How to go about Painting Sea Shells

Painting Sea Shells

Painting your sea shells is fast, fun and almost impossible to mess up! Grab a few supplies and bring your imagination ! Let’s create and have fun !!

I am going to tell you a few ways I go about painting my sea shells. There are several ways you can paint your sea shells, depending on what project you are working on and what look you are going for.

Gather some shells and inspect them for any cracks and chips.

 If you come across any deep cracks or chipped ones, set them aside for a different project. Any cracks or chips in them could create an uneven painting surface, which could make the shell harder to paint.

Clean your shells, if necessary.

Rinse them using warm water, and scrub them gently with an old toothbrush.  If the shells are  smelly, leave them in a bleach solution for up to 24 hours. Keep in mind that the bleach may also turn the shells pure white. You should rinse the shells after soaking them in your bleach solution. There is also another post on this website about  ‘How to clean sea shells from beach.’

If you are using store-bought shells, then you don’t have to clean them. A simple rinse may be a good idea to get rid of any dust that might be on them.



Paints I use for my Sea Shells

Spray the shells. You can use a clear or a satin-finish polyurethane (comes in a spray and can.) You can even coat your shell with clear nail polish. 

Or you can use a paintbrush to brush mineral oil over your seashells. Make sure you get in every crack and crevice. Then set the seashells on a few paper towels to dry.

These types of finish preserves the shell’s organic look while giving it an extra glossy shine. Do one side of the shell each day. Allow the shell to dry completely before starting on the other side. Each side can take about a day to dry.

Paints I do by hand.  

I also use  acrylic paints, with and without glitter in them. Your choice, your project.

*Remember to use paints in a well ventilated area. Outside.

Get a good quality brush.

Choose a brush with fine bristles. Avoid brushes that are made with horsehair or boar bristles, they will leave behind brush strokes. I also avoid using bushes that have bent or messed-up bristles.

Consider having an assortment of brushes, such as a flat brush and a fine-pointed, round-tipped brush. These brushes are all you really need for your shells.





Then find your Dremel!







You could use any drill but I find the hand held Dremel is very easy to use. I have a 1/8 inch drill bit in it and its just the right size for threading my cord or ribbon when the painting is complete. You can add some beads in between your shells if you wish or add other kinds of sea shells to your project. Which I have done both of in the pictures above. A Dremel tool is versatile because of the many kinds of attachments it can use to do different jobs. One thing you can use it for is to drill holes in seashells to make jewelry or hanging shell decorations. A Precision Pin will work also.


Certain Products can seen and purchased on the “Review” Section on this website.

Please be careful and take safety precautions when drilling holes in shells,pieces of shells can fly about. Wear a pair of safety glasses!

Do not take any shells with sea creatures alive in them. Be considerate of nature and leave seashells with live creatures in them alone. You can tell a shell is still alive if you turn it over and there is a creature inside it.

  • Check with your country’s laws to ensure you don’t collect illegal seashells. For example, in U.S. waters, Queen Conches are illegal to take. They are a protected species due it being vulnerable to over-fishing.

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