I am so excited to show you how easy it is to make this Oyster Shell Mirror…or any seashell mirror DIY – seriously easy! And truthfully, it’s all about how to glue shells to wood…
With a few exceptions, I have always lived on the coast. My dad was a submariner in the US Navy and well…submariners need to be where the deep water is. So I lived a blessed childhood growing up in places like Hawaii, Guam, Charleston, SC and San Diego, CA. When Terry and I moved to Nashville, TN for a job, I was pretty excited to live ‘kind of’ in the ‘heartland’. And while I loved Nashville, I always felt a little like a fish out of water so when the opportunity came, we went back to the shore and will probably always live close to the ocean.
Guess that makes me a mermaid of sorts.
All this to say, while I wouldn’t say I am a full-on ‘coastal decor’ gal, I do welcome those pops of the sea scattered throughout our home so you will find a few oyster shell crafts here and there……
For several years I’ve been hankering for an Oyster Shell Mirror. I’ve seen them at various stores, but could never justify the hefty price tag. This one is the perfect size, but I couldn’t quite swallow the $1,000+ ticket.
Since I had many bushels of oysters from a past project sitting in my garage, the seed (or pearl?) was planted that I could make one myself.
And since I just never really loved the stenciled mirror I made several months ago, I had the round piece of wood with a mirror in the middle. With those two critical oyster shell mirror ‘ingredients’ sitting in my home, it was just a matter of taking the time to put 2 and 2 together.
I started this project months ago, but it just wasn’t coming together for me. I was using E6000 glue which I find useful for most things, but it just wasn’t ideal for this project. Who knew gluing shells to wood could be so difficult? I needed something that was tacky and stiff enough to hold the shells in place while I moved them to where I wanted and that was also easy to apply. After going through 2 tubes of E6000 on only 1/4 of the mirror, I knew I needed to find a different adhesive. Clearly the key to success here was figuring out how to glue seashells to wood! Challenge accepted!
And while I was noodling adhesives, this mirror with a few oyster shells glued around it lay in the garage, dodging cars and bikes and a teenage boy on his way to the spare fridge. Shockingly, it refused to break…which was a constant reminder to me that Kismet wanted me to figure it out.
I initially thought of plaster of Paris, but was afraid that would add weight that I didn’t really want on something that was going to hang on the wall. So then just what is the best glue for a seashell mirror?
So I took a trip to my hardware store and met my new BFF Larry. We weighed all sorts of options and finally settled upon a quart of TEC Stick N Stay which is primarily used in flooring. It was easy to apply and after 24-48 hours, my oyster shells stayed in place. (That being said, make sure your surface isn’t slick at all…I had some places that had metallic paint that just didn’t have enough ‘tooth’ for the adhesive to grip to. I sanded those areas after I realized why the adhesive just wasn’t gripping there. You can see what I’m talking about in the video below.)
In terms of where to find oyster shells, you can surely buy them online…but, if you’re willing to work just a wee bit, you might be able to get them for free. If you have a fish market or restaurant that sells shucked oysters, call to see if you can collect the shells. Our fish markets have piles outside their back door that they are more than willing to let me pick through.
What I Used for a 36″ Oyster Shell Mirror
- 400-500 cleaned oyster shells. I soaked them in bleach water and then scrubbed any yuck off. I then let them dry in the sun for a couple of days.
- You won’t use all 400-500, in fact, you’ll only need about half that, but that should give you more than enough to pick through for the right sizes/shapes.
- Plywood in the shape you want
- Heavy-duty Picture Hangers
- Mirror in the size and shape you want
- TEC Stick n Stay, 1 quart is all I needed for this project and I have about 1/3 of the quart remaining. You can find it in the flooring department of your hardware store. This is the best glue for a seashell mirror that I could find. It made the project so very easy and easily accomplished in a morning…granted, I started at 6 a.m.
- Small trowel or like this putty knife
We get most of our building supplies, like the plywood and putty knife I used, at Home Depot. They have a wonderful program by which you can order here online and then pick-up at your nearest store within hours or at your convenience.
How I Made My Oyster Shell Mirror
- It’s easier if you attach your hanging hardware on to the back of your wood before your put your oysters on…ask me how I know!
- Make sure your wood is clean and primed. I had some leftover silver paint on parts of mine and the adhesive really didn’t want to stick there. I had to go back in and sand that part after the oysters still weren’t sticking several days later.
- Placing the oysters on the mirror is best likened to putting a puzzle together. I wanted them to get bigger in size as I went out from the middle, but not all oyster shells ‘layer’ with each other well. This is why it’s a good thing to have more than you need so that you can pick and chose the ones that work best.
- To glue the shells to the wood, I put a good glob of the Stick n Stay on the parts of the oyster shell that would be touching the board or other shells.
- This video shows how I made the oyster shell mirror
- When all the oysters were in place, I glued ‘tiny white cup shells’ (yup, that’s the name) along the edge of the mirror to finish it off.
I LOVE THIS MIRROR!!!! It really turned out so much better than I had hoped and was really easy to make.
It took me several hours, I spent one full morning on it…but it really was quite fun figuring out what shell would work where…like I said, it was a bit of a puzzle. And it is the perfect dash of coastal that I wanted in our bedroom.
Pin it for your future reference. And, if you are looking for more oyster shell projects, here are ten DIY oyster shell crafts for you.
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