Seashell Welcome Sign Tutorial

Do you have a bunch of seashells sitting around from that last trip to the shore?  Make a beautiful Welcome Sign using your seashell collection, foam board and a bit of paper mache!  Want to know how?

seashell welcome sign tutorial

This project has a funny background story.  Bear with me:

A few years ago, we took a trip with my parents to Mexico Beach, FL. It was a pretty adventurous trip as Mom managed to break her arm while trying to get a good photo of a pelican…long story. We still managed to have a good time in spite of it.

mom and dad at mexico beach

We couldn’t believe how many shells were on the beach and so much variety. Immediately, all kinds of projects came to mind and I started amassing them in plastic grocery bags. I was walking down the beach early one morning and got to talking to another shell collector. She mentioned that there was a beach a little further down the road that always had a bigger selection of the nicer shells.

So while driving around with my husband and parents, I mentioned the beach and asked if they wanted to check it out. The road to it was not well marked, and was for the most part unpaved and one lane. We drove down it and finally came across a nice sized parking lot that actually had quite a few cars in it. The beach was not visible from the parking lot as there were more dunes to cross via a nice raised wooden walkway.

I was a bit bummed as I figured with the number of cars there, the shells would be picked through. We got out of the car and contemplated whether or not to do the walk and check it out anyway.

sign on the nudie beach

At the beginning of the trail stood a sign. It had a lot of unusual warnings on it. It warned of undertow and the absence of water rescue, beware of stingrays, toxic shells, jelly fish, discarded fishing hooks, dangerous wildlife, microbiological health hazards, sharks and alligators (of all things). ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK! It really made the beach sound like a toxic waste dump. We were just about to go back to the car when one of us noticed the last line on the sign. NUDITY IS PERMITTED.

Now I don’t know about you, but that is something that I could not pass up. I have never been on a nudie beach! I immediately started up the walkway.  Mom was already quite a bit ahead of me, trucking along at a good pace, broken arm and all with Dad right behind her.

Amazing what energy the prospect of seeing a bunch of naked people can give you!  My husband followed reluctantly behind me. He said, “Suzy, going naked on a nudist beach makes you a nudist; going fully clothed just makes you a pervert.”

Oh well, pervert I am then.

As mom cleared the final dune first and says, “I see a man and… he has a shirt on”!  You could hear the disappointment in her voice. I finally catch up with her and check out the beach. It was a relatively busy beach with lots of families; all fully clothed. Mom and I looked at each other, totally disappointed. Our quest for nudity was unfulfilled.

My husband, poor thing, just looked relieved. I don’t think he has any pervert in him.

We got back to the parking lot and looked a bit more closely at the sign. It appeared that someone has painted over the word NO in front of “Nudity is Permitted”. I guess in our excitement, we kind of missed that.

I know… we’re perverts.

ANYWAY, now that I’ve given you the back story of our seashell collection, let’s do something with it! I wanted to do this project with my mother as she had helped collect the shells and even had a pelican related “sports” injury to show for it.

For each sign I used:

1 dollar store “Welcome” sign
1/2 sheet of foam board
Gorilla Glue
Instant Paper Mache
Acrylic Paint
Assorted Seashells
White sand
White glue
Hot glue
Clear Acrylic Spray

seashell welcome sign tutorial

I had found these Welcome signs at the dollar store several years ago and stored them for future use. They have now found their calling…
seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

I wanted to create a base to set the Welcome signs on that would act as a “sand bar” to hold the shells. But I didn’t want it to weigh much as the shells can get heavy. So a sheet of foam board was perfect. I cut (2) 2 1/2″ x 12″ pieces for the long sides, (1) 4″ x 12″ piece for the bottom, and (1) 3″ x 10″ top piece for each sign, using a straight edge and a craft knife. (These measurements were to fit my welcome sign).

I glued these together with Gorilla Glue, the narrower piece on top.  I cut the long side pieces at an angle on the ends to match the ends of the top and bottom pieces.

seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

I then cut (2) side pieces for each sign 2 1/2″ wide x 4″ long at the bottom, 3″ long at the top.  I glued these on at an angle and trimmed any edges that didn’t quite meet.  This doesn’t have to be perfect because we are going to be covering the whole thing.  This is just the base.

seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

I wanted some height in the background, so I cut out a sailboat using a template that I had out of the left over foam board.

I then mixed up a batch of instant paper mache. You can find it in most craft stores. It is a little expensive at $8.00 a box, but I’m a bit lazy about making my own paper mache. You just add water to this and go for it. So, I managed to find a coupon, got a good discount, and still have tons left over for other projects.

seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

The sailboats and the bases have been coated and are ready to dry. The box said it would take 24 hours to dry. Due to the humidity, it actually took mine about 4 days. So plan ahead.

Once the paper mache finally dried, I painted the welcome signs white, glued them onto the top with Gorilla Glue and painted the sailboats and glued them behind the welcome signs. Gorilla glue is awesome for this particular part of this project because as it dries, it expands. That fills in all the uneven places between the sign and the paper mache. And it is a very good bond.

seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

I then loaded up my finished bases and showed up at Mom’s house so that we could both put together our signs. Turns out we had more shells that we could even begin to use. After I perused her refrigerator for my fill of “mom” food, we went to work.

At this point, we switched to hot glue because we needed the “instant” glue factor if you know what I mean. Just be careful not to glue anything accidently to your arm. Not that I would know anything about that… Anyway, we started with larger shells and worked our way around the base, glueing away and adding smaller shells in as we went.

seashell welcome sign tutorial

After the shells were glued on, we moved outside into the million degree weather to add sand in between the shells. For this, we used white glue, painting the glue on where we wanted sand, and then sprinkling the sand on and tapping the extra off.

seashell welcome sign tutorialseashell welcome sign tutorial

Finally, we sprayed them down with several coats of clear acrylic varnish to bring out the colors of the shells, and protect the final project. We are both very happy with the final project. Perfect for a mantel, a windowsill or maybe a bookshelf.

And it even comes with a story. A naked story.  Can’t beat that.

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{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Brenda Williams July 1, 2013, 12:53 am

    Love this and the shells are just beautiful. Great idea!

  • Cheryl@ Sew Can Do June 28, 2013, 3:25 pm

    This is so cute and I LOVE the story that goes with it. Pinning this lovely idea. Especially the disappointment in the man having a shirt on. LOL.

  • Sue June 28, 2013, 2:55 pm

    Suzy, you are soo funny. I just love your stories. I’ll have to try and make one of those signs. I just so happen to have a Welcome sign and some shells.
    Thanks for the story.

  • Debilee June 28, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Love it!!! I would have gone full speed ahead too just to check that out. It’s not every day you get to visit a nudie beach! LOL I love the shell signs too! 🙂

  • norene June 28, 2013, 10:27 am

    Thanks for the memory. I did have a good time even if I broke my arm. Enjoyed the pictures and also making the welcome signs with you.

  • Paula June 28, 2013, 9:52 am

    this is really sharp looking, love it !!!!

  • Jody June 28, 2013, 7:36 am

    I love your Welcome Sign, especially since it is made of shells from my favorite beach. I have been going to Mexico Beach since I was a child. Love, love, love! I crave Killer Seafood all year long…lol

  • Danielle, The Frugal Navy Wife October 19, 2011, 7:34 pm

    Such a great idea! i wish i had half your talant! Featured your post!

  • iram July 13, 2011, 3:58 am

    🙂 finally got the link i really enjoyed the story behind it 😉

  • Vivienne @ the V Spot July 12, 2011, 5:51 pm

    OK, got the link to work. Super cute, very clever. Loved the background story… You perv.

  • Janet November 20, 2010, 11:44 pm

    I love the hilarious way you write. I was giggling the whole time. And the seashell sign is awesome. Thanks for making the tutorial so entertaining. Sounds very much like my daughter and me.

  • Donna@Conghaile Cottage November 19, 2010, 3:54 am

    I LOVE your signs, and your story was "TOO CUTE"! Thanks for sharing your talent with us…

  • Diane at Perfectly Imperfect Life September 17, 2010, 2:19 pm

    What a clever project. I never would have thought of that! and the story will definitely become a favorite summer memory, I'm sure! Thanks for sharing it on my linky party!

  • Leslie August 24, 2010, 11:04 pm

    Your story was cracking me up! What a cute welocme sign! Thanks for linking up to Hoo's got talent!

  • Ashlee @ I'm Topsy Turvy August 24, 2010, 8:36 pm

    I have a good friend who goes to the beach every year and collects stuff every time. She would love this! Thank you for linking up to Topsy Turvy Tuesday's!

  • Heather Bredimus August 22, 2010, 1:50 am

    Hi! I found your site off of Today’s Creative Blog! I love your craft! You are so talented! I just signed up to be your 47th follower! Woo hoo! I hope you stop by my new blog. I just started it 2 months ago and would love new friends! Please come see me at


  • Lynda August 20, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Wow, those shells are great!!! I had forgotten about the nudie beach story, ha ha ha ha ha,

  • Anji* August 19, 2010, 9:58 am

    I love the project.. anything with found shells is cool!
    I think I love the story even more..

  • Jerri August 19, 2010, 7:54 am

    More great works of art! Nice job on these!

    Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites!

  • Coco loves vintage August 18, 2010, 12:54 pm

    Great job, I'm a sucker for shell creations 🙂

  • ★All Thingz Related★ August 18, 2010, 3:19 am

    Thanks for sharing your project at Anything Related! ~Bridgette

  • Susan @ Entertain Exchange August 18, 2010, 3:11 am

    Very cute – you did a great job!

    Party and Entertaining Inspiration

  • Ginger August 18, 2010, 1:03 am

    Cool! Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!

  • Anonymous August 17, 2010, 5:21 pm

    We just re-did my daughter's room with an under-the-sea theme. This would be perfect for her using her name instead of 'welcome'. Thanks!

  • Kim -today's creative blog August 17, 2010, 4:42 pm

    These look so fun to make. Great ideas.
    Please remember to link to me. 🙂

  • cheryl@scrapaddict4sure August 17, 2010, 10:59 am

    NOw that was creative!

  • Jill August 17, 2010, 12:13 am

    Great signs!! And I love your nudist story!!

    I love when you finally find a use for something you've been hoarding for a long time!

    Thanks so much for linking up to A Round Tuit!

    I'm going to sign up to follow your lovely blog!
    Hope you have a great week!

    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  • AliLilly August 16, 2010, 5:21 pm

    I love those!!!! We are from Houston Tx so we spent nearly all our lives at the beach! We now live in Az (George Straight lied!!!) I miss the beach and am adding beachy decor all over our home! This is great! I can't wait to make one! Thanks for the tutorial. I'm following you now! 🙂

    OH I found you on Skip to my Lou Made by Me Mondays!!

  • Becca August 16, 2010, 4:47 pm

    I love this idea! I have a ton of shells that we have collected this summer that would be perfect for this project. I would be honored if you would link this project up to my Beach Week link party. Here is the link:

  • Amanda August 14, 2010, 2:12 pm

    These turned out great! Very cute!

  • Amalia August 14, 2010, 1:20 pm

    They look beautiful and the story was funny! 🙂 Keep up the amazing work!

  • Sourkraut August 14, 2010, 12:17 pm

    Great job! I like that you made them look classy, not tacky like some beach-themed decor can be.

  • Lynne August 13, 2010, 7:37 pm

    Those look great. I love that you posed them by the pool.

  • Amanda@The Hand Me Down House August 13, 2010, 2:58 pm

    VERY cute, Suzy! And HOW creative!!! This is such a wonderful idea — you did a great job! : )

  • M.O.T.B August 13, 2010, 2:46 pm

    These are beautiful! They look amazing by the water!

  • Mass Hole Mommy August 13, 2010, 1:52 pm

    Wow, those are super cute! I am now following!

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