Let’s just preface this by saying – WOW. Honestly, we are so deeply honored to be a part of Otosan Sushi in Long Beach, CA in the newest shopping center, 2nd and PCH! If you haven’t been there or heard about it, CHECK IT OUT. You won’t regret it!
So when Design Development Group appreciated us as asked if we knew how to make a seashell mural, the answer was, “No, but we’ll figure it out and we’ll rock the shit out of it.”
And that’s what we did, and this is how we did it.
Tools & Supplies
- All Surfaces Liquid Nails
- Drip Free Caulk Gun
- Seashells in bulk from California Seashell Company
- Scaffold rented from our local hardware store
- Spatula (we already had the Cricut tool, but any spatula is fine!)
- Box cutter
- Paper towels
- Business card or card stock
- Mask (optional for construction site)
We went with white, tan, and brown colored shells in the shape of small and medium spirals to match the design. We avoided the half clam shells, but you can use any shape you’d like! We sent one sample to the company for review, and used one sample to experiment with. We experimented with different types of grout and how/where to glue the shells for the most stability. After much trial and error, we were confident that we were going to make a beautiful creation!
We rented the scaffolding from our local hardware store for about $200 a week with taxes and it was pretty simple to put together! We were afraid that two girls wouldn’t be able to carry and assemble the equipment, so we bribed our brother with seashells to help us transport it at 7am – lucky guy! Once we got the pieces, it was easy to figure out, so don’t be intimidated! We do recommend that you have 3 people to help hold the pieces together, just for ease!
Draw out your design
First, we prepped the wall by cleaning it with a wet paper towel. This removed the dust and grime that would block the adhesive and the mural wouldn’t last as long.
Next, we drew out the design with chalk. Consider the balance between the negative space and the design to ensure that it is pleasing to look at without looking too busy. We wanted to mimic the branches of a tree or the tentacles of a sea creature. Avoid a chalk marker or wax crayon because they stained the porous concrete. As we progressed with our installation, we erased the lines with a wet paper towel to ensure the guests can’t see a clean line and to remove the excess powder.
Lastly, take a look at the whole design, but be careful on the scaffolding! It’s tempting to want to step back and admire the whole thing, but keep in mind, it’s a far fall! It helps to have someone take a photo and show you as you progress. 🙂
Okay. This was the most intimidating part. It’s easy when the trial is 6 by 12 inches, but now we’re at a THIRTEEN FOOT WALL, with a ton of tiny seashells and a whooooole lotta wall to cover. Where do we start? Which shell do we use first? Oh boy.
First, get over the fear. We got this. We practiced for this!
The All Surfaces Liquid Nails is a plastic tube that comes apart into two parts: the piping tip and the base. Unscrew the piping tip to expose the base. Using the box cutter, cut the base of the tip, right above the rings. We ended up not using the piping tip, but if you wanted to add adhesive to the shell or wall directly, you may!
We loved the All Surfaces Liquid Nails because it has a gum like texture, making it easier to manipulate and hide than the grout that we experimented with. Since the mural was indoors, the temperature will be controlled and we won’t have to worry about sun damage. If it is outdoors, we recommend the Heavy Duty Liquid Nails. This has a gritty texture and is SUPER sticky!
Tips for applying the seashells
- Apply just the right amount of adhesive to the shell, too much makes the shell slide around, too little won’t stick at all! As the adhesive dries, it becomes more tacky, making it easier to apply.
- When applying the shells on the edges, bear in mind that the guests will be able to see these edges, and make sure no glue is leaking from the sides.
- Apply medium sized shells around the edges to create a “shelf” for the larger shells and allow to dry for a couple minutes.
- When applying the larger, heavier shells, use the “shelf” from tip 3. Apply a LOT of glue to one side of the shell to stick to the wall, and a little bit of glue to the medium sized shells to glue them together. Do the same with the surrounding shells to ensure stability.
- Clean up the edges using the box cutter. As the glue dries, it becomes a rubbery material, easy to slice the edges off!
- Use the Spatula to take off any excess adhesive from the wall or shells.
And that’s all folks! Thanks for following us on our seashell journey and supporting us on Instagram!
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We look forward to connecting with you soon!