She Saves Shells Steadily

Petrified Sand Dollar

My first view of the ocean was in 1975. We moved to San Diego. Drove in through the Orange groves. That first night, the fog rolled in. I still remember how bright the sky was. And how moist the air felt. It seemed magical to an eight-year-old. I loved it, still do.

None of these are from that first beach visit, but I did collect the sand dollars above. The dark one is “petrified”. Hard as a rock. The smallest is smaller than a dime. Less than a half inch in diameter.

Glass Houses

I often think, “Hey, I should paint a shell!” Lord knows I have plenty to choose from. Their complexity sort of intimidates me though. But I did attempt the large one above.

Shell in pen and Inktense pencils. 4 x 6. 2015 Sheila Delgado
Shell in pen and Inktense pencils. 4 x 6. 2015 Sheila Delgado
Green Tusk
Ebony & Ivory – Black Murex.
Strawberry top, a sand cookie and more purple.
Sea Biscuit

Above, sand stars, a sea biscuit, and a keyhole sand dollar. The two white Augers below are attached like Siamese twins.

Assorted Smalls
To The Point
White Stripes
Sincerely Small Shells
Tiny Treasures

I remember collecting these miniature shells. I was at Bonita Cove in San Diego. I spent most of the afternoon walking the beach and sifting the sand. All I had were my hands and a Ziploc bag. The water’s edge was loaded with shells. I remember I filled the bag and then started putting the larger shells in my pockets.

I cleaned out my cobalt jars the other day, and I finally took the time to separate the shells by size. I set aside the tiny and small shells. The medium and large went back into the jars, organized by types. Next, I organized the tiny and smalls by type as well. I lucked out and found mini jars on clearance. Perfect!

All that work to find the tiniest shells I have ever seen! Well, now I can see them whenever I like. They are no longer figments buried at the bottom of a blue jar.

Filing this under things that bring me joy. And calling it done.

Eenie, Meenie, Mighty Tiny
Hummer Nests
Crazy Shell Lady.

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
— Jacques Yves Cousteau

Are you a collector? Tell me all about it in a comment 😉

15 thoughts on “She Saves Shells Steadily

  1. Katie Jeanne Wood

    Aww..loved reading your childhood memories, and seeing your huge collection of shells. Bravo for making a serious attempt at painting the shells, also! 🙂 I don’t think I’d ever attempt it myself, looks so complicated. I don’t collect anything other than art supplies. 🙂

  2. Sandra Mucha

    Hi Sheila! That is a serious seashell selection. Hehe. I enjoy collecting postcards. I don’t think I have a San Diego one. I love the view from Coronado Beach. Guessing there are lots of shells to be found there?.. Happy collecting! 🙂

    1. Sheila Post author

      I don’t think I have one from there either. I do have some extras from La Jolla. If you leave me your address, I’ll send you one.? I won’t publish it.

  3. lanagordonrast

    Wonderful story about your childhood and on the shells you collected. The way you sorted them and displayed them, I can see as very inspirational for more paintings. I would love to see a painting on just the texture of the shells and the emotions that you felt when you collected them.

    1. Sheila Post author

      Thank you Lana 🙂 Great idea! As a kid, looking for shells is like… winning a prize. You never know if you are gonna find some, and when you do – WOO WHOOO! LOL 🙂

  4. Terry Owenby

    I adore your shell collection, Sheila, and I love how you sorted them. I have collected some shells but don’t have all that many compared to you. 😉 The Pacific NW coast doesn’t offer much in the way of sand dollars or shells and what we do find are usually broken. After close to 40 years in this area, we are moving to Florida, a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico. I’m going to try what I hear is called “shelling”, and can’t wait to add some new colors and kinds to my shell collection. When I do, I’m going to remember your gorgeous collection and how you sorted it. Right now I have large and tiny all in the same big glass jar. As you have done, it would be nice to see the tiny ones! Thank you for sharing your shell story. I have really enjoyed it.

    1. Sheila Post author

      Hi Terry! Don’t forget to send me your new address when you do. 😉
      I had to look that up, shelling, and oh boy! Some of the beaches have a blanket of shells just waiting for you 🙂 LOL. You will have to share your finds with us 🙂
      There are so many cool ways to display them. I say them on a mantle in fancy curvacious jars. But I am not fancy, LOL 🙂
      I have some small jars with sand from Hawaii. I saw that in a magazine too. An outdoorsy couple saved dirt from their travels. Their mantle was lined with jars of earth in all colors. It was really fun.
      How soon are you moving? I am still trying to get postcards out by the middle of next month. But it might be later than that.
      So glad you enjoyed the post Terry, awesome to hear from you 🙂

  5. Val van der Poel

    Wow! I have only been to the sea a few times and never even looked for shells. I am an inland girl more at home in the mountains and forests but I do have a few shells – mostly from garage sales – lol. All I can say is What a great collection!

    1. Sheila Post author

      I am fond of the mountains as well Val. I grew up in Colorado, and the Rockies hold fond memories 🙂 There I collected rocks from the river, pine cones, leaves. LOL 🙂

  6. dotty seiter

    I collect prose poems, i.e. lines of prose, mostly from novels, that jump off a page and speak aloud to me as petite poems.

    intersection of your collection and mine:

    I sat there, on the second floor
    watching the back of Walter
    as he left me to thumb through the pages,
    whisper the names out loud.
    False Angel Wing, Dwarf Tellin,
    Atlantic Strawberry Cockle,
    Three-lined Pandora,
    Unequal Spoon Clam,
    Blood Ark, Rough-Mantled Doris,
    Comb Bittersweet, Warty Sea Cat,
    White Paper Bubble,
    Mouse Cone, Ida’s Miter,
    True Tulip Snail,
    Lightning Whelk,
    Emerginate Dogwinkle,
    Crescent Cressinella,
    Gum Boot Chiton,
    Bleeding Tooth,
    Common Baby’s Ear.

    Leah Hager Cohen, HEAT LIGHTNING

    1. Sheila Post author


      (Walter. It’s quite a formal name, isn’t it? Sleepless in Seattle)

      Checking on this book. Checking each of those mentioned. 😉
      That will give me something to do when I am dozing because I couldn’t sleep tonight. Today.

      I picked up your book yesterday. Thought of you 🙂 Your tiny book of prose is a treasure 🙂

      Smiling… @}~~ :o)

  7. laurelle

    Good morning, Sheila! This morning in Spain I woke up early and walked to the sea and along the shore. There is news of recordbreaking heat coming and I could feel the sun already hot on my skin. Along the shore break are shells, mostly cockles, scallops. I’ve lived a few places as you know; so when that happens you sometimes lose your bearings. So over the decades the sea has become my home. Wherever I am in the world, the seashore is my–sorry for the pun–safe harbour. And shells…oh, the shells. Your lovely watercolour captures their gentle beauty and form. Your glass containers full of these marvels are not just a collection; each has their moment in your life when you found it and treasured it enough to make it part of your world in your home. They too bring me much joy, as did this post of yours today. Thank you!

    1. Sheila Post author

      Your descriptive story brought me JOY Laurelle. Thank you 🙂 I forgot to mention, I have collected sand as well. Funny, I don’t have any from San Diego beaches. I do from a few In Hawaii though. And you said it (I forgot to, LOL), they all remind me of the day or the trip. A great meal with friends or family.
      How JOYful Laurelle, your morning, and being so close to the sea.
      Stay cool and hydrated 😉


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