Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Since both my husband and I love the ocean, we agreed that ocean and water themed... stuff... could decorate most of our home. But we'd rather use money on things like food, petrol, and possibly plane tickets back to the U.S. at some point. Enter sea detritus (and also, lack of silly bits of crap cluttering our house for the sake of decorating).

On our walks on the beach we've been collecting shells. Nice ones, not so nice ones, ones that are old and worn, ones that are new and unbleached from the sun just yet, big ones, small ones, odd and ordinary. I've also amassed a few sea sponges and some rather nice cuttlefish bones, along with some interesting stones.

It's taken close to four weeks of slow work of cleaning everything (since I have other things to do around the house, or spend time just lounging with my husband). Mostly because I really don't want something decorating our house to smell like rotten fish and stale ocean. And if I'm going to do something, I might as well do it right, right?

Anywho, it's a long process of soaking in boiling soapy water, scrubbing with a toothbrush,

removing any living creatures (only happened once when a whole bunch of snails and two very tiny starfish were living in a big shell my husband found for me), and sand. Then soaking some in bleach and others in mentholated alcohol, depending on what TYPE of shell it is and some other boring stuff. Then more rinsing in water.
Most of them got a small rub-down with some baby oil, enough so that they have just the tiniest bit of shine to them, or so that the colors stand out like they do when the shell is ALMOST dry (going for natural looking here, just nicer when you don't have something trying to pretend to be something it's not). Sea sponges got rinsed. A LOT. They're like giant ocean filters, so they pick up and hold a ton of dirt, sand, bacteria, and plant life. So most of them got a slight dip in bleach (since they're old and sun-bleached, none of them have the pretty natural colors like they do when they're alive) and another immediate rinse.

After a few days of drying, they were put into old Moccona instant coffee jars (since I'm not paying for any apothecary jars at this point, and these look fine anyway) and used as decorative pieces in our otherwise bare home.

Why all this work instead of just buying shells and a jar? One, because it's cheaper. Two, I like the more... natural way of it. They aren't super shined-up shells that we bough. Three, they are things that we've collected while on long walks on the beach talking. Together. Some slightly more meaningful knick-knacks.

And they can easily be switched out for new shells or sea life (once we get
another empty jar, I plan on filling it with just the cuttlefish bones), and can either sit and look pretty, or have a purpose.
Right now, they're doing a lovely job as book ends.

Also, these are just plain fun for me to look at. When I was little, I remember my grandma had a large jar FULL of things she'd collected on her various trips to beaches.
All sorts of shells I loved to take out and sort, different bits of coral, and even a rock that showed little fossils on it when you got it wet. These are kind of a nice little reminder
of that.

And if you've never read "At the Scent of Water", I HIGHLY recommend it. It's an amazing story.

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