Monday 11 July 2016

She Sells Seashells.... by Claudia

Servus, welcome and good to see you back!

Claudia here today (as usual on Mondays) to bring to you another Calico Craft Parts tutorial.

I know, I's a kind of marine theme again...but this time I rather thought of collections of seashells and other marine species in a museum (so it really is an off-shore project to be precise ;).

Imagine escaping the summer heat by entering the Natural History Museum to strive the gigantic and beautifully decorated halls with all the display cabinets filled with tableaus with stunning beetles, butterflies, semi-precious stones, seeds,...and a lot of other fascinating elements and specimen you haven't even heard of yet.

To me that being presented in file of all those little wonders has something very appealing and I tried to create a little tableau that is meant to capture a bit of this feel.

Calico Craft Parts used:

- Notched Rectangle Birch Ply Wood Plaque - 150 x 72 mm
- Sheet of Mini MDF Nautical Motifs - Style 6 
- Sheet of Mini MDF Label Holders Wood Shapes

I started with arranging my label holders and sea shell wood shapes on the ply wood plaque until I was content:

Then I painted the label holders with DecoArt "Iced Espresso" Metallic Lustre.

The ply wood plaque was given a coat of DecoArt Americana "relic" Chalky Finish paint...

...and toned down with a wash of DecoArt media Quinacridone Gold once the paint was dry.

The shells were first given a dry brushed coat of a mix of white DecoArt media Gesso and Raw Sienna fluid acrylic:

It is important that you rather dry brush than paint the Craft Parts because too much paint would sink into all the crevices and that way beautiful detail would get lost!

The first layer was followed by a layer of loosely brushed on Titanium White.

After that it was time for my favourite part: painting the shells in those typical lovely "shell" colours.

I only used four different colours and mixed these to get more shades. I took an image of my palette for you so you can see which colours were mixed and how (for a larger view simply click on the images): I added some of the Transparent Red Iron Oxide to the Raw Sienna for an orange tone. Raw Umber was used to paint the shades. Titanium White was mainly used for highlights and also mixed with traces of Transparent Red Iron Oxide to get the soft pink for the shell's inside.

I wasn't too precise with the details, but I used a book with shells images for reference. But I mainly followed my guts and mixed and painted away until I was content.

As my label holders turned out to be too shiny for my dusty museum tableau, I toned them down with DecoArt media Carbon Black Antiquing Cream (that I only partially removed after it had dried).

I cut some labels from white cardboard and toned them down with a very light wash of Raw Sienna.

Once they were dry I wrote the shells' names onto them using an extra fine tip black china ink marker. Then the labels were glued behind the label holders' backs and everything was ready to be mounted to the plaque (using DecoArt matte Decou-Page).

For a finishing touch the edges of the plaque were inked with black archival stamping ink using a piece of blending foam.

Et voilá! 

Some close ups of the painted shells (just in case you want to use them for guidance on painting your own):

Thanks for stopping by (and thank you all so much for the many wondeful comments on my last project! I was totally overwhelmed by the fantastic response! Mwah! XXX). I hope you like my little collection. But then: who does not love to collect and look at sea shells?!

Hugs and happy crafting,


  1. It's amazing Claudia !!!! thnak you for the tuto

  2. I love the Natural History Museum. One of my friends is a member and she takes me to the Members' Room for a cup of tea! It's such a beautiful Victorian room with a high ceiling. This project is a perfect evocation of that Victorian delight in collecting and displaying beautiful 'curiosities' from the natural world. You are always so original, Claudia. This is a great way to use the craft parts xx

    1. Yes, we (my son, husband and I) love to spend a long afternoon at the Natural History Museum here in Vienna and of course we had to visit the NHM in London too and spent a whole day there (well, It is such a beautiful building (as is ours here in Vienna) and I just love all the collections of all those wonders. It makes you feel very small (and puts you in the right place in a way, doesn't it?) - but in a good way.

      Thanks for the lovely comment, Julie Ann! Mwah! XXX

  3. Eine wunderschöne Ergänzung für eine maritime Homedeco und sorgt garantiert für das richtige Sommerfeeling,davon kann man nie genug bekommen :-) Many thanks for this gorgeous inspiration!

    1. Recht herzlichen Dank, liebe Kerstin!
      Liebe Grüße,
      Claudia xxx

  4. Simply brilliant paintwork to bring those shells to life.
    Alison x