Sunday, May 23, 2010

Turtles & Tortoises…..Relics Revealed

                       May 24th 2010  “Save the Turtles Day”imageKelly Wearstler at The Tides La Marea  restaurant used 100’s of resin tortoise shells line the walls.

Love,  ardor, admire yet all things from nature and life’s creatures.  Another natural element in decor that is loved for it’s beautiful texture, interest, color, depth and all it’s markings that tortoise shells bring to a space.  With that said, let it be known/stated/factual, that I do not in anyway condone/accept/advocate/believe in the ruthless killings of these protected animals!  In fact, May 24th 2010 is “Save the Turtles Day”.  THAT, I do whole heartily agree and support.    The good news is, there are stunning resin replicas available, such as the ones that Kelly Wearstler used The Tides restaurant (photos above & below).  But, if you are interested in the purchase of a (genuine) shell,  please (I beg) you know for sure that you are dealing with a reliable source that can document it’s antiquity of a naturally shed shell.

These personal treasures, should be that….a special treasure loved for their gracefulness and elegance that they will add when used as a decorative accessory, yet observed and respected as if they were in a museum.   imageimage Famed designer Kelly Wearstler at The Tides La Marea  restaurant, an icon of Art Deco architecture of the 1930s, "The Diva of Ocean Drive" occupies an ideal niche across from Lummus Park along Miami's most upscale Atlantic oceanfront stretch.  Kelly created an enchanting environment by adding layers of organic materials, luxurious textures and vintage inspired accents to create this fabulous space.

image Seems like no post is complete unless sharing yet another fabulous space created by the super talented Barry Dixon, who uses both resin shells and antique (documented 100+ years) naturally shed shells in his interiors.  Barry views and has a deference for these shells, as well as collections of sea shells from around the world, crustaceans, and butterflies – which are all under museum glass at his personal residence viewed as “museum-like animal studies”.  image Barry Dixon, displays a grouping of shells which take center stage in a custom built in bookcase.

imageBunny Williams and John Rosselli at their three acres house, named La Colina on Punta Cana.  photo via Cote De Texas  The massive tortoise shell is spectacular & for their exotic beauty they have the ability to enhance a room is undeniable.

imageSusan Chevalier  Country Living
Quirky mementos from Susan's travels include a tortoise shell given to her by a fisherman on Mustique that rests on an antique director's chair outside the sunroom with vintage cigarette ads from London hanging above.

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Around The House the blog posted regarding her gorgeous personal turtle shell that spent 50 years in the attic. Her grandfather wrote Kap Verde 1936 on it, helping to date it back to at least that far. 

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Bleached turtle shells from Texas ranches House Beautiful            World of Interiors-Photo by Simon Upton (from Nibs
 image Annie McClurePhoto Steven Randazzo Country LivingCollector and stylist Annie McClure likes to use everything that is either functional or natural, displays an abundant collection of turtle shells on a wall shelf.


photo from: Joni Cote de Texas’s post on Belgian Design. 
With it’s large tortoise shell, the natural texture of Belgian linen on a club chair, wood in a weathered basket & stone floors all add up to what a stylish Belgium look.






 A particular passion for the unexpected and elusive keeps us wanting to create & search for those unlikely objects that both intrigues and inspires.

image Phoebe Howard recently shared a Before & After of South Florida client’s home office. In the small space, Phoebe used the client's antique table for the desk, a comfortable antique leather wing chair, an oushak rug in shades of brown grounds the space along with the client's collection of antique tortoises and tortoise shells on the wall create a pleasant space.

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Brooke from Velvet & Linen stumbles across the best finds, and we are so lucky as to have her take artistic, fantastic photos to share. (left photo)  One of her visits to Bobo Intriguing Objects she came across this stunning bleached tortoise shells. (right photo) from Dan Marty's showroom, who unfortunately is no longer in business :( . 
What inspiration!  The white luggage pieces add sophistication to the natural elements of the tortoise shell and framed coral that rest above.

Tortoise shells and the inspiration they convey can be found in many options, such as: image  image
left Photo: Indonesia  20th Century Hand carved Tortoise Shell Sumba comb on a stand. Hand-carved.  1st Dibs VW
right photo: Phoebe Howard  Vintage tortoise boxes, card holders, combs and numerous other items.

image Red River Supply  Stunning 14" Turtleback copper sink

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(Left Photo) Mecox  Resin Faux Kempsridley Turtle Shell,  faux Hawksbill turtle shells. 
(Right Photo)  Ballard Designs (no longer available) :(  Resin Sea Turtle Shells on Stand was a great way to bring the natural world in without harming precious sea life. 


American Tortoise Rescue To Celebrate World Turtle Day    May 23, 2010
California Sanctuary Sponsors Day To Honor One of the World’s Oldest Creatures

Malibu, Calif. – American Tortoise Rescue (ATR) (, a nonprofit organization established 20 years ago for the protection of all species of tortoise and turtle, is sponsoring International World Turtle Day on May 23rd, 2010. The observance was created as an annual day to bring awareness of the protection of turtles and tortoises and their disappearing habitats around the world. It’s also designated as a day to celebrate these special creatures.

The earliest use of tortoiseshell dates back to decorative uses in China and Japan. Often, a whole turtle shell was lacquered and used as a bowl. The Ancient Greeks and early Romans also used tortoise shell in jewelry, to back hairbrushes and in hair ornaments.

Unfortunately, trade in true tortoiseshell had a devastating effect on the hawksbill turtle population. Though the hawksbill exists worldwide, primarily living in coral reefs, it is considered to be severely endangered. Concern for the possible extinction of the hawksbill, and also relative difficulty in harvesting tortoiseshell led in the early 20th century to celluloid (an early version of plastic) exhibiting the desirable tortoiseshell design. By the 1920s and 1930s, tortoiseshell frames for eyeglasses were primarily made of celluloid and not the actual turtle shell. Today, few areas export true tortoiseshell, in hopes the species will survive if it is not hunted.

It was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s in the manufacture of items such as combs, sunglasses, guitar picks and knitting needles. In 1973, the trade of tortoise-shell worldwide was banned under CITES ( the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. )  ( Text and images directly from Wikipedia )

Terrapin Diamondback Terrapin, small turtle ( about 6 inches ) is found only in salt marsh environments. The Diamondback Terrapin was well on it's way to extinction in the early part of the 20th century owing to it's popularity as a gourmet item. Oddly enough, it was saved by Prohibition in the 1930s, since the recipe for terrapin required wine, which was no longer available. Fortunately for the Diamondbacks, the taste for them did not redevelop after Prohibition was repealed, and they have made a strong recovery.

Please protect our environment and animals/reptiles/natural elements by doing your part of recycling and purchasing only valid antiquities and/or replicas of nature’s creatures.  Thank you. 



  1. Incredible! So happy someone is making a faux version so we can enjoy this fabulousness without guilt!

  2. I am intrigued how turtle shells can add decorative texture to a room. The tortoise and it's ridges are so appealing. By accident, I started a small turtle collection for my husband. He's a firm believer in helping turtles find their way back home. Many times we find them in our backyard and he will pick them up and return them to the creek behind our house.

    He has even stopped in the middle of the road to rescue a turtle.

    Loved your post!

  3. I'm really impressed with the similarity of pieces that mimic turtles.

    Furthermore, the decorative composition reflecting the nature is perfect for the integration with the environment. I loved the pictures and details of the images in residentials compositions.

    I enjoyed your blog, If you allow, I would like to add your blog on my list of favorite blogs.

    I wish peace for you.

  4. Ok you did your homework and then some. Fabulous interiors and of course how great is BD? It breaks my heart to think some of the shells were taken without 'permission' so to speak. I think the colors and texture are wonderful, but I'm glad they come in resin now.

  5. Oh and great post by the way!

  6. THANK YOU for posting that!! I'm am so passionate about protecting wildlife and our environment. "Nature" is one of the prettiest things to bring inside - but I'm all for using only fake fur, fake zebras, fake leather, and now fake shells!!

  7. AnonymousJune 24, 2010

    I love turtles. I didn't realise they were fake, now I am happy to know they are. :)

  8. What a great post about turtle shells! You are the sweetest woman, thanks so much for your facebook notes, etc.