A few years ago, I shared some adorable mermaid earrings and they were a smashing hit.. so I decided to pull out that same batch of shells and make a seashell necklace – or four. Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. This post was first published in May 2017 and was updated for relevance, and to add a video.
Full disclosure: I am not a 10-year-old girl. I’m a 28 year old mom of two boys and a girl who somehow comes up with things like this. But y’know being a tween girl seems to come naturally to me, minus the drama…
So while I might convert it into a key chain once I realize that I’m not going to wear these around, it’s interesting that this is what I came up with. Truth is, the silver chain style isn’t that childish – I’m sure I can adult this up… (that is SO a thing.)
I made a few styles of seashell necklace varying the colors, textures, shells and string, but I did stick to clay and shell with all of them.
The fun part was figuring out how to add texture to the clay to make it more fun.
On one seashell necklace, I simply pressed in glitter. This will only really work with glass glitter, which has more body to it. Tinsel glitter would need to be Mod Podged onto the final piece rather than pressed into the soft clay.
On the other, I scraped off shavings from a chalk pastel. I LOVE how it came out!! This also works with plain old chalk. If you use chalk, the color will come out when you seal it and it absorbs the moisture. You MUST seal it.
I actually completely redid this project now (in 2021) so that I can reshare it. On the second try, I decided to try microbeads as well. Those needed two layers of sealer to really hold them in place but do look really cool.
I used this clay from a big bucket, making this an extremely inexpensive project. To finish it off, you can use either a polymer clay glaze (like I used in the first take) or Mod Podge Super Gloss like I used in the redo.
Air dry clay is very easy to use, but it’s white (or terra cotta – don’t get the terra cotta!) In the first round, I used gouache paints to make it a rich color. In the second, I used regular craft acrylics. They both work great. It’s nice to be able to customize colors rather than being limited to the brand’s palette!
The thing with this clay is that it’s very fragile if it’s too thin. That’s why most jewelry artists don’t usually use it. You do need to make sure that your seashell necklace is think enough that it doesn’t break. I used this clay because I had no idea if I can bake the shell or not, and didn’t feel like trying…
As you can see, I switched around the way I strung each seashell necklace. For some, I used white cotton twine and a wooden bead. This gives it more of a casual feel. On another, I added a bit of chain with silver beads strung on. That’s a great way to dress it up for bigger kids (or moms?!)
One of the shells I used is painted. I had a shell leftover from when I made my seashell earrings and decided to use it in this necklace. It adds a watercolor touch and really upgrades this seashell necklace! Most of these shells were beach keepsakes but for the redo, I couldn’t find them, so I bought a bag of shells to keep in my craft room.
I kept one necklace very simple – a perfect necklace for boys too!
Whichever seashell necklace you plan to make, this open-ended craft is perfect for teen summer camp, for a beach party, or any day just for fun! If you want to get started with polymer clay, try this bonfire craft instead!
And if you love making air dry clay jewelry that’s colorful and fun, try this hair tie bracelet DIY tutorial!
Want to learn how to make jewelry out of anything? These seashell necklace are a sample project from my new book How to Make Jewelry Out of Anything!
What you need to make a seashell necklace:
- Air dry clay
- Water-based paint in your choice of colors
- Glass glitter (optional). Glass glitter has a higher quality finished look than regular glitter, so I prefer it for jewelry making crafts. It also has more substance and can easily be pressed into the clay
- Chalk pastels (for richer color) or sidewalk chalk (optional)
- A skewer, clay tool, or the back of a paintbrush – anything that can poke a hole…
- Small seashells
- Sculpey Glaze or Mod Podge Super Gloss + a paintbrush
- Cotton twine, thin chain, or similar string
- Wood or glass beads (optional)
- Something to protect your surface from the clay and paint.
How to make a seashell necklace:
1. Soften your clay with your fingers.
2. Flatten it and create a well in the center for your paint.
3.Add a few drops of water-based paint and mix it up.
4.Add color as needed, a little bit at a time. If you do too much at once, you’ll find that the clay cakes onto your hand.
Experiment with different colors for different necklaces.
5. Press it into a coin shape at least 1/4 inch thick and larger than your shell.
6.If you want, add texture in the form of glitter or pastel shavings.
7. Press your shell into the center and shape your clay around it however you want. I did round, a teardrop, and pressed against the shell.
8. Poke a hole using a skewer or the back of a paint brush.
9. Paint on two layers of glaze, allowing it to dry in between.
When you’re done, add your string, knots, and finish it off how you want.
Your DIY seashell necklace is complete! Where will you be doing this seashell craft? Who will you give this necklace to, and what variations do you want to share with other Moms & Crafters readers? Comment below!
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