From beach to shelf: how to organize your seashell collection

From beach to shelf: how to organize your seashell collection, sea life, shelling, shell collecting, shell crafts, sea shells, seashell art, seashell projects, what to do with sea shells, marine biology aesthetic, seashells aesthetic, organize collection, organizer ideas, collection organizing, small home organization ideas, minimalism, minimalist interior, seashell display ideas, collection display, seashell collector, keepsake box, gift box, wooden box, memory box, lip balm, microshells, mason jar, water bottle, marine Ikebana, seashell label organization notepad, minimalist coastal home decor

Do you collect seashells? Then don’t let clutter take over your space and learn how to organize your seashell collection.

From beach to shelf: how to organize your seashell collection, sea life, shelling, shell collecting, shell crafts, sea shells, seashell art, seashell projects, what to do with sea shells, marine biology aesthetic, seashells aesthetic, organize collection, organizer ideas, collection organizing, small home organization ideas, minimalism, minimalist interior, seashell display ideas, collection display, seashell collector, keepsake box, gift box, wooden box, memory box, lip balm, microshells, mason jar, water bottle, marine Ikebana, seashell label organization notepad

I am a seashell collector myself and throughout the years, I learned how to organize my collection both in terms of storage and display.

You may also find this blog post useful if you collect rocks, fossils, coins, sea glass or other small items, but I will focus on shells because this is what I like and what I collect 🙂

My available storage space is tiny. Coupled with being a minimalist, this naturally limited my seashell collection.

And like most seashell collectors, I collect seashells for their aesthetic, but your purpose may be different. Whether you collect seashells for crafts, art, aesthetic value, scientific purposes or even to resell them, you need to read this blog post in order to save time and space.

Here are some things to consider given your purpose of collecting shells and other factors related to the shells themselves:

Do you want to store them, display them or both?

I store most of my seashells in different types of containers in one shelf only and I display some of them by rotation.

If you mainly need to store your shells, it is very important to use an opaque container in order to keep the light out because light will make the colors fade.

You may also choose a transparent container if you want to immediately find a specific shell in your collection or if you want to both display and store your shells, but on the long term and if you care about their natural color patterns, it is best to keep them away from light.

If the container has a lid, you will also protect your shells from dust and your fingers 🙂

Here is a seashell display idea which could fit in a beach house or a regular home with coastal vibes. I designed this mason jar on a platform called Zazzle (if you click on the image, that is where the link will take you). The image and the text are fully customizable at no extra charge to you.

I designed this blue iris coastal mason jar as a clutter-free way to display beautiful seashells or small decorative objects. You can easily change the “home sweet home” text, the background color (which is currently set to none) and you can transfer this design to any different product from the Zazzle platform.

But apart from whether you mainly want to store or display your shells, there is another important factor to take into consideration when choosing a container.

What is the size and/or shape of the seashells from your collection?

These things matter if the shells are to fit the container of your choice.

In order to avoid keeping them loose, you also don’t want to put small shells in a big container. Besides, it’s a waste of space.

I collect regularly sized seashells, but also microshells and I group them by size, place of origin and on whether they were bought or beachcombed by me.

If you are also one of the rare people who collects microshells, here is an example of a tiny container in which I store them: a lip balm past being used for its initial purpose. I also like to store sewing needles in lip balm containers, but that’s a different story.

The lip balm below features a typical marine Ikebana bouquet made of a blue iris sculpture, some green foliage in the background, a white seashell cut like a leaf and one of my favorite seashells which I bought from Japan: the precious wentletrap or Epitonium scalare.

Apart from tiny containers for microshells, I store larger seashells in keepsake boxes like the one below. The lid from this box features a visual poem written by me, called “Scar Collector”. The poem itself is a play on words between how a pearl is formed by an irritant entering the mollusk shell, the growth process of a typical shell (larger ones being older) and how we, humans, accumulate scars, both physical and mental, as we grow up and grow older.

The marine Ikebana artwork is similar to a Japanese Ikebana flower arrangement, but instead of plant material, I use seashells and lyrics. The graphical part of the poem includes many shells, among them a blue painted part of my favorite seashell: Thatcheria mirabilis or the Japanese wonder shell.

I also store some seashells in wide mouth bottles. The one below features another visual poem written by me, called “The Ink Pot”. The shape and the lyrics of this poem assemble a metaphor of nostalgia flowing from an ink pot I found at home. In my time, fountain pens is what we used to write with during primary school and finding that ink pot brought back so many memories from my childhood.

Meanwhile, for both practical and environmental reasons, I quit using ballpoint pens and I got back to using a fountain pen which I periodically refill from an ink pot 🙂

And speaking of fountain pens and writing, here comes the last thing to take into consideration when organizing your seashell collection.

Do you need to keep proper records for each shell?

If you collect seashells for scientific purposes or if you specialize in rare shells which you may want to sell one day, it is important to maintain proper records for each seashell.

In practice, this means storing a card or a label with each shell and/or keeping a computer database for your whole seashell collection.

To save you time, I created a design template for the shelling notepad below. The notepad has 40 easy tear-away pages and the design is printed on each page.

The shelling notepad includes text fields for the date and the location of the find, who found the shell, weather conditions during the find and any other comments you may want to jot down, including the name of the species if you know it or if you can find it.

You can customize the text fields, change the rectangle color or the background color (which is currently set to none). You can either delete the text that reads “seashell name or identifier” or customize it with the name of your seashell collection or a specific name of a part of it, like a certain group of shells.

And with that being said, we reached the end of this blog post on how to organize your seashell collection. Now it’s your turn: how do you store or display your seashells? I’d love to hear from you in a comment below!

12 types of seashells I used to create coastal wall art & decor you may not have heard of

12 types of seashells I used to create coastal wall art & decor you may not have heard of, home decoration, coastal home, interior, apartment aesthetic, sea shells, seashell wall art, home decor ideas, wall decor, desk decor, living room decor ideas, blue aesthetic, blue beige brown living room, wabi sabi style, poems about self growth, my dream house, modern coastal living room, beach house, coastal style

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.

12 types of seashells I used to create 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 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.

5. Mussels

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.

6. Scallops

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.

10. Clams

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.

12. Microshells

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!

Free Vitamin Sea And The Premium Blue Space Effect

If you’re reading this blog post, most likely you live on the blue planet as well and you need vitamin sea more than you think.

I’ve been living my whole childhood near water as I gazed through the window from my blue-decorated room filled with 4 aquariums at a time (yes, four!) and when I moved to a big, crowded, landlocked city I didn’t know what was missing, even as I had all the cognitive stimulation I craved for so long. Unfortunately, I still don’t live near water for reasons that I can’t fully control, but I schedule time to be around or in water as much as possible.

Blue planet image to underline the importance of the blue space effect and vitamin sea for human health
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay 

Blue spaces include any body of water such as a fountain, a hot spring, a pond, a lake, even a sea or an ocean if you live in a coastal area. Being near them for extended periods of time has several health benefits:

  • You are more likely to walk if the space around you is beautiful, wide and open. If you walk more, you are less likely to mismanage your weight.
  • You are likely to breath better from all the mist of a water environment, especially if you breathe in that salty sea breeze.
  • Your mental health is likely to be better overall whether that is due to the sense of calm blue spaces induce when being around them or due to the increased rate of water-related activities such as swimming, surfing or sailing.
Sailing boat image to underline the importance of vitamin sea and the blue space health benefits effect
Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

The impact of all these premium health benefits on humans describe the blue health effect and ever since I found a name for it, I not only took the liberty to go to the seaside more often, I also took this into consideration when creating my type of art: marine Ikebana poetry.

Here are the blue space effects I took into consideration while creating my art:

  1. I care about mental health preservation and improvement so I didn’t want my art to shock people or induce disgust. At most, I wanted it to make people reflect on things they may find uncomfortable, sometimes by using complex words, but the visual aspect should never be ugly or disgusting and the overall effect of my art should be to induce calmness. Hence when creating my compositions, I frequently used the golden ratio, lots of open spaces, the wabi sabi philosophy and I included a bit of blue in just about every visual poem I wrote and published.
  2. Not only that I used blue in all of my poems, but the designs themselves are inspired by the seaside, namely the Black Sea coastline which I go to so often. I can’t always stay overnight, but I often go there just to walk a couple of hours by the seaside, be it summer or winter, sunshine or rain or snow, I don’t care. Most of the seashells used in these visual poems were collected from the Black Sea, albeit a few of them were bought from Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
  3. The cleaner the water, the more intense the blue space effect can be. This is the reason for which I brainstormed a lot while soul searching in defining my type of art and a first solution I found was to manufacture everything as print on demand to avoid filling the world with unwanted books, art prints, home décor objects, merchandise or gifts. I already used this business model when releasing my previous three books on gerontology and this time, I wanted to try it in the art field as well.
  4. I don’t wish people spend even more time in front of their computers than they already do for work or leisure or both. Those short walks by the seaside I take are truly one of the rare cases when I’m truly offline and I get so refreshed not only from that fresh salty air, the exercise I get from walking a couple of hours, but also from all the new ideas I get. It is way too easy to be attracted by the digital realm and forget how to inhabit your body and reflect on life. Hence I took the decision to offer my creations as print only. Even if you can view or buy them online, you don’t have to spend time in front of a screen in order to enjoy the hardcover photo book series, the art prints or the homeware.

Some people may dream about reaching for the stars, but reaching for the seaside is good enough for me.
How about you?

Share this post to spread the word!

Black Sea coastline, photo taken by author

How to collect art when you’re a minimalist renter

miniatures, minimalism, art collector, 3d printing

True, collections can get out of hand. Collections can be a huge mess you leave behind. But collections can also make you appreciate art in a tactile way and they allow you to support the artists who made those pieces of artwork possible.
For a long time, I was window-shopping art galleries and antiquities shops. Sometimes, I found way too many beautiful objects. But I avoided to buy anything. Not because I was a scrooge or because I didn’t like the artwork enough, but because I was a renter. Moving from place to place is a hassle. Especially when you switch cities. And after a couple of moves, I remembered that hassle all too well. I managed to find an alternative for my huge collection of paperbacks: an ebook reader. I now read more than ever. But I never managed to find an alternative to visual artwork.
A partial one, yes and its name is Pinterest. But this was not enough for the two reasons I mentioned above: visual art can be experienced differently when you can also touch it. It’s the same with books – I read lots of ebooks, but I’ll still buy print books when I stumble upon a gem of a book. I also wanted to support artists so that I could somehow pay back the experience that they offered me by putting their soul into whatever they created.
When finally there was a solution for all that. It works even if you’re a renter or a minimalist or both. The solution is buying miniature art only and storing it in one easy-to-carry keepsake box.

The world of art is a big one and whatever passes as art is in the eye of the beholder. Having said that, the world of miniatures is full of niches just like the ‘normal’ art world. Just add the word ‘miniature’ in your favorite search engine followed by the keywords depicting your favorite art and/or topic.

Before you do that, here are a couple of types of miniatures:
-miniature sculpture
-miniature painting
-miniature dioramas and scale models
-dollhouses include lots of miniature furniture and other types of interior design objects
-miniature dolls or action figures
-miniature glassware
-miniature pottery
-miniature lapidary art where tiny gemstones are carved into all sorts of scintillating shapes
-miniature floral arrangements like Ikebana
-miniature origami
-miniature resin art
-miniature woodworking
-miniature textile arts like rugs, tapestry, doll clothes
-miniature 3D printing

When you’re looking for miniatures to buy, you’ll notice that the smaller the object, the higher the price. Some pieces of artwork are so tiny that they are created under the microscope! And this is where scales matter. You’ll find these art objects advertised with all sorts of scales ranging from 1:2 to 1:72 and so on. The second number shows the equivalent size of the miniature compared to the size of a normal object (1).

And since this blog focuses on one technique of bringing ideas to life – 3D printing – you can find many miniature objects on the major 3D printing platforms. And even if you don’t find what you’re looking for among those categories, you can always download a 3D model, modify it if it’s not already 3D printable and scale it down to the desired size in whatever 3D graphics software you use. On most platforms, you can scale a 3D model up and down without leaving that website e.g. Shapeways or iMaterialize.

If you know of any other type of miniature art, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Same if you have any tips on storing visual artwork while being a renter, especially as a digital nomad.

How to keep your home clutter-free when you just love visual arts

For a long time, I thought minimalism and my love for art didn’t go well together so one had to go. And since having space to live and think was more important to me, I just stopped buying and getting art wherever I lived at that point of time. But that was all about to come to an end as I found three ways to surround myself with beautiful things without cluttering the space I live in. If you are a renter or if you are location independent moving a lot, you must read this.

Minimalism is a skill and like any other, it must be practiced. When I first heard of this concept, my childhood room was full with print books. Lots of them. And moving to college from one place to another was a nightmare. I am thankful that today I am at my 3rd ebook reader and I read even more books than I did back then. If you’d visit my home today, you’d think I’m barely literate as I own very few print books. But I’m still the same bookworm. Reading has been one of those few things where I didn’t change. Many of my previous books were art albums and I admit I haven’t been keen on buying new digital ones as I much prefer text on my basic Kindle. But I found something even better to replace my addiction to beautiful things, at least to images depicting them: I joined Pinterest. And to be honest, that social media website is to be blamed for setting up this blog and getting into visual arts again. I’ve forgotten how much I loved colors and shapes. And unlike Google Images,  on Pinterest I could organize ideas into collections and images are less cluttered too.

A second strategy I used was to admire art outside of my place. And a natural place to start with were museums. But here lies a pet peeve of mine: most times I visit an art museum, it’s actually a museum with only one type of art – painting. Sculptures are a rarity in museums where I live. And decorative arts are even rarer. But all these art pieces are still created and produced, it’s just a matter of time to find them or even to extend the definition of what an art-displaying place is. It could sometimes be a library. Or a botanical garden. Or an abandoned wall turned into a graffiti. Or a niche craft fair whenever there is a public holiday. Or a nice restaurant where the food is not only good tasting, but also beautiful to look at. And since I have a weakness for traditional Japanese arts, I realized that art can be found anywhere and created by anybody and out of any materials. But it’s a skill to notice it.

Which brings me to the third way I enjoy visual arts without hoarding lots of stuff at home. When I had to move into my home, I had to make lots of difficult decisions. I am still the unsympathetic person in the family who says ‘no’ when there is danger to bring clutter in the home  – like a new piece of furniture or whatever. When I moved in, the house was empty and white. Compared to all the other places I lived in, it felt so liberating. And ever since then, I struggled to keep it like that as much as possible. And I had to ask myself what is the minimum number and type of objects I could go by with.  The answer to this has a lot to do with combining minimalism with a passion for beautiful things.
Because at a minimum, you need something to cover your body and some utensils to eat from and with. An unspoken way to own few things in your pristine home and still enjoy visual arts is to embed the latter into functional objects. Instead of walls being adorned with beautiful paintings, try to get those same pictures on objects you use every day – like on a plate or a teapot or a keepsake box. Instead of filling your house or even a dedicated cabinet with sculptures and figurines, try to embed those in three-dimensional objects you need anyway – like a lamp to read in the evening or a centerpiece fruit bowl in the kitchen. The moment you stop using these objects for their functional purpose and use them for display only, you become a collector. Is it worth it? You decide that one.

To sum it up, here are the three ways to enjoy visual arts without cluttering your home:
– go digital and try Pinterest and ebooks and digital arts in general
– admire art outdoors and indoors outside your home – art does exist wherever you least expect it
– buy decorative art objects instead of fine art ones – you need pottery and textiles and some furniture anyway, so why clutter your home with objects which although beautiful, have no other use?

If you’ve managed to enjoy art and still kept your home clutter-free, I’d love to hear from you in a comment below!

How to keep your home clutter-free when you just love visual arts