Works of art made from mollusks

Tran Thi Ngoc Hieu from Dong Nai province is paralyzed in two legs and one arm but has turned lifeless mollusk shells into unique pieces of art.
Before making mollusk shell products, Hieu created paintings from gemstones. She learned from a foreign friend that mollusk shells could be a good material for paintings. This friend brought mollusk shells from the UK for Hieu to make paintings. After making paintings for this friend, she started using mollusk shells, which are easy to find in Vietnam, to create other beautiful items such as jewelry boxes, wedding flowers, pen cases and vases.

 Paralyzed in two legs and her right arm, Hieu has turned lifeless mollusk shells into true works of art.

She uses shells from about 70 species of mollusks to create beautiful items.

Hieu collects mollusk shells from her friends when they return from vacation at the beach. 

She is skillful in gluing mollusk shells. 

Her job requires skill and aesthetic taste. 

Gorgeous mollusk shell flowers.

Hieu’s works of art are made from shells of some 70 species of mollusks, including oysters, cellanas and trapdoor snail. They are collected by Hieu from coastal villages, and from her friends after their vacations.

Among Hieu’s gastropod shell items, paintings are the most difficult to make. They require not only diversity in the quantity, colors and shapes of the shells for making the background and details, but the painter’s creative mind to make the paintings vibrant. Hieu often uses both hard and soft shells to create depth for her paintings.

“Doing this work, I can connect with many people and contribute to protecting the environment. I am happy to make something unused into beautiful items,” Hieu said.

Hieu’s works of art are sold on her fan page at with prices ranging from 300,000 dong (13 US dollars) to 4 million dong (174 US dollars) per piece.

Souvenirs made by Tran Thi Ngoc Hieu:

Story: Ngan Ha - Photos: Nguyen Luan

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