No Tools Needed Windowsill Nightlight

Not long ago I posted an article about a few chateaux in Normandy. Chateau de Vendeuvre in particular was impressive in several ways. First, you got to see the kitchen which doesn’t happen often. Second was the family’s love of pets throughout the centuries. They had a huge collection of luxurious pet beds which as a pet mom I thought was really cool. Another reason my husband and I enjoyed our visit there, were the creative projects displayed throughout the domain, several of which had sea shells as a medium. We lived near a beach where our daily walks with the dogs yielded a treasure trove of shells, and it was fantastic because we love collecting them. The problem is… what the heck can you do you do with them if not putting them in a jar or hot-gluing them to something that will forever be labeled as ‘tacky’ later. I mean, a lampshade? I assure you that we don’t love shells quite that much!

Right around the same time a small disaster shook my world: Ikea recalled the nightlights that we had plugged in throughout the house. As a chronic insomniac, I don’t enjoy turning on the lights during the night. It wakes me up instantly.

So here we were, inundated with stinky sea shells and NO nightlights! These things are quite trivial but the thing is that even trivial problems require a livable solution.

I racked my brain. Ikea was over an hour drive away and gosh … unless you can hit to store when it opens on a Monday or Tuesday morning… who actually enjoys going there? Not us! But ideas have a way of bubbling just below the edge of genius, and then suddenly BOOM! The idea came to me in the middle of the night. I sat bolt upright and shoved my husband (Stampson) awake, elated, ‘I know what to do with the shells!’

It wasn’t so exciting for him to crack an eye open at the time. But I was super excited about it and he was intrigued when I elaborated that I had a vision of using the shells to create an interesting nightlight feature. I only had two stipulations: it had to be solar powered, and it had to be 7! I believe in the number 7 as the number of the universe. When I light candles, they’re always white ones for peace, and always 7. It’s just something I’ve always done. Therefor it needed to be a seven unit feature.

The idea seemed to be cause enough to haul ourselves to Ikea for supplies. I bought 7 tall canning jars-the kind for storing spaghetti pasta on the kitchen counter. And brilliant! We found solar powered Christmas lights.

Project necessities

  • Scrub shells clean with a little brush
  • Sort by variety and color tone
  • Dry them in the sun or somewhere warm for multiple days
  • Set aside the less pretty and broken shells
  • 7 mason jars
  • 1 strong of solar powered nightlights
  • A sunny window sill, most useful to the function of the project: a nightlight!
  • Stack the shells that are broken or not as pretty in the center of the jars and begin to build the good shells around them
  • Arrange the good shells in any pattern you like. I scalloped them and used the deeper colors in the shells to alternate with white ones etc- this to make them pop a little bit during the daytime
  • Once the jars are filled to your desired look, place them in the window
  • Apply a few Christmas lights in each of the jars. A wire will run from one to the other which at first I thought would bother me. It doesn’t.
  • Leave the lids of the jars open another number of days for the damp to evaporate.
  • Close the lids but keep an eye on the jars. If they get damp inside (they will), open the lids for a day
  • Put the solar charger in the window behind the jars
  • On very sunny days, the shells will be illuminated all throughout the night!!
  • During the day, the jars are a pretty feature in the house

Admittedly, the project cost a bit more than the 99 cent nightlights at the dollar store, but I have to say that my midnight vision turned out very well and more importantly, functions exactly the way I had envisioned. I happened to have so many shells that I could fill all seven jars easily. But more than a nightlight, this project represents a memory for us. We absolutely loved the little beach where we used to live, and we wanted something in our home to remind us of our time there.

Do the sea shells that you’ve collected, or that you collect with your children at the beach, inspire you to make a project?


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