I have loved shells for as long as I can remember. During my childhood summer beach trips, I remember religiously checking the tide report in the newspaper so that I could plan my daily shell hunting (sounds a little nerdy, no?).
If you're like me, then you must check out the beautiful new book The Shell: A World of Decoration and Ornament by Ingrid Thomas. This highly informative book covers the history of shells and the shell motif in art and decorative art through the ages. Chapters include shells in jewelry, art, architecture, furniture, and porcelain, to name a few.
What I find most fascinating are the objects that were created using actual shells. Some of the most amazing images (at least to me) are the rooms and grottos that are decorated entirely in shells! Can you imagine the time and labor that went into these rooms? The craftsmanship in all of the objects featured in the book are just remarkable. Of course, after reading the book I have all types of fanciful ideas about what to do with my collection of shells. But in reality? Perhaps I should stick to something simple like a small mirror!
Shell Gallery at Rosendael Castle, Netherlands, c. 1730.
"The Sharpham Shellwork", c. 1770. Created by Jane Pownoll with shells collected in the West Indies by her privateer husband, the work is a replica of Sharpham House.
A carved mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell jewelry casket, 19th c. English.
Shell obelisks by Tess Morley, 1999
Pair of Olympic torches created by Peter Coke, 2001
Arcimboldesque Shell-Head Fountain in the garden of Petit Chateau, Parc de Sceaux, Hauts-de-Seine, France.