Monday, 19 October 2009

Sea Shell Ornaments

When I was a little girl we spent our family holidays in Carnoustie, Scotland. My favourite activity was looking for cowrie shells. Sometimes we would have a little competition of who could find the most. I think the most I found in one day was about 14. This year when we were down in Cornwall I went for a long walk on Hayle beach and to my amazement managed to find two cowries. I believe many many years ago they were used as a form of currency.
These days when I am out and about a fairs I quite often spot seashell ornaments mostly from the 1960s and 1970s. Recently I came across a set of 5 shell ornaments in the form of a musical band! Then today I came across this cute little dog, a seal and a chair.

The chair is missing a part but up in the loft somewhere I have a little cast iron figurine which should sit on it nicely!

I remember in the 1970s my mum would put plaster of paris over an old bottle and then stick the seashells we found on to it. These days, I generally prefer to leave the shells on the beach and would prefer not to buy new seashells. Some countries now have strict restrictions on shell collecting to protect species which is a good thing. I think it was in Perth, Australia there was a sign on the beach asking people not to collect shells and to think of the sea creatures that may need them too for shelter, such as hermit crabs!

I also found this resin seashell candle holder. I have sold several paperweights, very similar to this, over the summer. They are very 1970s! Whenever they have appeared in our house, they are usually swiped by my two young daughters who are fascinated by them.

Apparently shell art originated in the 18th century and has its roots in sailors making valentines to send home to loved ones. They made shell arrangements in wooden octagonal glazed cases. Then, in the Victorian times exotic shells became popular and women used them to decorate boxes and mirrors.

If any of you happen to be in North Norfolk there are two shell displays which sound very interesting. The shell museum - in Glandford houses the best shell exhibition in the UK and The Peter Coke gallery - which houses an amazing collection of shell art.

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