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Oyster Shell Decor: How To Make Trinket Dishes

Watch out Anthropologie! Today we’re making our own oyster shell decor with just a few inexpensive supplies. These trinket dishes are so on trend (and so expensive) but we’ve discovered how easy it is to turn oyster shells into some cute home décor using decorative paper napkins and Mod Podge!
Author: Beth Kingston


  • shells ( oyster or clam work best)
  • white acrylic paint
  • gold acrylic paint
  • mod podge (matte or gloss)
  • decorative paper napkin
  • foam paintbrush
  • detail/thin paintbrush



  • If you got your oyster shells from a restaurant, grocery store, or from last night’s dinner, do the following 5 steps. However, if you got your oysters from Amazon or the craft store, I would only do steps 1, 4, and 5.
    SUPPLIES FOR CLEANING: Plastic Bucket, Measure cup, Bleach, Water, Dish Soap, Sponge or Scrub Brush, Paper Towels, Gloves, and Apron
  • Place your oyster shells in a throwaway plastic bucket.
  • Create a mixture of 50% bleach and 50% warm water and pour this over your oyster shells (in the bucket) and let them sit for 30 minutes.
    TIP: Since we are dealing with bleach you will want to wear gloves and an apron while doing this step and step 3. Also, you may need to let your oyster shells sit for longer than 30 minutes if the dirt is not coming off.
  • After the oyster shells have been in the mixture for 30 minutes, pour out the bleach/warm water mixture.
  • Pour fresh warm water over the oyster shells and add a little bit of dish soap. Then scrub each oyster shell (while it’s in the water/soap mixture) using a sponge or scrub brush to remove any additional dirt.
  • When the oyster shells are clean and have a smoother finish, place them onto a paper towel and let them dry.
    TIP: Place the oyster shells with the outside down onto your paper towel.


  • If shell has any dark spots use white acrylic paint to cover. If there are no dark spots you are ready for step two!
  • Separate layers of paper napkin (there are usually two). Keep the decorative layer and discard the plain layer.
  • Cut or tear napkin to slightly larger than the shell.
  • Add a thin layer of mod podge to shell and immediately apply napkin, starting in the center and working your way to the edges, gently tapping the napkin so it adheres to the Mod Podge.
  • Tear away the excess napkin from the edges.
  • Add a second thicker layer of mod podge to shell. Let dry.
  • Use detail paintbrush to add gold acrylic paint to the edges of the shell. Let dry. Once your shell is dry, you are ready to display it!