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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sanibel Shell Shadow Box

I finally put together this shadow box of shells that I collected at Sanibel Island, Florida in 2001. I've had the idea to do it as part of my bathroom redecoration for a long time, but just got around to completing it this week. I got a nautical chart of Sanibel Island off the internet and printed it out at a low opacity for the background of the shadow box. I even figured out how to use a hot glue gun.

Sanibel is known for its fine shelling beaches. It is uniquely situated facing east/west on the Gulf of Mexico and the sand extends far out from the island, dropping off very gradually, so the shells do not get crushed, but roll gently onto the shore. They have a shell fair every year there too.

Steve took this picture of a pile of shells on the beach there. So now you're probably less impressed with my collection, aren't you? (I think we might have planted some good ones in this shot.)

I really got into the shelling while there. They even have a shell museum which we visited. The best time to look for shells is just after the lowest tide and early in the morning, before the beach has been picked over. The last day we were there, I got up before the sunrise to go shelling and Steve took this picture. I'm SO not a morning person. The only things that get me up before the sun are birding and shelling.

Steve also took a nice photo of one of the beach bikes that our inn lends out to guests.

One thing you need to know if you are going to collect shells and bring them home is...they get really stinky if they are not washed and dried properly. I put mine in a tupperware container and it was really ripe when I opened it a few days later. Here's the whole collection.

The other really cool thing about Sanibel Island is that a big portion of it is a National Wildlife Refuge called "Ding" Darling NWR. Their specialty is wading birds. You can see spoonbills, ibises, all sorts of egrets there. It's wonderful, but don't forget the bug spray.

Jay Norwood "Ding" Darling was an illustrator, well, a cartoonist. He was also an early conservationist.

Now I want to go back there. They even shut off all the lights on the island at night so that the baby sea turtles don't get confused after they hatch and are trying to navigate by moonlight back to the sea.

My next project is to paint two faux natural history "prints" of these seashells to frame and hang over the bathtub. I hope that these will not take me as long to complete as the shadow box.


Tootie said...

Hi Dorothy,
It was nice hearing your impression of Sanibel. I felt just as you do when I came for vacation each year for over 30 years. Three years ago, I decided I couldn't leave again, and I'm still here. I feel like I am on vacation everyday. :-)
I really like your shadow box and will be waiting to see your next project. :-)

Linda said...

I'm now DYING to go to Sanibel. I love your shell collection.

Dorothy Reinhardt said...

I'll go with you.

Ellen said...

Hi! I just found your blog because I was looking at a shadowbox for shells I collected on Captiva Island. I went NUTS shelling! Nice shadowbox. I just showed my husband your photos, we were laughing because ours were so similar! Here's the link to my post:

akh said...


I'm from the UK. I spent the weekend collecting shells on Shell Island in Wales. I love your pics. There are some photos of shell island here.

Anonymous said...

Returned last sunday from a week on Sanibel, Cape Coral (Daughter lives there, nice accomadations). Beautiful place, Collected some nice shell specimens. We'll be back soon.