Shell Mandala

Shell Mandala

Shell Mandala

A few years ago I stopped by an estate sale near my neighborhood where I spotted this interesting item on a table with kitchen utensils. What attracted me were the Cowry (Cypraea) shells that are found in warm waters with rocky shores. I have some in my shell collection that look like these; I found them in 1981 on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

There were other items of interest at this sale, and I put it back on the table. By the time I was ready to pay for my other finds, the guy conducting the sale had decided he had made enough already and was giving people grocery bags to fill up with whatever items they liked for a dollar a bag.

I looked at the shell thing again, and although it isn’t the type of decor I usually choose, I decided I wanted to rescue it because I appreciated all the work that went into making it.

Detail of Shell Mandala

It appears that the material used was raffia wrapped around a thin strip of something natural that is strong but flexible enough to make the circles, star shape, and the zigzag inside the outer rim.

The fan-shape weaving is Teneriffe Lace made with thin threads of raffia. I’ve never even contemplated trying to do this, but one of my basket-maker friends does this. She combines it with pine needle basketry and gives them for the Christmas gift exchange.

Detail of gift with Teneriffe Lace


When I got home, I hung this mandala under the wall clock in my dining room where I see it several times every day. I’m referring to it as a mandala because of its circle design. Many different faiths use mandalas with meditation. They are thought to integrate and stabilize the personality. A little of that each day is a good thing, right?



This month, even though I’m still cleaning up the yard mess from spring, my focus is on shells. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of beautiful shells at the 2018 convention of shell collectors at the end of the month.





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