Coastal décor inspired DIY gift idea for that special friend, mother, or loved one. How to decoupage oyster shells. Perfect as a trinket dish, ring holder, jewelry dish, paper clip holder or coffee table accent. Feminine, artistic and classically beautiful.

how to decoupage oyster shells

This summer, I traveled to Kennebunkport, Maine. As a result, I saw these beautiful handmade decoupage shells. They inspired me to craft them as gifts. In particular, as DIY Christmas gifts or a Mother’s Day gift idea.

Since my friends live in New England, these oyster shell jewelry dishes are perfect. They are a beautiful accent to any coastal or beach styled home.

*Some resources in my article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here

materials and tools for oyster dish

  1. If you don’t live near the ocean, where do you find oyster shells? I found my 4 to 5 inch oyster shells on Amazon.
  2. Paint brush set and these sponge brushes for painting.
  3. Gloss Mod Podge
  4. White acrylic paint. I chose Oyster White by Delta Creative Ceramcoat.
  5. Patterned napkins of your choosing. Pick a small print so that you will see more of it in your design. My cocktail paper napkins come from Germany but can be found on You can find additional napkin designs at Boston International and Harlow and Grey.
  6. Gold leafing paint. A little goes a long way.

Step 1: How to prepare oyster shells for decoupage

Clean and inspect

To begin with, carefully remove the oyster shells from the shipping bag. Inspect them for chips or cracks.

While the shells arrive cleaned from the supplier, I gave mine a quick scrub. Specifically, with a brush and warm water.

Obviously, you don’t want any sand or debris sticking to your seashells. As a result, it will show up in your paint and glue.

I allowed mine to dry on a wire cooling rack. This took several hours. With that in mind, leave your crafting supplies in an area you can return to.

As an illustration, check out my video tutorial. It will quickly explain my decoupaged oyster shells via time lapse. Or, continue reading!

how to decoupage oyster shells video

Paint Two Coats

After drying, I painted two coats of white acrylic paint to the inside of the oyster shells. The acrylic paint brush works well here. As a result, dark spots do not show through your napkins.

Initially, I made the mistake of only painting the dark spots. The result was light and dark patches showing through the napkin. Again allow to dry.

Step 2: Decoupage Oyster Shells

First, cut your paper napkin larger than the your shell. Another key point is to ensure you separate your napkin.

For example, my German napkins were 3-ply. I accidently only removed 1 layer. As a result, my jewelry dish had wrinkles in it.

Second, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the inside of your oyster shell. Utilize the sponge brush. They allow you to place glue in those significantly hard to reach crevices.

Quickly place your napkin on the shell and softly tap with your finger. Start at the center of the shell and work your way outwards. Make sure the napkin is free of air bubbles.

Immediately, tear off the remaining napkin. Specifically, around the shell edges.

Lastly, with your sponge brush, apply a layer of Mod Podge to the top. For a beautiful shine, apply multiple coats.

Step 3: Gilding oyster shells

If you want a touch of glam, add gilding to the edges. In the event that gold leaf isn’t your style, try silver or rose gold. As shown, choose a metallic color that matches your home décor or cocktail napkins.

decoupage oyster shell trinket dish gift idea


First, begin by dipping the tip of a flat artist brush into the gold paint. Then lightly tap the side of the brush to the edges. Rotate the decoupage shell until complete.

Use your artistic discretion when gilding your seashells. As each oyster is unique, some require more gold paint than others.

Once dry, you are done! Take a step back and look at your beautiful oyster shell trinket dish. Overall, mine look like hand painted ceramic, which pairs perfectly with my choice of blue and white napkins.

Purchase VS DIY Oyster Shell Dish

If you are short on time and need this handmade gift created for you, purchase it online. This Amazon shop has similar chinoiserie blue vase oyster shell dishes.


Diagnosed with Celiac Disease eleven years ago, I've been on a journey discovering what it means to be truly healthy. Join me as I share my personal fitness goals, gluten free recipes I've tried, travel tips, curly hair product reviews and all things creative.

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