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© Steve Speller
© Steve Speller
© Steve Speller
© Steve Speller

Tess Morley

  • Shell worker
  • Worthing, United Kingdom
  • Master Artisan
Tess Morley Shell worker
By appointment only
+44 7759564232
© Steve Speller

Gathering shells

  • • Tess enjoys using found materials
  • • Much of her work is inspired by the Baroque era
  • • She has worked with the great British grotto restorer Diana Reynell

Tess Morley works with shells, creating decorative panels and mirrors for interior design. She began collecting shells from an early age on the beaches in Suffolk – where she grew up with her parents, who were both artists – and started making shell boxes that were given as presents to friends. After studying fine art at Brighton, she returned to her passion of making shell-encrusted, three-dimensional objects. Tess made shell masks, to which the response was so encouraging she decided to turn her meticulous eye to other objects: obelisks, mirrors, caskets, nautilus shell-cups and chandeliers, sailors’ valentines and even humble salt cellars. Her work is internationally known and is highly prized in both America and Europe. Tess’s restoration of grottoes brought her to the attention of the National Trust and English Heritage.

Read the full interview


  • © Steve Speller
  • © Steve Speller
  • © Steve Speller
  • © Steve Speller
  • © Steve Speller
Photo: © Steve Speller
Pair of shell wall brackets

Two matching shell ‘cluster’ arrangements made of pink spider conch, screw shells, grey oyster shells and white Murex. These shell structures support the shelf ledge above, which has mirrored panels fringed with miniature mother-of-pearl Tegula shells.

Length 19 cm
Width 14 cm
Height 19 cm
Diameter 10 cm

Photo: © Steve Speller
Tazza centrepiece with oyster shell salts

A table tazza centrepiece composed of three king scallop shell dishes mounted on a stand of grey oyster shells and antique white coral.

Length 23 cm
Width 12 cm
Height 23 cm
Diameter 16 cm

Photo: © Steve Speller
Shell encrusted casket

A shell encrusted casket, crowned with a magnificent red fan coral. The dome-shaped lid, surmounted with an agate cabochon flanked by cut spirals and reddish-brown shells, is set on an unusual background of miniature sand-coloured shells.

Length 20 cm
Width 13 cm
Height 23 cm
Diameter 23 cm

Photo: © Steve Speller
Shell Grotesque

A shelled portrait head with protruding tongue in the style of Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The relief is set on a rectangular panel which has a golden, textured background of crushed iron pyrite. Decorated borders of striped nerite shells and mother-of-pearl abalone shells complete the overall design.

Length 60 cm
Width 40 cm
Height 15 cm
Diameter 40 cm

Photo: © Steve Speller
Mica Casket

A casket based on a medieval design with lock and key. Moss agate and crocodile jasper cabochons are set on a reflective background. The casket is edged with green nerites and miniature striped sea snail shells arranged in neat rows. The lid is surmounted with a black South African limpet.

Length 23 cm
Width 18 cm
Height 18 cm
Diameter 18 cm

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