Featured Shell Artist: Machel Spence

The Fine Shell Art Blog welcomes long-time photographer, Zoologist  Machel Spence.  Working with seashells for many years now, Machel shares with us her passion and inspiration for creating shell art.  

Machel Spence 
I have always been drawn to the sea, I grew up in South Florida and was always in the water swimming and scuba diving always searching for seashells and studying marine life. In college I majored in Zoology with a focus on cephalopods and after moving out to Seattle after college I worked at the Seattle Aquarium for many years before taking up photography full-time.

Seashell encrusted box by Machel Spence

My grandmother was a huge influence on me when I was a child, she used to pick me up from daycare and take my sister & I to the beach. We hunted for tiny shells for hours, although my shell art is very different from what she created I think she definitely planted the idea of making art out of shells in my mind at a very young age.

Shellwork in progress.

Sea Urchin collection. 

Before my grandmother died 7 years ago she sent me boxes of her loose shells and a very large sea urchin collection that I photograph quite often for inspiration. I have always had a great admiration for the old Sailors Valentines but wanted to do something different so I started using the shells to create beautiful intricate boxes. I only have one of her shell creations, she focused on making the shells look like flowers in a bouquet. It takes me about four months to create a seashell box, I'm very meticulous about lines and structure and usually have to take short breaks in order to let my neck have a rest from the tweezer work with the tinier seashells.

Seashell Encrusted Box by Machel Spence.

Urchin Photography by Machel Spence.

To purchase work by Machel Spence please visit - Machel Spence Photography on Etsy

All images in this post copyright Machel Spence. 


  1. What a special gift from your Grandma - to have her shells. I have my great-aunt's who lived on Clearwater Beach back in the 40's & 50's. I treasure them & keep them in a seperate collection. Your work is beautiful.

  2. This article turned out so lovely Lisa, I am honored to be a part of this amazing blog! Thank you so much...


  3. What a fantastic article! And that sea urchin picture is just breathtaking!
    Thanks for sharing this with us! :) -Michelle

  4. These are gorgeous pieces of work! Is there somewhere where these beautiful shell boxes can be purchased? I would love to have one in my home.
    Thank you so much for sharing and keep at it!


Maira Gall