One of my dearest friends and I share a passion for shelling.  We have been lucky enough to vacation together a few times in sunny spots and are known to while away a morning or afternoon, heads down, filling pockets and buckets with sand dollars and olives and scallops.  She has a knack for shark’s teeth, which I lack; this is a source of consternation for my children.

A few years ago we were together on a hot, sweaty island when we saw a group of men cleaning conch for a nearby cafe.  After extracting the creatures from their homes they were tossing the not-quite-football-sized shells into the bay.  We would have scrambled down the bank to retrieve our souvenirs ourselves, but small sharks were enjoying the leftovers.  Nurse sharks, I’m sure, but still.  Besides having a generous spirit and a wicked sense of humor, my friend also has a sweet smile and a killer figure.  This combination resulted in the very pretty conch shell on my mantle.

She asked me this weekend if Bill LaCivita focuses entirely on shell busts, and in fact, he does not.  While working on the goddess he forwarded pictures of a few other works.  Before I could even scroll down to see it, the text of his email said, “And don’t ask for the mermaid – she’s too big to ship.”  Wonder how he knew?

We have gathered a lot of shells over the years and I am always toying with how to display them best.  Most of mine sit in bags and boxes under the counter in my kitchen.  I noticed my friend had a basket filled with shells on a table in her family room.  They looked just right – a heap of happy memories comfortable in their midwestern home.  Her conch shell is on a nearby table.

This week I hope to dig around a bit for unused containers and those bags and boxes.  I think the goddess could use a few friends.
Images, top, Bill LaCivita.  Two lower images, The Way We Live with the Things We Love by Stafford Cliff; photography by Gilles de Cabaneix.
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12 thoughts on “Shelling

  1. Shells are so beautiful and each one is unique. I love those pink tiny ones in the vase. Not too many, just the right amount to remember we are part of nature.

  2. Something about these treasures from vacations taken at places we love,with good friends to bring back memories abound!

  3. oh, she’ll love having all those friends surrounding her, and so will you! That mermaid is something, isn’t she?!

  4. I collect sea glass and find a big, beautiful hurricaine shows it off best. I have a friend in FL and she shells almost evary day- with big bowls and vases of them here and there. I love that mermaid!

  5. Each beach vacation, I would enjoy the shops with shell creations. I would make ladies with scalloped skirts and shell bustiers. A little shell can bring the beach inside and the memories. Sea oats were another love….

  6. I have a 1950’s era crayon box filled with fossilized sharks’ teeth that my older cousins found at cliffs here on the bay that are a brilliant ground for fossil-hunting. I can only imagine how many summer days were spent looking for these teeth.

  7. I love this artist and your stories of shelling. You might enjoy the post I did last night about another shell artist,Brian White, from Maine. All this talk makes me want to be at the beach!

  8. I have just moved and I have a box of conch shells that I found on the beach in Vieques years ago, I have the perfect place for them in my bathroom which has a narrow built in bookcase.
    I will also unearth the boxes, which always brings a smile of memories.

  9. I think you would love this website:

    She makes the most beautiful objects from shells and natural curiousities. So dreamy…

    She might even be able to make something with your very own shells. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

  10. I am an avid shell collector too. I used to be at the beach every summer for a couple of months at a time growing up, and sand dollars were a definite favorite. I can understand your shell love.

  11. we have a front yard of broken pieces of shells, collected from our all day summer back and forths down to the beach.

    I can imagine if I ever move away from the beach, I’ll always need shells to make me feel close to the ocean.

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