the shell book
design + fabrication
Project summary

My earliest memory of shells is walking along the beach with my big sister, searching for little treasures in the tide line. She'd tell me their names – common and formal – and always add some fun science trivia on whatever we found.

No doubt those were the founding seeds that eventually inspired this project, which was to make a nice, shell-themed book for my best friend's birthday.

In the end, it involved identifying and classifying dozens of shells, photographing each one, and finally producing the book itself.

It was definitely a labor of love.


At the time, my entire collection was stored in a broken-down old box that had lived in my closet for years. Inside, the specimens were loosely wrapped in newspaper and retro sandwich baggies.

Further, of the 78+ shells, only a handful had any useable information. The rest would require some serious data mining.

And I had a month to get it all done for the best friend's birthday.

shabby box
Life Savers

Web Resources:
Thank goodness for the internet. I don't know what I would have done without access to these two superb online resources:

shell photos
Research & Record

It took me about a week to verify the correct information for every specimen. The photo shoot took another three days. Then a week more to meticulously hand mask and retouch each shell.

While not everything made it into the final book, that accurate information and the quality photos were essential in creating a sweet spreadsheet, color labels for every specimen and the ultimate re-org of my entire collection.

The Book

For this project I designed a unique folding jacket. Using one piece of black duck cloth I joined the 2 covers, spine and flap into a single unit. To keep the pages protected and the book closed, I fastened discreet velcro patches to the inside front cover and flap.

Look Inside ↩
Aside from the intro and TOC, I designed two basic page templates. The first template was for single shells and the second for multiples of the same family. The pages were printed on MOAB archival paper using a high resolution ink jet.
Each page was coated with MOAB Desert Varnish and hand-trimmed. The only thing I didn't do was the spiral binding which was outsourced to a local vendor. In the end, I created a limited run of five beautifully hand fabricated books.
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