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Shore Things Seaside Finds

Beachcombing is a universal pastime enjoyed by most when walking along a beach anywhere in the world. We all have picked up random bits and pieces and taken them home as souvenirs to join collections already accumulating. Toby Preston showcases creative ways to display your treasure.

June 13, 2018
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Pacific Island Living

Pacific Island Living

June 13, 2018

The oldest recorded piece of jewellery was discovered in Israel and dated at between 100,000 and 135,000 years old and is made of shells. Much more recently – well ‘only’ 2,600 years ago – Aboriginal women in Tasmania were making fine whole shell necklaces which represent a cultural tradition that is still practised today by Palawa female elders.

For such a casual pastime there is actually a lot of science behind the collecting and classifying of shells; it’s called ‘conchology’ and is the subject of many field guides and books for those who take more than a passing interest in what I always thought of as the mobile homes of molluscs or the discarded carapace of crabs. Indeed, whenever we have children visiting in the Pacific they’re fascinated by the many hermit crabs that wander into the house at the end of the day, watching them move about has become a sort of tropical alternative to television.

But it’s not just jewellery that shells have been used for as creative adornment, there’s a long tradition of using mother-of pearl in particular to decorate furniture, they have also been used as a form of currency and as musical instruments, they feature in various religious ceremonies and as art or architectural decoration. So they are endlessly adaptable and easily transformed into DIY art and decor items. Frame them, display them, thread them, polish them, and admire them.

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Pacific Island Living