Thursday, December 1, 2016

How About Shell Art Therapy

I recently blogged about wood art therapy. How about shell art therapy, especially for those living along coastal areas that have shelling? Blogging about "therapy" makes it sound like I really need help. Well, maybe some people think I do, but I find these things add to my quality of life.

I live in NW Florida where the beaches are wonderful, but typically have no shells. However, several years ago we had beach nourishment due to erosion. The contractor brought in sand to pump onto the shore that contained shells. Well, I and my grandkids had a ball for two years collecting surface shells and digging for others. We came up with hundreds of neat ones. Now what to do with them? We made stuff.

When I talk about shelling for therapy, I mean finding them and creating objects. I love the "finding" phase. I can roam for hours with my head bent over looking for shells. When I go to an area known for shelling, I am up early after a storm checking to see what has washed up. When I am vacationing along a shell shore like SW Florida, I love taking a leisurely walk for exercise AND to look for shells. It is therapeutic for me. I come back to the beach chairs loaded with shells - mostly junk ones. But it is the "hunt" that is fun. After leaving, the junk shells normally go into the trash. The grandkids and I also try to find "shell holes" where shells had been buried under the sand. We found numerous pure treasures holes. Like finding pirate treasure.

We accumulated a lot of shells. Now what to do with them. We bought cheap frames from Michaels , pained them, and glued shells to the edges. Make super beachy frames.

Then we made some shell balls. Taking styrofoam balls and pressing in and gluing the shells. When I saw similar ones for sale at Pier 1 for $8, it did not bother me that we had spent hours working on them. It is the therapy and creating that counted for us. Normally we used small white shells. Sometimes we dyed them pastel, beach colors - fun look.

Then we took shells and filled glass vases, sometimes adding white beach sand on the bottom. Fun beach setting and free if you have the vase.

Then we took some medium shells and drilled a hole to make a necklace pendant. It was not a "Tiffany," but we made it and it had memories. I am sure it made it to the trash early on. We will just make more.

The result of all our efforts were and are numerous. I and my family had loads of fun finding and creating. This time is invaluable for memories. My granddaughter is 19 and we still talk about our shelling adventures. The shell process was and is a great therapeutic experience for me. I can lose myself for hours hunting for shells on the beach or creating. Who cares what the results look like, it is great for me. Sometimes, the result is good or better. We still have shell frames, shell balls, and shell filled vases displayed around the house. Each one has memories.

However, sometimes I found myself not appreciated. I found so many shells that I loved giving them to kids that were looking for them, but had found few. I would "seed" the area around where they were looking so they could find more. Then I started giving them to kids. Once, the mother gave me a very dirty look. I guess part of the "don't talk to strangers issue." From that point on, I always asked the parent before if I could give their kids some shells. Much better.

Mother Nature's products offer many ways to introduce free therapy into your life. I find that the first thing needed is to open my mind and ask myself "now, what can I make out of this." Often it is goofy, but who cares. I want to please myself and do not need approvals. It does help that I am semi retired and my efforts would equate to $.05 per hour or less. The process simply gives me internal pleasure.
Try it you might like it.

Thanks for listening to me. I might bore you, but I am having fun.
Life is great. Let's have fun while we are still able to.

John "Gabby" Gabrielson
Natural Creations
NW Florida, Land of Excitement and Beauty

Have a great holiday season.


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