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The Sanibel Fireplace

About three years ago, I received a direct message that sparked an incredible journey. Ginny Dickinson had recommended me to create a shell fireplace for someone. My first thoughts were: "Me? Ginny? A fireplace?"

I'd never done a fireplace before, but my creative brain was instantly on fire with ideas.

Ginny Dickinson and me taking a "Shellfie" with the shell heart she created. It's on display at the Chamber of Commerce on Sanibel Island.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, Hurricane Ian hit Sanibel Island, and my client's home was badly damaged, so the project was postponed. Fast forward to the end of 2023, I finally met with my client in person. Let's call her Terri, because that's her name. Terri showed me some images of what the room would look like when it's decorated. I measured the fireplace, and we talked about her vision. She gave me creative freedom, for which I am super grateful.

Terri mentioned she loved butterflies and wanted the design to be flowy, floral, and feminine. Something special and one of a kind. Inspired by lace, I created a design and sent out two samples with different finishes: one with Capiz shells and the other with crushed shells. I also made a mock-up to help Terri visualize the final piece.

Fireplace design proposal

We met up with Terri again to review the design, ensuring it captured her vision perfectly before moving forward. She wanted to add seashells she had collected with her sister and requested 15 butterflies to symbolize her family. As we discussed the design, we decided to add a sunflower in the center, as sunflowers were her sister's favorites.

Then, I got to work.

Work in progress

I meticulously glued the shells onto sheetrock that had been cut to exact measurements by Terri's contractors. The work was intricate, each seashell was small, and I applied crushed Capiz shells to achieve an iridescent effect. I then finished the piece with a smooth coat of resin. The process was labor-intensive, requiring patience and precision, but that’s the beauty of making something with your own hands. Each shell was placed with care, and I loved every minute of the process, knowing that this unique, handcrafted piece would become a cherished part of Terri's home.

Before the crushed Capiz shells applied.

On the day of the installation, Mike and Juan took charge of carefully installing the piece. The fireplace was in three sections, and I had to add extra shells at the joints to ensure a seamless and cohesive look.

Installation in progress.

Last touches, adding in some extra shells at the joints to ensure a seamless and cohesive look.

 When it was finally in place, Terri was overjoyed, and I couldn't have been happier. The fireplace looked stunning. Though it will only be used for decorative purposes, it’s a captivating addition to Terri’s home, filled with meaningful symbols that make it truly one of a kind.

A Labor of Love- One of a Kind Seashell Fireplace

This project reminded me of the joy of creating something unique. As an artist, I crave creative challenges, and this was an opportunity to push my boundaries and explore new ideas.

I’m grateful to Ginny for the recommendation and to Terri for the opportunity to create this one-of-a-kind piece.

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2 comentarios

Absolutely beautiful! I only dream of becoming as amazing as you are one day. I too am a shell artist with hopes of moving from the art/craft show scene to custom pieces. Thank you for the inspiration and courage to move forward!

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Katarina Tifft
Katarina Tifft
2 days ago
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Thank You for the kind words! Wishing you a successful journey ahead.

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