Become a Mermaid — jewellery made from beach and nature finds

A great summer pastime is strolling on the beach and collecting shells, stones, and seagrass. But after a month last summer of filling buckets and pockets, the sweet little Irish cottage we were staying in was bursting at the seams with our beach treasures. We had to either secretly save the best and transport the rest back to the beach, or do something clever. Fortunately, we had a good excuse to do the latter!

The local village had a children’s dress-up competition and the theme was mermaids!  Instant shell project!  So, I put our resources to the test and fashioned some jewellery out of white cotton kitchen twine and seashells and seagrasses.

What I didn’t realise was how simple it would be (or I would have taken more photos!) or how much the children would adore their jewellery. Again, if only I had known. We even had mer-man necklaces, but a certain 18 month old did not keep it on long enough for a photograph.

So perhaps this summer you will want to create some wonderful and wild beach inspired accessories? It is as simple as braiding and adding seashells to create jewellery. Be inspired by your local holiday finds. And since many older kids love making flower crowns or lanyard bracelets, this won’t be a very big departure from their skill set. They can customise it to create their own dress-up style.

Here are a few tips:

  • We washed the shells in the dishwasher first. Or soak overnight and let dry in the sun for a day
  • Use a basic roll of cotton twine or string, scissors, and throw in some creativity. I had Beatrice, who was then four years old, help me organise the shells into categories, while I plaited away.
  • Attach the end of the strings / plaits to the leg of a sturdy table or chair, to create tension while plaiting. Beatrice then acted as an assistant, handing me the shells. But older children would be able to do all of this on their own! I took several pieces of strings together to make thicker ‘ropes’ for the plaits– sometimes as many as 6 strings per plait! And make the strings much longer than you need them to be, since the thicker the plaits, the faster the string disappears when it weaves together.
  • The end result is very nautical, like a beautiful rope from a sailboat. The fun of course is what you do with it. For us, it was a great souvenir.

Did I mention I may have also pinned a bit of seaweed to the hem of her dress to make a mermaid tail? Perhaps I will gloss over that funny, yet fairly smelly addition! I think the local village people may still be laughing about that part of our dress-up!

Now what beach inspired creations will you make? Enjoy your beach treasures and the magical mermaids you turn into!


ps And while you are shell collecting, consider this craft. We also love, love, love Courtney’s DIY seashell mobiles. And one of our other favourite summer activities was this nature scavenger hunt. Two more fun things to do at the beach or on a rainy day.


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