Beach Wedding Reception Oyster Garland Centerpiece
Last December, Joy called to see if I could help with a super secret project.  She asked me to create an oyster shell garland.  I was intrigued.  She didn’t give me any specifics on the design, except that it should be about 6 feet long and would be used as a table runner.  We made arrangements for me to pick up the shells from Emily and with about a week to turn the project around, I started developing a plan.

Emily purchased the oyster shells off ebay.  I’m not sure of the cost, but I picked up about 15 boxes that contained about 20 – 25 shells each.  The shells were clean and varied in size.  At one point Joy asked me if they smelled bad – they didn’t at all!  Some of the shells had been tinted green from seaweed on the outer part of the shell and I that I thought looked really pretty.  The inside of each shell had a purplish-brown spot.  A few of the shells were chipped, but most were in great condition.  The more I worked with them, the more I appreciated how beautiful they were.

I went to Home Depot to purchase a length of chain to use as a base instead.  I ended up buying white plastic chain instead of a heavy metal chain because I remembered how heavy the shells were in the boxes.  I also picked up a pack of drill bits and some fishing line.  I didn’t want any hardware to be noticeable and take away from the design.  I actually used two packs of drill bits in the process – the shells are extremely hard and durable.  Historically in the low country, oyster shells were used to make “tabby”, a hard, concrete like mixture used to make driveways and plaster the exterior of homes. After I decided how I wanted to proceed, I sweet-talked my sweet hubby into helping.  This definitely is not a one person job! – Jeannine of Honeysuckle Wedding Company

Diy Oyster Shell Garland


Click more below for instructions and credits!

Equipment/Supply list:

  • One heavy duty drill – you will need a 3/8 – ½ horsepower drill.
  • One to two packs of drill bits.  These sell for about $10 – $15 each pack, depending on the brand of drill you have. The bits will break and you will need to replace them. We went through two packs of bits for drilling a little over 100 shells.
  • Heavy Weight Fishing Line
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Shallow bucket or tray to hold water
  • Wood block
  • Plastic chain in desired length (I used white)
  • Pliers
  • Work gloves (while drilling)
  • Safety goggles (while drilling)

1. First, we found an old ice cream bucket to hold water for the drilling.  If you have ever cut ceramic tile before, this process will seem familiar to you.  You have to drill under water, or the friction is just too much for the drill and the bits.  We used a scrap piece of wood as a base to sit the shell on.  You will press down hard during drilling and when you suddenly break though, you need something to protect your bucket and your work surface.

2. I chose to drill into the “top” of the shell so that the prettier, scalloped edge faced out from the chain.  Once my hubby had 20 or so shells drilled, I started tying them to the chain while he continued drilling.  We watched a lot of TV while we worked

3. Using the fishing line, I tied each shell to a link of chain, pulling the shell right up against the link as I tied a knot three or four times.  Then I snipped the extra line, leaving about ½ inch so the line didn’t come untied.  I almost used white yarn for this project, but I don’t think it would have been sturdy enough and it wouldn’t have had the invisible quality that the fishing line has.  You do have to know each time about 3 – 4 times, though or they will come untied.

4. I worked down the length of chain once, then twice, then three times, each time filling in anywhere there was a gap in the chain.  I alternated the placement of the shells, tying some with the inside of the shell facing up, and some with the outside facing up. The chain and fishing line makes the entire garland adjustable.

DIY by Honeysuckle Wedding Company // Illustration by Hannah Lee


Comments (18)

kate holt | Reply

who does these beautiful illustrations? They are so pretty!

emily | Reply

Hey Kate

My sister, Hannah Lee, is the illustrator.




Charlotte | Reply

This is GORGEOUS! I can’t wait to see more in the magazine!!!

Ciara | Reply

Looks like all the hard work paid off, the end result is absolutely stunning! Well done everyone!

Linn | Reply

This is SO butiful!

Wedding Decorating Ideas | Reply

Oh! really nice Idea about Wedding Decorating Ideas
Great Thanks!

Hayley @ Tailored Engagemetns | Reply

This oyster shell garland is gorgeous. What an elegant and sophisticated way to carry out a oceanic/seaside decor.

Amanda @ Burlap and Denim | Reply

This is so beautiful! I’ve collected a bunch of shells from CA. This is now on my to do list!

Victoria | Reply

I have a question so did you only used a bit over 100 to make a 6 foot garland or was it shorter. I would like to make this going to haave to count up my oyster shells and collect some more. This is gorgeous, can’t wait to try it.

Selena | Reply

How many shells did it take for this 6ft garland?
It’s gorgeous!

Melody antanavige | Reply

This is exactly what I am planning for my daughters wedding in charleston but am having trouble finding the oyster shells

Mary McLeod | Reply

Helpful Hint! Call a local seafood restaurant ;)

Carole Brooks | Reply

Hi – Was wondering if u know of anyone I can get to make one of the lovely 6′ oyster wreaths shown above? Please contact me, if u know where I can order one. Thank you.


Mariah Magic | Reply

Wonderful and stylish

kim | Reply

Thank you for this detailed instruction of the beautiful oyster garland! I also love the table cloth fabric. Do you know where I can find this fabric?

Elizabeth | Reply

I was told by a jeweler friend of mine that when creating something out of a shell with mother of pearl, oyster shells are one of several shells that have mother of pearl, it is extremely important to take precautions no one breathes the dust. I imagine drilling a shell that is submerged in water is safe as the water would catch the dust. Still an important safety point to be aware of. Oh by the way, I love the oyster shell garland