Give it Some Mussel (Make Your Own Crushed Shell Inlay)

shell inlay small done
In Add a Little Sparkle I used glitter to make an inlay for wood. This time I am going to make my own crushed shell inlay for a more natural result. I am lucky enough to live by the coast so I popped down to the shelliest of my local beaches to see what I could use.
There were a lot of mussel shells, which have a nice mother of pearl sheen to the inside of them.
shells on beach
After looking for a while I found that some of them were a beautiful blue on the outside too, so I chose those ones.

I took them home and gave them a good wash to get any sand and dirt off them.
mussels in seive small
Then laid them out to dry.
mussell grid small
When they were all dry I ground them up with my mortar and pestle.
pestle small
I have a nice heavy stone one so it was robust enough to handle the shells. There are various methods for crushing stone and shell for inlay, including specialist stone crushers, however I managed fine without.
ground up small
How fine you grind the shells is up to you and the result you desire. A fine powder will give an opaque result and larger ‘chunks’ will catch the light more. I used an uneven mixture of both for my test piece. I did the inlay in exactly the same way as I did in Add a Little Sparkle, filling the hole with the crushed shells then topping it up with super glue.
shell inlay small
This is what it looks like after having dried for 24 hours and being sanded. The circle on the top right is the glitter inlay I used last time and the two on the left are the mussel shell inlay I just made.

Inlays can be made from just about anything and I am looking forward to experimenting with other materials soon.


2 thoughts on “Give it Some Mussel (Make Your Own Crushed Shell Inlay)

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