DIY Decorative Shell Trinket Trays

A few months ago I ordered decoupage shell trinket trays from a wholesale vendor and ended up selling a dozen very quickly in my local shop. People are drawn to them for their organic shape with the gilded edges and pretty patterns inside.

They take weeks to replace via a wholesale vendor because they’re handmade so I thought I’d simply make them myself from now on.


In my local shop whenever I sell them, I package them up in small white boxes because they make a great gift.

Three shell shapes work well for this project: oyster, clam, and scallop. The scallop shape is the flattest so I started making my own (these ones below) to get the hang of it. Next I’ll move to the more curvaceous clam and oyster shells like the ones I’ve been selling in my shop.

To recreate this project here are the supplies you’ll need: 1) shells 4-6” in size (see sources below); 2) decoupage medium like Mod Podge; 3) patterned paper napkins; 4) gilding paint, I used this one in the brass shade; 5) medium and thin tip paintbrushes; 6) craft scissors.

I had some leftover patterned paper napkins from this vase project, so I ordered two more packages of napkins for this round.

napkins I used:

caspari cocktail / flower & butterfly

pink blooms/ ditsy floral

More suggested napkin patterns that would look lovely inside shells:

bloom pink / herbs botanical / garden party

blue flower / sea fans / rifle floral

Here are the three shell shapes for reference for if you want to make some of your own and need to order supplies:

I used the shells on the left for this project, but the larger lion’s paw would work well too.

4-5 inch white scallop / 5-6 inch lion’s paw scallop

The steps are simple, first round up your supplies then get started!

Step One: Clean shells and allow them to fully dry. Paint a layer of decoupage medium like Mod Podge on the inside to fully coat the shell with a medium size craft paintbrush. Carefully separate a paper napkin (they are either 2 or 3 ply) and using only the patterned piece, layer it gently on top of the decoupage medium.

Step Two: Pressing down in the center lightly with your fingers, slowly pat the napkin around the edges of the shell moving from the center to the outside edges. Take your time so that you’re careful not to tear the paper napkin.

Step Three: Once the inside of the shell is fully covered, use scissors to trim the outside edges of the shell to remove any excess napkin. Trim as close to the shell’s edge as possible.

Step Four: Add a thin layer of decoupage medium to the top of the shell on top of the patterned napkin with a medium size craft paintbrush. Allow the layer to dry for two hours, then add second thin layer of decoupage medium and allow to dry an additional two hours.


Step Five: With a thin tip paintbrush, paint the edges of the shells with a gold or silver edge. Be careful to not paint the edge too thick or the gilding will drip into the shell. Apply two THIN coats, being careful to allow the gilding paint to dry a little as you make your way around the shell, this avoids drips. Allow the gilding to dry and the shells are done!

I’ll upload a Reel on Instagram to show the steps start to finish.

Keep in mind Mod Podge is not classified as food safe so I wouldn’t ever serve any food that is liquid, cold, or warm in these shells, but a little bit of loose sea salt does make a cute presentation.

They are perfect for holding earrings and rings too.

Let me know if you recreate your own versions, I’d love to see what patterns you choose.

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