Shell Shocker

Connie Chantilis, creative principal and artist at CAC Mosaic Designs, recently completed a six-and-a-half-month project in a new Dallas residence for Laura Lee Clark and Sebastian Construction Group.

In this project, she encrusted a powder room with more than 100 square feet of mosaic shell work using over 35 varieties of shells.
 
A custom-tinted thinset was created for and used in the project. Chantilis used tweezers to strategically place and set most of the shells in intricate patterns, borders and designs.
 
“One of my favorite areas is the work that curves around the inside of the niche,” said Chantilis. “Sea Urchins from Morocco were used as the centers of the crosses that were created with Mule Ear Abalone shells. The diamonds surrounding the crosses were formed with White Cay Cays, Nautica Lineatas and Pearl Umboniums. This area is reminiscent of the Byzantine art I was exposed to as a child.”
 
When entering the room, a six by nine foot mural-like wall greets you. An urn and floral arrangement were created on that wall in three sections in the CAC Mosaic Designs Studio. The three sections were then installed and the joints were shelled in an undetectable manner to create a seamless work of art. With the exception of the wall with the urn on it, all work was done on site.
 
An oval mirror was designed to hang in the niche above the basin. The mirror frame was created with oyster shells, quartz with chlorite, phantom quartz and extremely rare Vera Cruz amethyst. The wall behind the oyster mirror is shelled in a scalloped border complementing the mirror. The two-tone striping, which appears on the mirror wall as the background, is repeated on two additional walls. Multiple layers of borders and patterns repeat throughout the project.
 
The antique mirrors add dimensional impact to the shell encased walls and allow you to be completely encompassed by the work.
 
This is the third shell room that Chantilis has created.
 
“I am driven by texture, and am extremely pleased with the texture and depth that we were able to achieve in this project,” she said.
 
 
Shell Shocker was awarded the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, Texas Chapter John Staub Award, Honorable Mention.