ribbons


Imperfect Seashell Creativity

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Reading book on beach

I needed a little shelling pick-me-up yesterday since I’ve had “technical difficulties” in the blog world the last few days. Since the gulf has been a little rough caused by south winds, I thought I might find some goodies at Blind Pass.

Sanibel bare beach Blind Pass

The Sanibel side of Blind Pass was …well, empty of shells. Where’d they go?

Captiva beach erosion

I ran over to the Captiva side to find the beach with even a bigger drop-off than last week. Looked like nothing to me. There were a few people working the ledge but I decided to go back to the east end of Sanibel.

Bob Lucy Linda Captiva

On the way back to the parking lot, I met Bob, Lucy and Linda sorting their shells in the back of their car. I can’t believe they found all of these on that ledge I showed you. It looked bare to me.

blanket shells

Shame on me for not looking a little harder at that ledge. Look at these beautiful shells… and especially that large, perfect LIGHTNING WHELK on the left.

Sanibel beach

The surf was kicking up around the east end of Sanibel but the beach didn’t look like it was piled with shells. Then I started focusing on the wash line a little bit better since I learned my lesson and missed so many at Blind Pass. There were actually some nice shells…… and nice folks.

Sanibel shell Muriel

I met another Sani-Belle on the beach!  I met some of the Sani-Belle sisters and mom Mermaid Ella in January at Blind Pass (Click HERE for the post) so I was tickled to meet sister Sani-Belle Muriel too.

scallops, cross barred venus baby ear cockle

Like I said, there wasn’t a huge wrack of shells on the beach but she was still happy with what she was finding. I guess so! Look at that nice size BABY’S EAR! In her hand from left to right is a SCALLOP, a CARDITA, another SCALLOP, that big beautiful BABY’S EAR, a CROSS BARRED VENUS and a COCKLE.

Mermaid on the rocks

Mermaid Ella

This picture above was taken of Muriel’s 92 year old mom in January when I nicknamed her Mermaid Ella. I wanted to show you this photo again because most of the shells that Muriel and the other Sani-Belles collect are “materials” (that’s what they call the shells) for frames that Mermaid Ella makes. She showed me this one……

seashell frame by mermaid ella

Isn’t that beautiful? Shells don’t have to perfect to be beautiful. Imperfect is just as beautiful if you look at them in a different view like in this frame. This just makes me smile. And I also smile thinking of some other artists that make beautiful decor and jewelry from beach treasures…. perfect or not.

 Endless Sunner is so clever to design wine charms from seashells with holes in them…..

seashell winecharms

Tresor le Mer creates gorgeous pieces of art from beach treasures that someone else might consider to be beach “litter”…..

Tresor seawhip frame

Aptly named, An Imperfect Shell gives us that feeling of just coming off the beach in every design she makes….An Imperfect Shell

I love photography so I love to see how other artists capture the art of seashells. The Coastal Collection presents imperfect seashells in a whole new light….. sepia toned.

Coastal Collection

I also have another artist friend Rhonda from Shellebelle’s Tikihut that collects “drift shells” to make beautiful art frames too.

shellebelle's drift shells

So before I frown again and an “empty” beach, I’m going to remember Mermaid Ella and these other artists who get excited to see bits and pieces of shells on the beach. This is exactly what gets their creative juices flowing for their shellicious decor and jewelry. Thanks yall for the pick-me-up I really needed!

Val's iLS ornament

Val xo


Wiggle Waggle Brittle Star

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Clark found this BRITTLE STAR (also called SERPENT STAR) too close to the beach this weekend near Fulgur St so Clark tried to get him to deeper water but this little wiggle worm waggled his way right where he wanted to be.
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I also found a couple more of our shelling sisters on the Blind Pass bridge last week! I met Martha in February at Blind Pass on a thick foggy day but this time she brought Ginger with her on this gorgeous sunny day. Check that bad boy shelling scoop Ginger is holding up that her husband made for her.

Blind Pass bridge

Martha and Ginger

This place was hopping with Shelling Sisters. I saw Karen (Moshiemom) too on the Blind Pass bridge…… Come to think about it… it was foggy too the day I originally met her in February and posted her picture.  Beeep Beeep (okay, that was the backing up sound of a truck) Let’s back up. I just looked back and Karen and Claudette were here the same time as Martha. You Shelling Sistahs have got to meet since you are on the same shelling schedule!

Karen at Blind Pass Captiva

This is Karen aka “Moshiemom” last week at Blind Pass sfter finding some of the faves. She and Claudette were crossing the Blind Pass bridge too when I ran into them. De ja vu.

seashells by Karen

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Easter Colors Sanibel Style

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Easter Seashells

Everywhere I looked last night, I saw the colors of Easter… in seashells.

Easter Sanibel sky…..and in the sky

Easter coconuts…..and around the palm trees.

sister shell seekers

As we “hopped” around to the lighthouse beach filling up our Easter shell basket, I ran into sisters Carol and Gail finding goodies for their basket (errr, shell bag ;)).

Carol Sanibel shells

It was their last night on Sanibel and Carol finally found her first WENTLETRAP at the lighthouse beach. Yippee! Congrats!

Lace Murex in sand

I found sweet little LACE MUREX.

Dusky cone on sea pork

And I found this cute little DUSKY CONE on a piece of SEA PORK. It looks like an Easter egg broke and the yoke spilled everywhere, doesn’t it?

Aimee fighting conchs

Then we hopped on over to the beach off Middle Gulf Dr. and met Aimee (too shy to have her picture taken) where she found three of these FIGHTING CONCHS so I added the one furthest down in her palm. Look at how cool it is since it has a “freak” growth pattern.

banded tulip Sanibel shell

Even the BANDED TULIPS had a hint of pink for Easter.

paper fig seashell beach

Happy Easter! Good wishes for you all to shellebrate the day.

Pastel sky


Turner Beach Sanibel Island

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Turner Beach Sanibel

I always call this beach Blind Pass with a little note if it’s the Sanibel side or the Captiva side to explain where the shells are. But actually, the official name of the beach on both the Captiva side and Sanibel side is Turner Beach and the waterway that separates them is named Blind Pass. So if I called the beaches by the official name of Turner Beach, I’d still have to explain which side. Geez, shelling isn’t complicated so why complicate the beach names. I just like to wrap it all in one little package and call it all Bind Pass. Easy peazy, right?

Kenny Marisa Lisa beach family

Kenny, Marisa and Lisa from Ohio could have cared less what the name of the beach was, they thought the shelling was “awesome”.

Seashells at Turner beach Sanibel

They were having a ball plucking these juvenile FIGHTING CONCH shells right out of the surf.

Blind Pass Captiva Erosion

I walked over the bridge to see what the Captiva side of the beach looked like…. nuttin’ honey. The high tide is starting to cut into the sand on the beach. No worries, it could be back tomorrow. This beach changes sooo quickly. Click HERE to scroll through pictures of the changes of Blind Pass.

Orange scallop seashell

So I walked back over the bridge to the Sanibel side and the first thing I saw was this pretty little bright orange SCALLOP shell. There was a fairly high tide at somewhere around plus 2 (the sand bar was covered with water) and pretty calm with temps in the 80s. Paradise. So I had to take a little video. Nothing fancy but I just had to share the warmth with the sounds of the water rushing over shells.

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Categories : Blind Pass
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Periwinkle, Lewis And Beau Seashells

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Beau's Vitrinella

Beau's Vitrinella

While looking for minis at the Lighthouse Beach on Sanibel this past week, I ran across a shell I never noticed before. This little guy is a BEAU’S VITRINELLA and it’s only 3/8 of an inch big. It was near the area I was finding WENTLETRAPS, TUSKS, and BABY’S EARS so I was very focused on the small shells. Beau's Vitrinella aperture

It’s a pretty little shell so I will definitely be on the lookout for more of them now that I know the shape, pattern and can call it something other than “cutie little guy that looks like a flattened tiny white button shell”.

Sandy Vitrinella

This is what it looked like on the beach when I found the VITRINELLA.

Periwinkle snail

I also found this shell that measures about an inch at the lighthouse beach. I thought it could be faded PERIWINKLE but just to be sure it wasn’t a tree snail or something, I asked my land snail friend H.L. Lori if she knew what it was. Without seeing the shell in person, she thought it looked about right to be a PERIWINKLE. Thanks, HL!

Mangrove Periwinkle

This is another view after I brought it home.

Mangrove Periwinkle

It looks like a MANGROVE PERIWINKLE, doesn’t it?

Lewis Moon Snail

Since I’m on the seashell identification kick, I thought I’d show you this shell too. Let me make this clear… this is not a Sanibel area shell. This was a gift from Terri and Dennis who found it where they live… around the Seattle, WA area. I didn’t know what to call this one either so I asked my California shell friend Scott R. to identify it for me (thanks, Scott!). He says it’s a LEWIS MOON SNAIL and it’s the largest MOON SNAIL in the world. It’s about 4 inches wide. It’s huge!

aqua table display

I found a great home for it right beside the shell sculpture Carla from Love Letters From The Sea blog.

West coast Sand Dollars

Terri and Dennis also brought quite a few SAND DOLLARS from the Pacific. They are just as beautiful as our Sanibel SAND DOLLARS but they don’t have the slits like ours. Thank you Terri and Dennis!  I found a nice home for them as well….right beside our CARIBBEAN CONCHS and other shells we found in Belize 2009 .

Sand Dollar display