Framing a painted shell


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Jul 1, 1999
Holland, PA, USA
I have a painted shell (5 1/4 x 4 1/2 ") to frame. It is beautifully painted in an intricate, Turkish design. It does not lie totally flat. How would you attach the shell to the backing? I think that it would be too fragile to do anything with a prong. Also it is not a regular shape so a sink mat would be difficult.

Silicone would probably do the trick but....I know that is a no-no!

Any ideas would be appreciated.

I think I remember reading that silicone will dissolve sea shells, although the process takes twenty years or so.

Hugh will correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm assuming that the painting is on the concave side of the shell. Can you build a nest for it to sit in to give it additional support?

And I'm also assuming sea shell. It could be some other kind of shell. Tortoise? Ostrich egg?
Pie crust? Armament? Boat? Whatcha got?

It seems to be some type of sea shell. Not a clam shell, but similar in shape. The painting is on the outside of the shell.
I do have stabilitex but I think that it would take away from the intricate detail of the art. I willtest it out, but I don't think that would be my first choice.

A sink is the best option, since the concacity
of the shell would hold the fabric high, where
it would blur the image. Everything in the frame
must be free of any acids, since shells are so
vulnerable. A window cut to fit just over the edges of the shell and a sink fitted with cotton
or crushed conservation quality tissue can hold
it and keep it chemically safe.

I agree that a sink mat would be best for reversibility but if you must use an adhesive, use Bond brand "527". It is what 'sheller's use to adhere shells in Sailors Valentines and other shell crafts. I'm becoming an expert in this stuff now.

Yes, silicone is a no-no. Also, tell your customer to be careful of direct light, shells are not colorfast.
Being spoiled by my CMC, cutting a mat to fit the outer edges of the shell might be tricky since it doesn't have a perfectly regular shape. I guess that I would have to cut the mat with the handheld cube cutter that was popular in the 80's to do decorative cuts. Any other ideas for cutting an odd shape?