I was asked to open oysters on two separate occasions for two of my favorite places in the San Francisco Bay area-the Dolphin Club and The Headlands Center for the Arts. Following the events, when face with huge piles of oysters shells, instead of tossing them out, I made oyster shell tiles that are 1/2 oyster shell-1/2 cement, with polished oyster shell tiles. Since these are sharp and crumbly, I poured a layer of resin on top.
I wasn't sure how strong the oyster shell cement would be and they had a few sharp spots, so I've decided to use these as a backsplash to my kitchen rather than flooring.
Step 1: Clean Oyster Shells and Lay in Sun to Dry
I boiled the oyster shells with a little vinegar, scraped out any remnants of the flesh, and laid them in the sun to dry and bleach.
Step 2: Prepare Shells
I then put them through a tumbler for about 1 hour. I crushed some with a mallet and then ground them up with a grain grinder. I pulled aside some whole shells that would lay flat, and then smashed up other shells into shards.
Step 3: Mix Cement & Oyster Shells
Pictured here is grout, which has a fine texture, but the color was too dark. I recommend using regular cement, and if possible, some white cement pigment to add to it. Follow the directions on the cement package. And keep in mind, cement is very messy.
Step 4: Spray Tile Mold
Spray your tile mold with Pam Non-Stick Spray.
Step 5: Spread Oyster Shell Cement
Spread your cement evenly through the mold.
Step 6: Add Oyster Top Coat
Add oyster shells on top of this while still wet, and press into the cement.
Step 7: Add Resin
Spray the edge of your mold with a resin release, and then mix your resin and hardener according to package. Evenly pour this onto the tile until it comes up to the edge of the mold. (Work on a flat table for best results. If need be, prop up a corner.)
Step 8: Let Dry
Put them somewhere away from debris, pets and children to dry. (Even eco-friendly resin can be nasty stuff).
Step 9: Measure Your Area-Install
Measure the area where you will be installing the tiles. These are thick and heavy, so you'll need a sawzall to cut them. When I get the backsplash installed, I'll post pictures of it.