I recently toured a historic house of an artist- the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Each door had a totally unique door frame! The one that stuck out to me most had shells around the frame. How fun?! So I came home inspired and realized that my she shed would be the perfect place to add DIY shell mosaic trim!
Here’s a picture of the sea shell mosaic trim that inspired this project from The Bonnet House.
The house is on the coast and the owners loved to collect shells! When friends would visit they’d bring shells as a gift. And before dinner, everyone would find shells on the beach before eating. Sounds like a good life to me!
how to create shell mosaic trim
Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.
- 2 Boxes of Mosaic Glass Leaf Tiles
- 2 Bags of Shells (here’s a similar option)
- 1 Bag Glass Gems (similar option)
- Tiling Sponge
- Trowel for Tiling
- Tile Adhesive
- Painter’s Tape
step 1- the layout
Start by measuring the space where the mosaic will go. I got the height of the doors and the width.
This is the second door I’ll be doing.
Next, its nice to do a quick sketch of what the vision is. This will help when laying out the shells and for pulling all the ideas together.
Then, put a measuring tape on a table and start putting the shells in a pattern the same dimensions as the door.
To create the layout, I found it best to start with the top and bottom border- which I created by making a pattern with shells, glass, and mosaic pieces.
Then put in the large items. For the center of the small mosaic, I’m using a plastic HOMCO butterfly. I have a bunch of these on my wall that I’ve found vintage shopping that I’ve painted pink to match the wall.
On the big mosaic, I’m using a plaster flower wall hanging I bought at a flea market in Paris! It was already hanging on the wall, and now it’ll be part of my mosaic!
Last, fill in the mosaic with smaller items. When filling in the open space, I like having a similar shell or gem in both hands so I can create symmetry while finishing up the layout.
step 2- tape
Now that the layout is done, measure it and draw the outline on a piece of paper. I like to figure out how tall my arch is, how long the side borders are, and how tall the borders come out to. Then I write those measurements on a paper.
Outside in my she shed, I take those measurements and draw them onto the wall where the mosaic will go. Then I add painters tape on the edge. For the curve, I like to cut a piece of painter’s tape to be really thin so it’ll bend easily along the curve.
After doing this project, I learned that the more paint you can use on each edge, the cleaner this project will turn out. Taping is an essential step!
step 3- put up the mosaic
Next, it’s the scary/exciting part- let’s install the mosaic! For this project, I’ll be using tile adhesive to adhere the mosaic to the wall. I will not be grouting. I did a mosaic table project a few years ago and the grouting was the worst, so I’m happy to avoid it. The inspiration I saw had the shell pieces pushed into the mortar. So I’ll be doing a similar method.
For this project, I’m using a tiling trowel that I use to put the tile adhesive onto the wall. I also have a bucket full of water and a tiling sponge ready to clean up any messes. Having this bucket ready is key! The sponge is great for wiping off tile adhesive that gets anywhere where it shouldn’t be (walls, hands, mosaic, etc)
Work in 2 foot sections and apply the tile adhesive to the wall. It works nicely to apply it about 1/4″ thick. I found that it is slow going putting the mortar up and then getting it smooth. Just know it takes time and the smoother it looks now, the better it’ll look when it dries. One thing that works nicely to get it nice and flat is dipping the trowel into the water before smoothing.
Once the tile adhesive is applied to the wall in one section, take the mosaic pieces and start pushing them into the mortar.
For the sides of the door, it works nicely to have the components in different bowls and pull each piece up and work along the trim applying them in a pattern.
For the sections over the door, I found it easiest to take each piece of the mosaic off the dining room table where I did the layout and transfer it onto a long board before brining it downstairs. This ensures that the planned layout will stay intact.
Continue applying the mosaic. I like to pull 3-5 pieces off the board at a time and then put them where they go on the wall.
This makes for a slow going project, but it’s really fun to see the pieces come together!
And here’s the finished shell mosaic door trims!
On the smaller side, I love how it came out. Though it does look a bit chaotic with the butterflies all over the wall. Should I re-hang the butterflies or just take them off? I didn’t want to repair all of the holes today, so I’m going to think it over for a bit.
As the tile adhesive dries, it yellows a bit. That doesn’t bother me (though I would prefer if it was more white).
On the larger side, I really think it looks lovely! I took what I learned from the smaller side. I added a bunch of clear gems from the pack I bought and love how those fill in the spaces.
After doing the first mosaic, I realize that I like a more neutral mosaic- less color and the pizazz really comes from the texture and sparkle. It’s a lot of look so keeping it more monochromatic works nicely.
So that makes this project cost come to $46! Which is not too shabby! I’m happy with that price (even though the glass leaves are a little pricey).
In conclusion, I am very happy with the shell mosaic trim! My favorite part of this project is it feels like a very artistic touch to my house. This is something that has to be make custom on sight. That makes it feel special and unique. Which it is! I think it’s fun and since it’s in my shed, it’s fine that it’s a little out there. What do you think? I’d love to hear in the comments!
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