Blott Kerr Wilson, Shell Houses, & the Magic of Natural Materials

Do you know much about Shell House history?  I don’t, and I wish I did.  But World of Interiors recently did a whole feature that is worth a read if you are interested (I think they did a particularly good job with the title – “Schist Just Got Real.” (that is some clever copywriting)

I have seen shell houses in gardens here and there, mostly in pictures or on the grounds of old English estates.  The classic folly is a perfect place to lean into the idea of using shells – to decorate or make something more interesting. The whole idea of folly is to forgo any sort of usefulness and just make something that is fun to look at.

A chair made of shells on the beach.
The mussle folly chair – Tain mussel project by Blott Kerr-Wilson.

Shell houses and grottoes were quite fashionable at one time. Trends come and go, though, and I am wondering if there might be a good reason to bring this one back.  Who doesn’t have bags of shells that they brought home from that one vacation? Apparently, shell houses used to be the culmination of gathering shells from your travels (a lot of shells and a lot of travels seem like a slightly more interesting status symbol than a new car or McMansion). To go all in on a building or a room is perhaps out of the realm of many of us – I do that that we can make some interesting small pots or other embellished garden features.

Inspired by Blott Kerr- Wilson’s Shell Art

If you are looking for some fabulous inspiration for shell art, Blott Kerr-Wilson is someone whose work I’ve admired for years. She is a shell artist who has been working to restore old shell houses that still exist but is also creating a new generation of these fascinating structures and art pieces. (Her Instagram is a great way to keep up and keep inspired)

The shells are arranged in a pattern.

Moody shell wall Art

By Blott Kerr-Wilson

A cheery shell-embellished Bathroom

By Blott Kerr Wilson

A blue wall with sea shells on it.

You can also check out Blott’s Website to see some of the garden follies she has created or restored. Don’t miss the roundhouse – it is my personal favorite – I love the animals and the four-season theme, and looking up at the dark ceiling is magical.

An owl sitting on a branch made of sea shells by blott kerr wilson
An owl made from 11 different types of shells for the roundhouse project. By Blott Kerr Wilson.
A bowl of flowers sits on a window sill.
The shell house at Belcombe Court with flowers by @kittengraysonflowers and @hana.snow. Shell art by Blott Kerr-Wilson.
A shell art wall with a celtic cross and animals on it. Garden Folly
A Celtic cross shrine in an Irish garden made of locally sourced cockles, mussels, otter, and razor shells. (read more about Celtic Gardens)
A wall of sea shells on a wall.
Shell art wall ornament (Artist is unknown) in The Grotto in Kuskovo estate in Moscow, Russia. Built in the 18th century, Kuskovo was the summer country house and estate of the Sheremetev family. By Ekaterina

More inspiration for seashell art, garden follies, and other creative ideas for making your garden special.

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