Oyster Shell Table Runner

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How to create a unique table runner for your wedding!

During the early wedding planning stages in the fall of 2021 I was looking at table decoration inspiration and came across this picture of various small pumpkins placed down the middle of a long table.  The pumpkins were shades of blue and white with a few other colors mixed in.  I loved the organic placement of the pumpkins and the imperfect nature of the “table runner.”  I thought to myself, it would be to recreate this, but with oyster shells.  Oyster shells went better with our wedding “theme” as we are getting married on the water in a boat house that restores / manufactures wooden boats.  So I set out to make some test items to figure out an efficient process.  Here is a picture of the inspiration photo.

Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Table Runner Inspiration

Over the next couple of months I tested out various painting methods using craft paint, gold foil, and spray paint.  I found this process to be the most efficient.  Here are the supplies you will need to create oysters for your table runner.

Supplies

First you will need to disinfect / clean your oyster shells.  If your oyster shells are from freshly eaten oysters you will want to ensure they do not smell.  Use the bleach to soak your oysters in bleach water for a day or so and then let them dry in the sun for a couple of days.

Oysters soaking in bleach water
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Clean Oysters

Once your oysters are clean and dry you can paint them.  I chose to pain the outside of the shell gold.  You will also need to pain the inside of the shell white, so that any discoloration / the black circle where the meat was attached doesn’t show through the tissue paper.  I found it best to paint the inside white first, and then flip the shells over to pain the gold.  You can use any paint color for the outside!

Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Spray Paint Options
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Spray Painted Oysters
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Inside Spray Painted to cover discolorations

After the shells are painted, it is time to add the tissue paper.  I went for a blue and white theme and used various tissue paper with different patterns of blue and white colors.  Take the tissue paper and cut out a piece that is a little bigger than the size of the shell.  On the white painted side of the shell, paint a layer of modge podge with your medium artist brush.  Then place the tissue paper over the modge podge and smooth it out with your fingers.  After the paper is smooth, paint a protective coat of modge podge on top of the tissue paper.  Then carefully tear off the excess paper hanging over the edge of the shell.

Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Cut Tissue Paper to Size
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Paint Modge Podge on the Shell
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Smooth out the paper on top of the modge podge
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Paint protective layer of modge podge on the paper

The last step is to add a border on the edge of the shell to cover any seams of the tissue paper of the shell.  I would recommend using the same paint that you used for the back of the shell.  If you used spray paint, you can spray some in a paper bowl and then use a small artist brush to paint the border.  The border doesn’t have to be perfect or even!  The natural edge of the shell is not perfect or even.  You can clean your artist brush with mineral spirits if you’re using spray paint.

Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Put gold spray paint in a bowl
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Paint gold border on the shell.

I tested out how many oysters I would need for each eight foot table.  I determined that I would need 80 oysters per table after putting together a mock table with the other table settings.  You may need more / less depending on the other décor you have for your table.  Here are some photos of the mock tables I put together.  I can’t wait to share pictures from our wedding later this fall!

Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Mock Table for Oyster Runner
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Oyster Table Runner
Living on Saltwater - Wedding Table Decor - Oyster Shell Table Runner - Blue and White Oysters
Oyster Name Tags

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