Seashell, sea glass, bead, and pearl encrusted boxes

Alexandria, Virginia


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About TwigMurrayCreative

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On Etsy since 2018

Intricate Seed Bead, Shell, and Pearl Boxes Celebrating the Colors of Nature

I have always been drawn to the beach and can spend hours walking along collecting sea glass and shells. Over the years, I have put together a large collection mostly from Chincoteague, VA; Easthampton, LI; and the Carribbean.

A year or two ago while touring the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington , DC I was charmed by the bead encrusted objects of Betsy Youngquist - and started looking at other bead embellishers such as Jan Huling and Nancy Josephson. All these artists make fanciful creations by mounting intricate patterns of beads onto man-made objects such as old toy telephones, Kewpie dolls, and typewriters. The concept stuck in my craw - but I didn't want to try to do exactly what they were doing so well.

Then, I thought of combining my love of shells and sea glass with the idea of embellishing things with beautiful patterns of beads. I decided to take small wood boxes and decorate the exterior with intricate patterns of Czech seed beads, pearls, semi-precious stones, sea shells and sea glass. My goal is to celebrate the natural colors of the materials. Imperfections in the shells are emphasized and barnacles are honored.

The process begins with gluing the primary shell(s) to the top of the box. Then I string beads that are from Czechoslovakia or Japan. I lay a thin line of glue down following the shape of the shell or the edges of the box. These first lines are the most important as everything else echoes them. A mistake here ruins the whole box and on more than one occasion I have had to chip off thousands of beads and go back to square one. I put down the beads in lengths of an inch or two, pull out the string, and wait for the glue to dry totally. Lather, rinse, repeat. Additional sea shells, beach glass, pearls and semi-precious stones are added as I progress.

I finish the box by finding a vintage graphic or map that relates to where the shells were found or compliments the pattern of the outside. I resize and edit the graphic in Photoshop and mount it to the inside of the lid. The final stage is to cover the bottom of the box, both inside and out, with felt.

It takes forever and a day to create a complete box - but it is meditative and mesmerizing to me. Creative and relaxing. Creative and exciting. A floor wax and a dessert topping!

Custom orders are a special treat for me. I can make something to match a color theme or decor -- or use treasured things you have collected on your own beach combing outings.

Shop members

  • Twig

    Owner, Designer, Maker

    This is me. Never want to be photographed without a hat and sunglasses!!

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