Are you looking for unique and golden ratio based coastal wall art & decor? Then check out these 12 types of seashells I used to create floral and coastal art shaped as visual poems.
Many years ago I decided to get rid of all of my print books and switch to an e-book reader. I was tired from carrying heavy books whenever I moved and while I did switch to an e-book reader in the end, there were a few books I couldn’t part with. One of these was a seashell encyclopedia. At the time, that was my only book on the topic and while I could find online just about anything I could desire as a seashell collector, I kept the printed version for those times when I had enough screen time and enough ugliness surrounding me and I just needed some quiet time to see something really beautiful. I also kept two exotic seashells I bought during college: a beige Murex shell with lots of spines and a dusty red Turritella shell.
Fast forward to 2022, my seashell collection grew and so did my awareness on where I source them from. I was never in the habit of picking lots of them when beachcombing, but I was unaware of the industry that exists behind the seashell trade which sources them while still alive. I was under the false impression that all the shells found in tourist shops by the seaside were simply beachcombed after the mollusks died anyway.
The seashells I used below were partly picked by me and partly bought and here is a list of 12 common and not so common types of seashells I used to design coastal wall art & decor you may not have heard of.
1. The Japanese wonder shell
I’ll start with my favorite one: Thatcheria mirabilis or the Japanese wonder shell. I initially saw this seashell on the cover of the aforementioned encyclopedia. I have just one such seashell which I bought from a small Japanese island called Miyajima which is very close to Hiroshima. By the way, shima or 島 in Japanese means island and Miyajima is the place to go in Japan if you’re a seashell collector. While naturally a yellowish white or beige shell, I painted mine with blue acrylic paint. Here are some concrete poems in which I used the Japanese wonder shell as the Ikebana vase from which the lyrics flow.
2. The triumphant star turban shell
Guildfordia triumphans or the triumphant star turban shell is another shell I bought from that small Japanese island. I kept it in its natural dusty pink color, but in some poems it appears blue because I added a digital filter when I designed those. I used it to decorate a lid from a box (you can see the box with its lid in one of the poems from the collection below if you click on it) and after photographing that box, I used that cropped outline in many other poems.
3. The Turritella shell
Turritella is actually a family of seashells, the common denominator being their very tightly coiled shells. I have just one such seashell which was originally dusty red in color. I vaguely remember I bought it many years ago from the Romanian coast of the Black Sea. In the end, I used acrylic paint to change its natural, warm color to a gradient color palette starting from chocolate brown to a cappuccino beige shade. You can see the result below.
4. The Murex snail shell
While most snails we call murex are part of the Muricidae family, many were regrouped in other genera. I used two such sculptural seashells in my poems, one with brown stripes in its natural color palette and another one I painted in blue. I sometimes added a blue digital filter to the brown Murex shell.
Mussels are very common along the Black Sea shoreline. I mostly used them as details in the concrete poems because their elongated shape resembles leaves, but there are some poems in which I used one mussel as the main vase from which the coastal Ikebana arrangement emerges. I also used mussels to make an iris flower by gluing them around a tiny bottle, as you can see with the iris bud from the collection below.
During the last years, I found more and more scallops along the Black Sea shoreline and I don’t remember seeing any when I was a child. I’m not sure about the cause of it, but I’m sure these are beautiful seashells and I used them whenever I needed to make use of their fan shape. The blue ones featured in the poems below were painted with acrylics and the cream beige ones still hold their natural color.
7. The rapa whelk shell
Rapana venosa is a predatory snail from the Muricidae family mentioned above, but I count it separately due to its subtle color and even smoother surface compared to the usual Murex shell full of spines. It is almost impossible to take a walk along the Black Sea shoreline and not find one of these shells.
8. The precious wentletrap shell
There are a couple of very tiny pink Epitonium seashells I found along the Black Sea shoreline which I used as poetic elements, but its larger relative depicted here, Epitonium scalare or the precious wentletrap, is a seashell I bought from Japan. It is naturally a subtle white to beige or even pink. The blue version you see below was achieved with a digital filter I applied after photographing it.
9. The harp shell
I’m not sure about the precise name of the species, but this is definitely a harp shell. I bought it from Japan and I painted the shell in chocolate brown, decorating its vertical ribs with a layer of cappuccino beige acrylic paint. It was already brown, but its natural pattern was a bit spottier and I think it looks better with this clear color palette of just two shades of brown. It is one of my favorites and I used it in many visual poems.
The clam is a staple of the Black Sea shoreline. I used clams in their natural color, but I also made a blue painted lotus flower out of them as you can see in the shape poem from the collection below. Some clams I used were from Japan.
11. The queen conch
I bought this conch from Japan and given its pink color and typical shape, it is probably a queen conch. The one I have was a bit broken and given its size, it was probably an adult when harvested. In my poems I only used its top part as seen in a cross section because it resembles a flower and I thought that works well in an Ikebana arrangement. I sometimes added a blue digital filter to create the illusion of blue flowers.
I’ve been walking on sand so many times without knowing there are microshells hidden there. I found about their existence from that seashell encyclopedia I mentioned in the beginning and once I started looking at sand with a glass magnifier, I was amazed by the sculptural shapes I found. Many of these species are probably not even described. Here are a couple of concrete poems in which I included many such microshells.
The list of seashells I used just came to an end. You may not have heard about some of the lesser known seashells mentioned above, or did you? Which is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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