Nature, science, art and philanthropy; The Shell Club’s annual Shell Show was that, and more.
From March 10-12 visitors viewed more than 150 incredible exhibits that filled Disseler Hall at the United Church of Marco Island. Exhibits were divided as to “Scientific” or “Artistic.”
The scientific exhibits included everything from complex, multi-part displays down to single shell exhibits – all were geared to inform and educate. Shell Show Chair Jae Kellogg said, “We are excited to have the publicsee the exhibits and learn about shells and our beaches.” Shell anomalies, a popular category that fascinated the crowd, included dramatic color variations, and even shell adaptation to environmental interference- such as fishing line.
There was excitement at the live shell tank. For the first time ever at the Marco Island Shell Show, an apple murex was in the process of laying an egg case in the tank. Visitors got to watch what is usually an unseen part of nature, and learn.
Althoughdesignated “Scientific” or “Artistic,” many exhibits, such as Frances Enman’s, bridged that gap. Frances prepared a thoughtful exhibit on cameos, “Jewel from the Sea and Fabulous Fakes,” that earned her a blue ribbon.
Frances explained the history of cameos, which dates back to the 15th century. Visitors learned that cameos were often carved directly onto large intact shells, and later cut out for use in jewelry or other decorative arts. Her exhibit included a bullmouth helmet shell with a beautiful cameo carving.One of the many tips learned: Real cameos have a curved back, since they are cut from shells. A display case of real and fake cameos made her exhibit fun.
Submissions in the artistic division came from both novice and professional artists. Jae said that this year the artistic exhibits “kicked up the creativity a notch.”
One of the many standouts was artist Constance Marshall Miller’s 3-D miniature lighthouse created with a mosaic of meticulously placed small shells.
Although part of the non-judging exhibit,a dramatic, near-life size octopus commanded attention. Marci Chamberlain’s octopus, covered in soft white and ivory shells, reached out to the crowd with curled tentacles.
In the hobbyist class, apparel category, “Ruby Slippers Redefined” by Heather O’Keefe won Judge’s Merit and Best Non Floral Artistic. The shoes’ beautiful red hue came naturally, from red pipe coral, sea life and shells.
Shell Club President Marsha Prunetti seemed happy with this year’s turnout, saying that the show went “very well,” and that the flow ofvisitors had been steady throughout the event.
The three-day show ran smoothly, thanks to the many Shell Club members who volunteered in two-hour shifts. Some of the volunteers sold handmade shell art crafted by club members. Since November 2015, members kept busy making jewelry, ornaments, vases, mirrors, floral arrangements and more.
The Shell Club uses the proceeds from the annual Shell Show to support scholarships at FGCU and USF, and Rookery Bay’s National Estuaries Day. For more information about the Shell Club visit www.marcoshellclub.com.