Shell Mosaic Story


I moved to Sanibel Island, Florida, from Illinois in 2015. I love nothing more than strolling the beaches here and found myself with a growing collection of seashells. What to do with them? I can’t remember exactly how the idea came to me, but I have always been drawn to mosaics, circles, labyrinths, mandalas, and the like. One day I was browsing a local thrift shop, saw the plates, and I knew what I was supposed to do. Not previously thinking of myself as a creative person, I suddenly was flooded with ideas and a desperate need to create. So I ordered some mosaics glue off of Amazon and got busy.

I begin by collecting seashells on the beautiful beaches of Sanibel Island, Florida. I prefer to do my collecting at sunrise and ideally during low tide. This is a meditative and healing time for me, strolling the water line looking for shells that catch my eye. I rarely have a specific shell variety in mind and never know what I’ll find. When I find something special, I can’t help but smiling. What are the chances of finding any one shell on an entire stretch of beach. Such fun!

After arriving home, I rinse the shells and soak them overnight for cleaning. The next day, I arrange the shells on towels to dry and sort them into containers by shell variety, color, and size. I love this part of the process. Seeing the variety and beauty of all of the shells I’ve collected that day brings me such joy! Just this past week I collected so many purple coquinas, I couldn’t stop smiling as I was arranging them, overwhelmed by their beauty and uniqueness. I had over 50 purple coquinas and no two were exactly the same in shade, design, or size. What abundance!

Meanwhile, I stop by Sanibel Island’s Noah’s Ark Thrift Shop regularly looking for plates. I love finding single plates that have been languishing on a back shelf with no one interested in taking them home. I look for a combination of simple, one-color plates and also those with varied colors and designs. At this point, I have no particular plans for a plate, I just sense I’m supposed to take it home and turn it into something beautiful.

After arriving home, I place a plate on my kitchen table and ask for inspiration. Sometimes while talking to the plate, sometimes while in the shower, and sometimes just out of the blue, a design comes to me. It’s rarely the entire design, but I get started, arranging and glueing as I go. I stop when I feel I am supposed to stop. I walk away when I feel I am supposed to walk away. And I know I’m done when the plate tells me it’s done.

Finally, I place the plate on a stand in the center of my kitchen table to admire for a few days. Every time I walk by the plate, I smile and my heart fills with love. I had no idea this kind of thing was inside of me!

I sincerely hope these plates bring you the same joy and serenity they have me.