How to Make a Seashell Wind Chime

Some crafts do not go as planned. Some crafts cause curse words to fly out. Some crafts cause physical pain and even leave a mark.

My seashell wind chime was one such craft.

See, while browsing Big Lots one day, I came across a selection of seashell wind chimes, very reasonably priced. I exclaimed, "How cute! Wait, I could make this! It's just seashells and twine. Just drill some holes." My husband agreed. "Yea, that'd be hella easy. I could help you drill them."


Since I got the idea for this craft at a store, I didn't even think to see if other people made such wind chimes. (A Pinterest search shows, yea, they're kinda popular.) I decided I could just wing it.

So I pulled out my seashell collection, dating back over 20 years, gathered from the coasts of California, Hawaii and Florida, and selected 20 shells to use.

And these are the steps I learned to do ... and not to do.

1. Plot out the design of your shells, and if you think necessary, mark the planned holes with a pen. You can also incorporate beads or small bells into your chime. The sound of wind chimes annoys my husband, so I skipped that part. I arranged four rows of five shells, in order from largest to smallest, with an abalone shell in the center of each row.

2. Practice on a throwaway shell. Lie it face-down on a block of wood, so
the smooth, inside of the shell faces up. To collect the shell dust, drill inside of a box or other container.

3. Hold the drill straight, apply light pressure and slowly drill into the seashell using a ceramic drill bit. If you don't have a ceramic drill bit, use the smallest bit you have and make patience your mantra. We started with a 1/8 bit and it was about as painfully slow as "The Tree of Life." After much frustration and way too little progress, I Googled "How the hell to drill into a seashell," and we bought a ceramic bit.

4. Drill just below the top-center of most shells. For abalone shells, we found it easier to drill just below center, closer to the points of the shells. Even with a ceramic bit, some shells took time and a lot of slow, steady pressure to drill. That's what she said.

5. Feed the twine (or string or whatever) up through the holes, starting with the bottom shell of each strand, so the line of twine runs along the backs of the shells.

6. Secure the shells in place, if needed. Tie knots. Don't use glue. I used hot glue. I use hot glue for everything because it's easy and I like easy. But even though I tried to ensure the correct positioning of each shell, some buggers glued a bit wonky. And one of the temperamental shells burned my thumb. It blistered. And seriously hurt. Don't burn your thumb.

7. Hang the completed strands on your item of choice. If you really want that beachy vibe, use driftwood. I bent a coat hanger into a circle, tied a piece of twine to it, and then tightly wound the twine around the hanger to cover the circle.

I tied two more pieces of twine crisscross onto the circle to create a hanger.

Voila. Now you have your very own seashell wind chime. Hopefully it looks better than mine. And hopefully you crafted without injury.

Pro Tip:
Have backup shells for substitutes, especially if you use the abalone shells you've been holding onto for 20 years. They might be a bit brittle. They might break and you might just have to piece the slivers of abalone back together like a puzzle, and then squeeze out more of the hot glue that already burned your finger. Just sayin'. It might happen.