Everything you need to know about
Seashell Craft of Goa.
Goa is known for its beaches, churches, and handicrafts.
Yes, you read it right.
There is more to this wondrous city other than those road trips endorsed by Bollywood.
Seashell craft of Goa is one of these delicate arts that connects the parts of the ocean to those of our land.
The seashell craft of Goa dates back to the Portuguese occupation of Goa.
From there it developed into the beautiful handicraft practice as we know it today.
This form of art uses the shells shed by marine animals.
These shells are used to create various artwork and eye-catching objects of use.
Nature is combined with mankind and the ocean with the land through this form of handicraft.
Shells are shed by marine animals as a part of a biological process.
These are then collected from shores and turned into art as a feast for the world’s eyes.
Goa, being the most loved destination of tourists provides an amazing platform to this handicraft.
Seashell crafts are acting as the perfect Goan souvenir for decades.
It is about time that you learned about this art heritage of India.
Some skilled craftsmen are natives of Goa and preservers of its culture.
They have been doing and teaching the seashell craft since generations.
Their legacy is being preserved by several art museums.
Exhibitions, workshops and flea fests are conducted all over the state to showcase their history and craft with these seashell artists.
Let’s do our part in preserving our culture and art by knowing more about this local craftsmanship of Goa.
What is a Seashell?
A seashell is an outer protective layer of marine animals.
They use it to protect themselves from the predators of the sea.
These protective layers are often shed by these animals and wash up to seashores in the bounty.
The shells found in plenty on beaches are Mollusc Shells.
These are made up of calcium carbonate and hence survive all the weather and tether to end up on the shores.
Now, this is a good Chemistry lesson. Other weak shells include barnacles, horseshoe crabs and Brachiopods.
Several sizes and shapes of shells are found on beaches.
Now, when we visit beaches and find these fascinating parts of nature.
We usually pick them up in admiration for a few seconds before throwing them away and forgetting.
However, seashells are just not limited to decor and art.
Some shells like Giant Clam, Oyster and Green Mussel are used for edible purposes.
Edible lime is Produced by seashells like Scallops, Cockles and Clams.
Handicrafts artists are not as ignorant as we are.
So they collect them and store different kinds of shells.
These shells are later converted into mesmerizing artwork known as the seashell craft.
How are these Shells Collected?
Seashells are gathered for their delicate and displayed and converted to artistic objects.
Collecting these miracles of nature is a pure treasure hunt.
Collectors walk along beaches, scramble over rocks and paddle in the shallows at low tide.
They always look for unusual shells with different patterns and colours.
Collectors carefully store these prized possessions as triumphs of victory of their hunt.
The types and shapes of shells depend largely on location, season, time and tide during this expedition of treasure.
These treasures are used to make different handiworks like interior artefacts and ornaments.
We will discuss the kinds of crafts and materials made by seashells a little later.
First, let’s discuss the different kinds of seashell crafts that are popular in Goa.
The variety we will encounter here is amusing.
Types of Seashell Crafts in Goa
There are various types and kinds of seashell crafts carried out in Goa by talented artists, crafters and sculptors.
Here are two main branches of this unique handiwork that I was able to find:
Conch Shell Craft
This type of handicraft is made up of snail shells called conchs. These also have a spiritual significance as blowing conch shells is believed to ward off evil in south Asian Culture.
Conch ornaments are very popular in Goa. Both tourists and artists love this delicately shaped artwork.
This shell craft dates back in time as many architectural pieces of evidence are found by Archaeologists in Goa.
Many buildings and arches were decorated with the help of Conch Shell Crafts.
Apart from its contemporary use, the seashell craft is used to make musical instruments, decorative items, interior artefacts, etc.
Tortoise Shell Craft
This is a less popular type of shell craft made up from tortoise and turtle shells. They are mixed with ivory to make statues, lamps, cutlery, jewellery, spoons, buttons, etc.
Although this kind of shell craft is more popular in Visakhapatnam, it is practised in Goa in a fair amount.
Art is never limited to definitions and nor is the seashell craft of Goa.
There are hundreds of kinds available other than the main branches I mentioned above.
So, put on your exploring shoes the next time you are in this beautiful city and find new realms of seashell craft in Goa.
Now, are you also wondering how some random shells from beaches turn into such shiny artefacts? Before going into the process, let’s find out the tools used for this craftwork.
What are the tools used by Seashell Artisans?
Every process and artform requires raw materials and tools for the female product.
These provide the foundation of the craftwork and preserve the traditions related to it.
Here are the tools that are used to make the seashell craft in Goa.
- A mud pot that is used as the structural foundation of some products
- Seashells, obviously? Different kinds of seashells collected personally from beaches
- Glue, if you don’t know it is used to stick things to the base.
- A hot glue gun? Yes, our artists do use new technology. It is used to reach delicate corners of shells.
- Thermocol used to fill holes.
- Toothpicks as a support element.
Now, we have all the ingredients. Let’s quickly dig into the whole process of making this magical art.
The making of Seashell Crafts.
The whole process of developing the final finished product of the seashell craft in Goa is intricate.
It requires skill and utmost creativity and concentration.
Let’s go through the whole method of this gorgeous art step-by-step:
- First, all the rough edges of a shell are cut and cleaned thoroughly.
- After cleaning, the artisan tightly wedges the shell between their right heel and left toe.
- Artisans then cut the base out with a plain saw. Rings are carved out from this with the help of a curved saw.
- The holes created in the shell are then sealed with wax. The joints are painted with coloured drops.
- The final shine is given to the product by keeping it in a solution of nitric acid and polishing it with a dry cloth.
- These shells are then used to make various products and ornaments.
The whole process is very intricate and requires skilled craftsmanship and focus. It would be a delight to watch these artisans at work.
What is the Seashell Craft used for?
The famous seashell craft of Goa has multiple uses and functions.
It is used to make a variety of souvenirs and utility objects.
Let’s see what are some objects you can steal away with this delicate handiwork-
- Seashell ornaments and crafts for wall decor
- Seashell decor for parties and gatherings
- Interior crafts like chandeliers, wall shelves, lampshades, mosaic tile, flowerpots, shower curtains, doorknobs everything laced and made with this historic craftwork
- It offers several small souvenirs like jewellery, photo frames, pen holders, etc.
- Chanks, the large conch shells are still treasured by goan and Tamilian communities. They are considered auspicious and religious.
Seashell Craft and Tourism
There is a high appreciation and demand for seashell craft in the beach resorts and houses of Goa.
Tourists from all over the world want to take home a piece of this excellent craftsmanship.
Ornaments and jewellery made from seashells are in high demand.
When necklaces and bracelets are made with Conch Shells, they are filled with lac and mounted in brass.
These pieces of jewellery are handmade and extremely rare.
Tourists treasure these as souvenirs and remnants of the fantastic state of Goa.
Engravings on seashells and products made with seashells is a contemporary art developed for tourists.
Visitors get their name and words engraved by highly skilled craftsmen of Goa.
This craft undoubtedly will enrich your decor ideas with natural beauty and delicacy.
All the designs are unique and unmatched that makes your gifts, designs and decor stunning and breathtaking.
The next time someone points out your beautiful shell lampshade, you can talk all about the heritage and legacy of this art form.
Our country is well-known for its diversity and rich culture.
We are the descendants of the oldest human civilization.
We have been successful in preserving the art and crafts dating centuries till today.
The seashell craft of Goa is one such preservation.
Knowing more about the miracles these artists are creating will make you jump on the next flight and see for it yourself.
Did we miss something?
Let us know in the comments down below!