Thursday, October 28, 2021

She sells seashells!

Color, composition, precision, and originality equals artistry. Submitted photos

Color, composition, precision, and originality equals artistry. Submitted photos

By Tara O’Neill

It was a dark and stormy Thursday afternoon…

Finding myself with a couple of free (in season!) hours, I heeded the roadside signs and headed to the annual Marco Island Shell Club Show. As happens with whims, there would be much for which I wasn’t prepared. For starters, the turnout was outstanding, and when I got inside I understood why.

The hall was divided into three parts: there was an area for Shell Club artists to sell their hand-made shell art as well as materials – including, you bet, shells. But there would be no time for shopping today.

Another area held the stunning submissions in the juried Art Division. The creative force of the displays was my second surprise; towering ‘bouquets’, intricate inlays, stunning assemblages, and a few playful pieces that confirmed humor and whimsy don’t have to jump out the window when THE BIG SHOW comes to town.

Next came the Scientific Division. So much information about those beautiful bits and pieces we trod past (and upon) during our beach walks; and so artfully displayed. There were exotics from around the world, but the specimens collected locally held the greatest attraction for me. And that attraction led me to Jae Kellogg who spent over ten years collecting the conch shells with her husband Patrick for one of their entries. Unfortunately for me Jae, the current Shell Club President, was in high demand that day and I was on time’s short leash.

We arranged to meet after the weekend at Shells by Emily, the shop where she works.

Did I know Emily Savage? Well, I‘ll be a daisy if I don‘t! I’ve known Emily and her husband Herb for many years. Lovely people.

So you’ve been to Emily’s Shop? Ooh, not good. No,

The flower table.

The flower table.

I hadn’t, and for the life of me I can’t say why not. Shell’s by Emily is a bit tucked-away, but for conching out loud, it’s still on Marco – and she’s been there 26 years! Shame on me.

Shells by Emily is where you go to discover the difference between shell craft and shell art – or as I prefer, Fine Art with Shells. Artistry abounds here: color, composition, precision, and originality, all have a play in the game. Artists Emily, Jae, and Judy Daye create each piece, one at a time, by hand, with both local and imported shells.

If you haven’t already, I’m afraid I really must insist you stop by. An added treat is being able to run your hands over rows and rows of the sea’s finest raw material: the seashell. For those of you who get inspired – and how can you not – Emily holds workshops on site and has all necessary materials available for purchase. Season is a busy time, so check with any of the gals for scheduling.

Of course, that could put you well on your way to Marco Island Shell Club membership. They hold weekly workshops at the United Church of Marco Island, 320 N. Barfield. The Club also hosts excursions, seminars, and social events and most notably provides scholarships annually to undergraduate and graduate students who study marine biology.

Shells by Emily: 651 S. Collier Blvd,, 239.394.5575.

Marco Island Shell Club:,, 239.963.4694.

Tara O’Neill, a lifelong artist, has been an area resident since 1967. She holds Bachelors Degrees in Fine Arts and English from the University of South Florida, and currently has a studio-gallery at the Artist Colony at the Esplanade on Marco Island. She can be contacted through her web site


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