Create and Craft

Mermaid Garden and Seashell Bottles Beach Keepsakes


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Do you love to decorate with momentos from family vacations? I am particularly fond of beach keepsakes and I am always trying to come up with new and creative ways to display my treasures of the sea.  Today I will be sharing the mermaid cove “garden” and decorative glass bottles I made using treasures from our trip to Wrightsville Beach, NC last month.

Brocante upcycled bottles seashells in glass bottles repurposed salt shaker lids

Last month? How has it already been three weeks since we left the beach? Summer is flying by now! Autumn decor is in all the stores and cooler morning temperatures are tugging at my fall loving heartstrings. School starts back in just three days which means it will be time to retire the beach themed decor and transition to fall. For the next few days at least, I want “no reminders of realities and responsibilities,”  just like this lovely mermaid in her sea cove!


Shabby chic mermaid garden upcycled mermaid seashells pearls vintage

Shabby Chic Beach Keepsakes Nautical Decor Mermaid Garden

Using the treasures I had found at the beach and a few other items, I was able to make this beautiful beach keepsake quickly and inexpensively.

Beautiful Assortment of Shells from North Carolina

While on vacation I collected some really beautiful shells, rocks, and stones. I knew I would be putting many of them in jars or pretty bottles, but I also wanted to make something unique.

Creative Beach Keepsakes Mermaid Cove Mermaid Garden Shabby Chic Nautical Decor Ideas

When I found this little mermaid in a gift shop I was inspired to make her a mermaid cove “garden” with the shells I had collected. I am really pleased with how well this project turned out! This shabby-chic style coastal decoration is definitely one of my favorite beach keepsakes so far, and it was really easy to make.

Nautical barrel beach craft beach decor coastal decor

At first I wasn’t sure what type of container I would be using as a foundation, but I figured I would luck into something eventually.  When we got home from vacation I remembered that most of the beachy decor would be on clearance at Michael’s, so I headed there first. I found this half barrel right away and I knew it would be perfect for what I had in mind. After finding the barrel I went straight home and got started.  I unpacked my ocean loot haul and the fun began! Sorting sea shells nautical decor

For inspiration, I put my favorite antique nautical picture in front of me and listened to old sea shanties as I worked, which was really fun and kept me in a beachy mood! Before starting on my mermaid garden I sorted the smaller shells and put them in glass bottles. Little bottles are inexpensive and make perfect beach keepsakes. I have enjoyed using them in vignettes all around the house for these last few weeks of summer. A few will remain in sight year round.

Beautiful coastal nautical vintage vignette with small treasures vintage fishing lure sea and seashells

After sorting all of my sea treasures, I got to work on the mermaid garden. I simply filled the barrel with larger shells on the bottom and layered shells and rocks of different sizes on the top. I used some faux spanish moss as a “sea weed” filler. I was loving how it looked at that point, but I felt like it was missing some “bling.” I had some pearl garland left over from Christmas so I just draped it around to fill in bare spots and to add more interest, and that did the trick! For a finishing touch I added the little “message in a bottle” which is actually a Christmas ornament I had already been using in a nautical vignette.

Beautiful brocante shabby chic coastal decor vintage beach themed decor mermaid seashells

My mermaid is the perfect size for relaxing among these amazing larger shells my that husband and sons found. I gave her a sea shell bikini top and a shell hat and necklace using some of the itty-bitty shells I collected.

Make a mermaid bikini with tiny seashells mermaid upcycle beach keepsake

I also used some beautiful teal green sea glass stones I purchased at Michaels. You can order  them here: Turqouise Sea Glass Decorative Fillers

Adorable upcycled mermaid scrapbooking craft shabby chic coastal decor

“She wanted no reminders of realities and responsibilities.” Ah, the mermaid life!

Nautical coastal beach craft shabby chic mermaid garden

I bought a package of sheets of scrapbook phrases at Michael’s with the intention of using  “Beautiful Dreamer,” but when I discovered this phrase on the second page it was the perfect sentiment for my creation.

Gorgeous Shabby Chic Mermaid Garden Sea Shells Keepsake

Mermaids really are lovely creatures (with the exception of using their womanly wiles to lure innocent sailors to the bottom of the depths of the ocean, never again to see the light of day)! Can we just ignore that part of the folklore and focus on the beautiful, romantic, and carefree aspects of a mermaid’s life? After all, it is important to see the positive and beautiful in all things! This mermaid certainly is beautiful to me, and even though I will be saying goodbye to most of my nautical decor this week in exchange for some transitional fall items, my mermaid garden will be on display year round in my craft room to remind me that summer will come again!

Here is a last look at a few of my beach keepsakes before the pumpkins take over!

I made some “sea salt” shakers by placing pretty orphaned toppers on my bottles and they are just so pretty and fun! I found this vintage photo of some friends at Wrightsville Beach and I simply printed it off and stuck it down in a bottle full of shells.

Style tip: Print off a small vintage postcard graphic or nautical photo and display it a small bottle along with your own treasures of the sea.

Gorgeous stack of vintage ironstone platters and seashells

I recently shared this photo on Instagram, explaining that I use the same criteria when collecting seashells and ironstone platters. I look for interesting colors, shapes, textures, patina, and a variety of sizes. I like to find them in different places and each find should have a memorable story attached. And the more, the merrier!

“Not all who wander are lost…”

I do often dream of days spent wandering along the beach, lost in thought and enjoying God’s majestic creation.  Beautiful coastal decor helps me feel more connected to the place I truly feel is part of me. In my retirement years I will call a cottage near the coast my home… with no reminders of rules and responsibilites! The cottage will be filled with an eclectic mix of found objects and decor which hold much sentimental value, as in the vignette below.

Nature inspired shabby chic brocante vignette white decor antlers seashells

Soon the excitement of fall will replace the sadness of summer’s end. Our home will be a cornucopia bursting with pumpkins and autumn decor, but I always keep a few shells around the house year round too. My decorating motto is “Surround yourself with beautiful things you love,” and since all of us are ocean lovers in this home, we must have some beach keepsakes tucked in here and there, no matter the weather or season.

How to make a mermaid garden using found objects beach keepsakes

Well my friends, I hope you were able to have a fun and relaxing summer! As my mermaid relaxes, I unfortunately must face realities and responsibilites! I am off to purchase school supplies for my middle schooler! How are you wrapping up your summer? I would love to hear from you!


*If you would like to create a similar mermaid garden, shop online at Michael’s! Be sure to look for a daily coupon on the home page!

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  • Reply Carol ("Mimi")

    I love to collect shells and to display them in my home. Your vignettes are all so attractive! You’ve displayed your beach-y items in such creative ways.
    Carol (“Mimi”) from Home with Mimi

    August 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm
  • Reply Fonda Rush

    You’re displays are lovely. We live about 45 miles south from Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington. Down where we are is Ocean Isle Beach, and we go there every once in awhile. Of course, we collect shells, too. So, soon, I will be making my own displays, so I am paying attention!!! I love how you put the photo copy inside the bottle. I will be making my displays for a cabinet. I have all kinds of natural sea (and other) specimens to display. It will be lots of fun!

    August 19, 2017 at 5:39 am
  • Reply Jann Olson

    It all came together wonderfully Amber. I love your creative mind! Cute, cute!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    August 23, 2017 at 3:17 am
  • Reply Debbie-Dabble

    Love all these ideas!! I just posted my late Summer “Under the Sea” tree!!! Stop by when you have a chance!

    July 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
    • Reply Amber Lyon Ferguson

      Oh Yay Deb! Can’t wait to see!

      July 20, 2018 at 8:56 pm
  • Reply Cecilia

    This is charming, Amber! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

    July 5, 2020 at 2:41 pm
  • Reply Kippi

    I love your gorgeous shell vignettes. I have a jar of sharks teeth that was my Grandmother’s next to my bed in my post about the headboard I linked up today. The combination of shells and vintage is my favorite!
    Have a great week,

    July 6, 2020 at 8:07 pm
  • Reply Cecilia

    Such fun beachy decor, Amber! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

    July 25, 2021 at 2:39 pm
  • Reply Michelle @ The Painted Hinge

    Amber, this is simply gorgeous! I love vintage ocean and beach decor and I am awestruck by what you did here.

    July 29, 2021 at 5:21 pm
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