Three Shell Doodled Trinket Dishes

Shell Trinket Dishes

Gifts From the Heart

There’s something really special about a gift that comes from the heart! And even better when it is practically free* and requires no special skills * okay, maybe not exactly free if you don’t keep many craft supplies on hand. Can we agree on relatively inexpensive? And did I mention quick?

We are blessed to live on a lake. (Nothing beats full time lake living!!!) When the lake levels are low, I like to hop over the seawall and gather these gorgeous shells that are usually many feet below water. I’ve shared several maker projects I’ve done with these shells, like this mirror. But this one is by far the quickest. And don’t tell the others, but I think it’s the cutest, too.

three shell ring dishes on a linen napkin on wood tray on grey marble counter

It’s the sweet freehand doodling that have these shell trinket dishes tugging at my heart so hard.

What makes them so quick and easy, is what makes them so darn sweet, so irresistible, so charming.

Remember how you would doodle in the margins of your spirals while your thoughts wandered to, and lingered on, Steve or Bruce or Dan or … (whoever it was that week) while Mr. Lorensax (or Sister Kathleen, in my case) droned on and on?

It’s the doodlement  — that’s a valid word, right? — that says I was thinking about you when I made this. And that’s true even when you are making it for yourself — isn’t self-care and loving ourselves our motto for the year?

Let’s Make Some Shell Trinket Dish:


Step 1) Get ideas for your your shells.

Mine are intended as Galentine gifts, so I am all about tiny little hand drawn hearts.

Hearts know no season, but the same can be true for flowers. What is a passion of the recipient? Maybe cute little cat faces?

I started by seaching pinterest for “doodles”. These are just a few of the ones I found. I curated a board for you of quite a variety of doodles I thought might work well in the shells. Feel free to check it out and pull from it.




Step 2) Using Micron Pens, Doodle Your Shells

3 broken shells used as tests

I had some broken shells, so I practiced on them first. Just to get the feel of the pen on the surface and the occasional bumps. Also tried red to see how color looked — oh, no! This also helped me determine the direction I wanted to take. Initially, I planned on something fuller like the on the left. I really like it, but thought for my girls, I wanted something softer and simpler and more freeform doodling.


micron pens with doodled hearts inside shells on wood table


Doodle in the shells. Don’t overthink it! Channel your middle school self. Keep a damp paper towel on hand and if you really must, you can wipe your design away and start fresh. This also means you must be careful not to smudge your work as you go along.

I’m going to bring my ovals more centered on the outer edge than on the deep pocket like these are. Either way, I just don’t think you can go wrong.



Step 3) Seal Your Doodles

Three doodled shells on a plastic cloth with spray can of sealant

Only use a spray sealant!

There are many to choose from. You can also choose between satin and gloss (I don’t recommend the matte as you would lose all the lustre of the inside of the shell). The one I used is gloss — it’s what I had on hand.

Brushing on a sealant, even lightly, can smudge your doodles or make them run a bit.

Spray lightly! After this is dry, turn the shell over and spray the backside to help keep the skin of the shell from peeling off. Two or three coats would be best.


Step 4) Edge in Gold

One shell ring dish on linen napkin on wood tray

I think this step makes them! So although it is technically optional, please don’t skip it.

Any color can work, I just think a metallic is stunning against the inside of the shell. But there are lots of options available, I’d suggest something thick and glossy.

I am crazy about the Liquid Leaf Paint from Plaid!!! And there are the Plaid FX Paints that will give you the metallic finish with a variety of color choices. [Not a sponsored post, just sharing products that I think are great!]


3 shell ring dishes on wood tray with gold ring

Aren’t these fun? Now who will you make them for?

  • Gal Pals for Gal-entines
  • Thanks to our warrior teachers
  • Secret Santa gifts
  • Hostess gift
  • Party Favors
  • Congratulations for the newly engaged
  • Thinking of you
Three shell trinket dishes on linen napkin
Pin for Doodled Shell Ring Dishes
I hope you give this a try and find it fun and creative outlet for all that doodling practice you put in many years ago!
Here's to Joy-Filled Living, Diane


  1. Karen Hay

    So cute!

  2. Brenda Satterfield

    What kind of shell is this?

    • Diane

      I will find out for you. They are all over our fresh water lake. Some kind of mussel?

      • Diane

        Sorry for the delay. I wanted to get you accurate info and the best I’ve been told is that they are fresh water mussels, native to MO lakes. No, we don’t eat them, I think they are food for all the fish that are stocked in the lake.

  3. Decorative Inspirations

    These shells came out so cute. Such a great and simple way to use nature while decorating for valentine’s day. Pinned! Thank you for sharing with us at the Home Imagined Party. -Meagan

  4. Cara

    Wow, Diane, I love these… now if only my doodles looked like yours! I know I would love a beautiful shell like this on my nightstand. When I make my next trip close to water, I will need to keep an eye out for this. Thank you for sharing your inspiration with Whimsy Home Wednesday!

  5. Lynne Zemaitis

    Diane, these shell trinket dishes are beautiful! I am excited to feature your post at Tuesday Turn About. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Diane

      Oh my goodness, thank you Lynne! Sorry for my delayed response!

  6. vicki rheaume

    very cool project. Love the inspiration

    • Diane

      Thanks bunches Vicki! Hope you give it a try — they are so addicting to make.



  1. Preschool Crafts: Airdry Clay Valentine’s Hearts – This Dear Casa - […] Shell trinket dish with heart doodles. […]
  2. Cutest Clothespins To Make - South House Designs - […] And let’s stop for a moment and talk about those washed linen trinket bags. Aren’t they the best? What…
  3. Make a Display Easel For Seasonal Printables - South House Designs - […] they just the sweetest? And here’s another sweet little gift from the heart to […]
  4. Celebrate Earth Day - Table Decor + Party Favors - South House Designs - […] So each is receiving a little shell dish I made from shells collected along the shore of that very…
  5. 29 DIY Shell Ideas (Best Ever) – Guide Me Wp - […] Source: […]
  6. The Best GALentines Day Ideas for Easy Gifts - South House Designs - […] your gals are up to some crafting. These are super duper easy to make with pretty much guaranteed […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Diane Sudhoff
key with a tags that reads "Subscribers" Next to the words "Free Printables Library"
close-up of hand holding a cell phone mock-up of an order page on top of a collage of products
Sidebar title box reading "Most Popular Outdoor Posts"

Click Image to

Jump to  Post

View of uplit trees around a patio overlooking a lake at dusk  sidebar graphic
overhead view of a DG patio sidebar graphic
View of outdoor sheer curtains snagged back on a balcony sidebar graphic
Split moss wreath hanging on french doors sidebar graphic
closeup of cup and saucer flower arrangements at each pacesetting sidebar graphic
Closeup of embroidered straw bag sidebar graphic
Copyright © 2024 South House Designs