Cheap Wall Art Part 1: Making Art From a Collection

I’ve been looking for some wall art for our bathroom, and thought I’d begin by finally giving a home to a small collection I’ve accumulated: small because I’ve only got six of them and they’re all only an inch or two tall.

To display the collection I started looking for some sort of shadow box. Any sort of old tray or frame would have worked and by being flexible I was able to find this great old wooden wall hanging for 50 cents at a thrift store. It wasn’t the German blessing that drew me to it, it was the wonderful weathered wood on the back that provided a ready-made frame. And it matched the style of the coral and shells that I wanted to show.

Once I laid out the 6 shells on the dark wood I saw that they weren’t visible against the dark wood. So I put down a few watery layers of off-white acrylic paint. Then, using a dry paintbrush, I built up 6 heavier paint spots to even further pop the shells from the background. Once the paint was dry I used some cheap, dollar-store epoxy to glue everything down.

One artist’s trick to add some texture is to take your wet paint and sprinkle salt onto it. As the salt dries it pulls up little puddles of paint water, which leaves a bunch of tiny speckles in the dried paint. And don’t brush off the dried salt; it adds a nice little sparkle in the background (you can see it in the picture below).

Here’s the final display, all ready for the wall. My little shell collection is finally safe (it certainly wasn’t doing very well at the bottom of the junk drawer) and I’ll smile every time I see it up on the wall.


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