Palm Tree Island Candleholder Project 3 Seashell CraftCredit: Angelo Rodriguez PhotosCredit: Angelo Rodriguez Photos


  • wood base
  • glass candle holder
  • fish
  • crab
  • palm tree
  • seashells
  • coral
  • sand
  • white glue
  • glue gun & glue sticks
  • polyurethane
  • sand paper
  • hobby brushes

The wood base for this seashell craft is a 5 x 7 inch oval with a formed edge. The top of the base is flat and can easily hold the design. It can be bought from craft supply stores, on line craft and wood stores, and some discount stores also can carry them. 

The cup for the tea light is glass and sold to hold votive candles.  This is a simple design with a flared opening and smooth lines. They can be bought from craft stores, candle stores, and glass stores both on and off line. The wide opening gives easy access to the tea light for lighting and disposal. 

Gel candle supply stores often carry figures in the shape of fish and crabs. That is also where the palm tree was found. Take a look for the figures their embed section. They can be made of glass, porcelain, or resin. You may need to look at a few of the stores to find something you like. 

If beachcombing for the seashells, coral, and sand used in this project is out of the question, you may find these items in a seashell store. They often sell mixtures of seashells in various sizes ranging from small to large. Get a mixture of the smaller ones. If they sell broken or shaped seashells consider getting some of them. The variety will add interest to the seashell craft you are making. Coral also can be bought from seashell stores. Buy small broken mixed pieces. 

Try using craft sand if beach sand is not available. The texture of craft sand is different than beach sand but it is more consistent and readily available from craft stores. They even have sand dyed in different colors which could add an interesting alternative to this seashell craft. 

The island for the palm tree is made of two larger (1 inch to 1 ½ inch diameter) seashells. These are clam seashells that have been shaped by the ocean. Any seashell that has a hollow interior will work. Scallop seashells come to mind. 

Standard white glue, which stays wet after application but then dries hard, is best for seashell craft projects. The wet glue allows for repositioning the various parts used and makes an excellent adhesive to sprinkle sand on. 

Polyurethane paint can be found in hardware stores. It is available as a clear liquid or in spray cans. Use clear high gloss, gloss, or semi-gloss paint. The sandpaper – medium grit and fine grit - can also be found in hardware stores. 

Accessories for this seashell craft can include pearls, marbles, starfish, etc. As an alternative to plain wood color, use a stain. A dark stain such as walnut with really highlight the design on top of the base, a cherry stain can add class to the shell craft project, and a light stain will allow the woods markings to show through.

Step 1 - Prepare the Base for the Seashell Craft

Examine the wood base. Remove any stickers on the formed edge or top surface. If the stickers leave sticky residue behind it can usually be removed with a rag and a little paint thinner. There may be stickers on the bottom of the base. If you plan to finish the bottom of the base, one reason would be to provide protection for moisture, then remove the stickers and clean. 

Use medium grit sandpaper to smooth down any rough areas especially on the formed edge.  

These inexpensive wood bases are machine manufactured, probably in a hurry, and rough areas appear readily on them. 

Use fine grit sandpaper to lightly sand all over the base. This will remove patina on the wood and help it absorb any stain, varnish, or the polyurethane better and more evenly. 

Wipe the base clean. You want to remove the wood dust and grit so the paint or stain with stick to the wood. 

To protect the wood paint it with the polyurethane, or use a stain and then use the polyurethane. This base was painted by a semi-gloss liquid polyurethane paint to preserve it in as natural color as possible. If you prefer to use stain on your wood try Oak, Cherry or Walnut.

Palm Tree Island Candle Holder Seashell Craft Project 3Credit: Angelo Rodriguez PhotosCredit: Angelo Rodriguez Photos

Step 2 - Prepare the Glass Candle Holder

The glass candle holder for this seashell project needs to be undamaged. If it is chipped or cracked – do NOT use it. The heat from the lit tea light it is supposed to hold will cause it to crack or chip further.  Wash an undamaged votive glass with soap and water, rinse then dry. Alternatively, run it in your dishwasher with a load of dishes. 

The seashell craft design shown on the cup uses small clam type seashells and pieces of seashells in different shapes, sizes, and colors. They are placed around the edge of the glass just under the flare to form a ring. A few larger seashells and pieces are placed below the ring.  Since white glue is used, each seashell piece needs to be glued in place then the glue has to dry before the next seashell piece is placed. Prop the glass cup to keep it from rolling. You can try to place more than one piece of seashell at a time, just watch they don’t slide off the glass. 

To apply sand to the seashell candleholder, first place newspaper, paper, or a flexible place mat under your work. Apply a drop or two of glue to the exposed glass and use a brush to spread it around the glass. Keep applying glue until all the exposed glass is covered then sprinkle sand over the wet glue. If you used the right amount of glue, the sand will stick to it and not flow down. Let the glass cup sit on its bottom for a while so the glue has time to set and dry. 

DO NOT apply glue or sand to the bottom of the glass candle holder, nor the inside surface. 

Gather up spilled sand and return it to your container. If you wish, clean any excess sand from the seashells. 

Once this component of the seashell project is dry, apply a coat of polyurethane over the seashells and the sand. This will protect them, bring out some colors, and provide a nice sheen to the craft.

Step 3 – Making the island

To make the island for this seashell project, place one of the 2 larger clam seashells (or scallop) with the hollow facing down on the table. Place the other one on top of this seashell with the hollow facing up. The upward facing hollow will become the island. Glue them together and let dry. 

Place the palm tree in the upper seashell. Use the glue gun to fill in the hollow and cover the base of the palm trees. The hot glue will level out. You may need to hold the palm tree (wear a glove if the palm tree feels hot), until the hot glue cools down and sets. 

After the hot glue cools and sets, cover it with white glue. Sprinkle sand over the white glue and let it dry. Finally add a few small seashells (dove seashells are used here) in front of the palm tree.

Step 4 - Putting Everything Together and Finishing

Place the wood base for the seashell craft in front of you. The edge away from you becomes the back edge. Position the votive candle holder centered on the base but toward the back edge. This should leave room in front for the seashells, crab, fish and coral. 

Place the palm tree island to the left of the votive glass. Check they both fit and reposition as desired. 

Apply glue to the bottom of the glass cup and set it on the base. Give it a light push to set it in place. 

Apply glue to the bottom of the island and set it back on the base. A light push will help to set it in its place. 

Apply glue to the coral piece or pieces and set it on the base. Larger seashells or seashell pieces can also be glued to the base at this time. Leave the smaller seashells for after the sand is applied. Let seashell project sit until the glue dries. 

Now apply glue and spread the glue on any exposed wood surfaces on the top of the base. Spread it right up to the edges of the votive cup, the island, the coral piece, and larger seashells. When done with the glue sprinkle sand over the glue to cover completely and let dry. 

To remove the loose sand, tilt the seashell craft on its side. The loose sand will flow off the shell craft. Collect the loose sand and return it to your sand container. 

Now apply glue to the bottom of the smaller seashells and place them on the base around the coral pieces and the votive cup. Leave a space for the crab and the fish, then apply glue to the lower surfaces of each and put them in place.  Allow to dry. 

Once they are dry apply polyurethane to the seashells, the coral and the sand. You can also use the polyurethane on resin figures but not on glass, porcelain, or ceramic figures.

Palm Tree Island Candleholder Seashell Craft Project 3Credit: Angelo Rodriguez PhotosCredit: Angelo Rodriguez Photos

Using the Tea Light Candle Holder Seashell Craft

Now that you have finished the seashell project, give it try. Place a tea light (these are small candles that come within a holder of metal or plastic) inside the glass. Light the candle and enjoy the gentle glow of light.


To prevent fire, please be careful when using the seashell craft. Keep it away from anything that can catch fire (such as curtains, or blankets). Keep out of reach of children and pets. Do not leave candles burning un-attended. 

Children should be under adult supervision if attempting this craft. Small components, paints, and glue could be a hazard to them.   

Watch the glue gun. Hot tips and hot glue can burn.


Use a sheet of paper, newspaper, or a flexible place mat under your seashell project. This will help protect your tabletop and allow you to easily recover any loose sand to return it to your container. 

If the island won’t hold with just standard glue, try placing an extra bead of glue around the junction where the two seashells meet. You could even try a bead of hot glue all the way around. It will be easier to do this before the island is glued in place on the wood base. 

Small seashell pieces can be created by smashing unwanted larger seashells. Replace the formed seashells with coral or larger seashells.