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Shell Themes & Variations: Finding Quilting Inspiration at the Shoreline

In my heart, I’m a beach girl who enjoys nothing more than the sound of the shore break and the feel of sea spray on my skin. Now that I’ve got tetchy, ballet-damaged feet, sand-walking is the only thing that soothes them in a truly satisfying way. Consequently, when I visit my parents in Florida, I make daily pilgrimages to the beach for a sand-and-saltwater therapy and to enjoy one of my very favorite places on the planet.

Dates & Places:  FL beach

One of upsides of my ritual is the opportunity to treasure hunt along the shore. Yeah, well, I’m really in search of errant doubloons washed ashore from sunken treasure fleets, but discoveries of “pieces of eight,” although not unheard of, are scarce.  Shelling is the reliable seaside treasure hunt.  Just a few weeks ago, as I walked along the shore, I spotted a very common shell with a striking white stripe.

Inspiration-J:  Shell 1

Isn’t Mother Nature interesting?

Inspiration-J:  Shell collection

Typically, I can’t stop at picking up one. Each exemplar of this basic shell had different bold patterns of white and rusted tan.

Inspiration-J:  Ombre shell

Look at that:  Mother Nature is on trend with an ombre shell!

After my first walk, I riffled through the shells my sister displays on a bookshelf in the guest room of our parent’s house. When we’re visiting at the same time, we get to share that room and sleep on the original twin beds from our childhood home. What a treat since we’ve both been known to snore–plus she’s a night owl and I’m not! Back to the narrative:  that’s when I spotted the elongated snail shell with ombre coloration in Laurie’s purchased collection.

Inspiration-J:  Shell arrangement

Then I just had to go all “quilty” with her purchased shells and my findings and compose a color, pattern, and texture story.

Inspiration-J:  Ombre shell 2

I couldn’t exactly run off with Laurie’s treasures and so I hit our favorite shell store TerMarsch Groves where they serve fresh-squeezed OJ to shoppers while they browse Florida treasures like key lime marmalade, shark-teeth necklaces, seasonal citrus, preserved gator heads–yup and yuck–and shells. I was in pursuit of my own ombre shell and found one with a smidge more visual drama.

Inspiration-J:  Shell ensemble

When I got back to California I composed a mini vignette in similar colors and textures with my shell stash–yes, I have shell and fabric stashes!

There’s something about this pairing that pleases me. Perhaps it’s the soothing neutrals and the markings that play with light and shadow.

Fabric-J:  Stash crash

I crashed my stash and pulled fabrics that keyed off the shell markings and colors–mid-range neutrals were scarce, but I’m sure I can find those middle notes without much trouble. I like these quasi-academic exercises; aside from sharpening color, pattern, and scale selection skills, it’s also a good way to refresh stash recall. Hey, fancy that:  a fabric treasure hunt–it’s not pirate treasure, but close. Happy hunting!

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