How to make paper shells

The Bear recently had a mermaids and pirates themed birthday party. It went down really well with everyone and one of the things we used to decorate the room were paper shells. Bright, beautiful (even if I do say so myself), and 100% re-useable and then can be recycled once you are finally finished with them.

These were so easy to make from a single piece of paper, I thought I would share how to make your very own.

Paper shells finished result


You literally just need some square paper. I used 20cm x 20cm sheets like these available from Amazon (affiliate link). However, these 15cm x 15cm ones (affilate link) would also be adorable, making cute little ones. I used a variety of different patterns and colours just to add a little pop, but you can use whatever you like.


So, here is the design I used adapted from pictures I saw online. As you can see it’s scribbled in my notebook but hopefully you get the idea!!

How to make paper shells

So, to prepare you need a square piece of paper which you need to fold in half down the middle and place right side down. You’re then going to fold the bottom to corners in towards the middle-folded line (1). Next, you’re going to fold those corners back on themselves so it brings that corner up and inwards (2). Then you’re going to take the little triangle that is left at the bottom and fold it up so that the bottom of your shell is straight (3).

That process so far should look like this:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Next you need to start folding the edges in. So, take the outside edge of one side and fold it into the middle line (4). You want to then take that edge back out and fold it over again (5).  Repeat on the other side (6). This second stage of the process should look like this:

Step 5

Step 6

Paper shells, view from the back

You now need to make the shell folds on the front of the shell too, so turn it over so you have the right side facing you. Fold the outer edge to the centre fold (7) and then repeat on the other side. You should now have a basic shell shape which has zig zag folds (8).

How it looks from the front

Step 7

Step 8

It's all folded

Now for this final stage we need to curve the edges to give it that shell shape. So, with the right side face down, gently open the paper back up into a fan shape, taking care not to flatten the folds you have made so far. Next fold down the two top corners across the centre two-fold lines on each side (9). Refold lines and you should now have your finished shell (10). That looks like the following in pictures:

Step 9

One side folded

Both sides folded

Paper shells - the finished result

There you have it. Your very own shells!! We make a whole load of them in a variety of patterns and colours to add a little pop to the decorations. We used these for two things:

  • Standalone to decorate the table
  • Made into a shell garland

To make a shell garland I simply used a hole punch and then threaded it with string.

Hole punched, ready to string

I really loved learning the basic principles of paper folding through this. Really simple but effective. I loved the pop of colour it gave the decorations and the fact that they were made completely of paper and string, meant that I was able to deconstruct it afterwards and reuse / recycle all the parts!

Plastic free decorations which are still bright and beautiful!

If you enjoyed this post, then why not check out the creations section of the blog for more inspiration.


Paper shells garland

Paper shells decorated table

Really simple but effective paper shells, perfect for decorating a sea, mermaid or pirate themed children's birthday party

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