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Selling art for not a lot of clams – Shell Club holds holiday shell art sale

Lance Shearer
Eagle Correspondent
Jackie Lynch shows off a handcrafted shell angel. The Marco Island Shell Club will hold their annual pre-Christmas sale on Friday, Nov. 27, and Friday, Dec. 4, outdoors at St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

They sell seashells, and for the next two Fridays, they will “shore” sell a lot of them.

The Marco Island Shell Club will hold their Annual Holiday Shell Art Sale at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1101 N. Collier Blvd. on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4, with thousands of pieces of handcrafted shell art. Of course, this year, everything is different, and the club’s holiday sale is no exception.

It is at a new church, on a new day, and most notably, new health precautions will be in place.

“We’re holding the sale outside, on the covered walkways,” said Shell Club president Cindy Wesolowski. “We’ll be spacing out the tables, encouraging social distancing, and providing multiple payment points to help keep everyone safe.”

They also strongly request attendees wear face masks. On Monday, representatives of the club met at their club’s “seashell shed” on Marco Lake Drive to show off some of the creations, and three out of the four wore masks featuring seashell art.

This year, they have even more shell art inventory on hand. The coronavirus scare hit last spring just before the club’s major show in March, forcing its cancellation, so all the sale items that had been made for that expo are available, along with the new pieces that club members have been busily making with their glue guns, paint brushes, and stick-on eyes.

Many of the items are Christmas-themed, with angel tree ornaments made from angelwing shells, Santas crafted from whelks, and sand dollars decorated with a variety of motifs including Christmas trees, Santa Claus and beach scenes, many of them localized with “Marco Island” painted on them – perfect for family back home, or here for that matter. Many of the pieces are traditional, but an Elvis “star” fish complete with jumpsuit, guitar, and sunglasses brings the whimsy.

The prices are set, deliberately, to encourage multiple purchases. With many items under $10 – the Elvis starfish goes for $10 – there is something for everyone, and in everyone’s price range. There are miniature Christmas trees made entirely from shells, with a lighted version selling at $55, jewelry, shell-framed mirrors, elaborately inlaid tissue boxds covers, and seashell animals.

While they will literally have untold thousands of shell creations for sale – no one is inclined to count each individual piece and come up with a total – the club’s seashell shed holds many more shells, all sorted into bins, and waiting for their chance to become part of a burrowing owl ornament or a shell-bedecked seahorse.

A long-established Marco Island tradition, the /holiday shell sale always draws enthusiastic buyers.

“We’ll have people lined up at nine o’clock,” said workshop chair Becky Miller. Coming right before the holidays, “this is a much-anticipated sale.”

Money raised by the club goes to education programs conducted by the Friends of Rookery Bay, and has created two endowed scholarships for FGCU students studying marine biology and environmental science.

The club is hopeful they will be able to hold their annual show in March, with artistic and scientific projects displayed in addition to another shell art sale, but for now, they are concentrating on the two Fridays at the end of November and the beginning of December, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 1101 N. Collier Blvd. For more information, go online to www.marcoshellclub.com.