Monday, December 18

Craft Challenge Week 6 & 7: How-To: Sand Casting

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Craft Challenge Week 6 & 7: How-to: Sand Casting

Summer’s here and hopefully lasts so I thought I’d be seasonal this week and propose a beach excursion! Fun for all the family and friends and we can create some sly crafts on the side!

I have given this project two weeks as it may take a little time to get the materials needed – I’ve just ordered mine from eBay!

As a child (and ok now as well) I loved beach combing and felt like an adventurer discovery a brave new eco-system with weird curiosities and treasures. I would forever be littering the car with colourful pebbles, sea smoothed glass and delicate shells and while researching summer crafts I came across this little gem:

Sand Casting!

What you’ll need:

A Sunny Beach (sun preferable but not necessary)
Sand
Plaster of Paris
Scavenged beach finds (shells pebbles, sea weed etc)
Water
A bowl to stir up your Plaster mixture and utensil
A small piece of wire or cord

1.) Walk the beach and remember your childhood as you look for the bestest shells and stones!
2.) Dig a bowl shaped hole into the sand (you may have to add water if the sand is too dry to manage)
3.) Press your beach finds pretty side into the base of your sand bowl in whatever pattern you choose.
4.) Mix up your Plaster of Paris which I think is usually about 100ml of water to 70 of plaster mix.
5.) Pour into sand bowl covering your shells and stones until you have a flat even surface of liquid mix.
6.) Leave to start to set then make a hoop out of your wire or twine and dip the ends into the setting plaster at the ‘top’ of your bowl
7.) You can sprinkle some sand over the top.
8.) Allow to dry and set completely (20-30minutes) and dig the now solid form up and you’ll have a decorative hanging sand cast.

Of course if you don’t live near a beach or it’s raining as it is want to do you can do this in a basin with store bought sand or some you’ve nicked from your neighbour’s kid’s sand box! And as you can see from the picture, why stop there – be adventurous and try pouring your plaster into a more adventurous shape than a bowl!

Enjoy the outing and bring home your unique spoils and as ever have fun!

The Results of this Week’s Challenge!

Sand casting – fun, messy, creative, perfect for your inner child plus outer adult that wants to sun bath on a nice sandy beach and what better an excuse – “Hon, are you coming home yet? You must be finished bronzing – it’s just a waste of time and the kids are driving me crazy and you need to start dinner…”, “Actually darling, I’m creating a unique piece of modern art and it isn’t dry yet so I have to lie in the sun for at least another hour (so bleh!)”. (We won’t tell that it doesn’t take that long to dry if you won’t?)

Sounds perfect doesn’t it – minimal effort – maximum fun! Of course when you live in Northern Ireland that turned out to be – Millisle, broken beer bottled beach after a warm day, about 7:30pm and unfortunately a sudden unexpected temperature drop along with an increase in a chilly sea breeze. 16 degrees according to the car thermometer but what would the stupid German vehicle know!

So anyway there’s me, walking around the surprising completely abandoned beach in my bare feet studious studying the sand for fascinating shells and beach treasures while my friend, the designated driver shivered below a blanket and tried to look nonchalant!

Well we followed my instructions with an old mixing bowl that had already been destroyed during a candle making debacle and a measuring beaker and made our bowl shaped impression in the damp sand and studding it with shells and stones and sea glass then poured.

I easily braced the cold, scripting poetry in a soggy jotter while Iain bitched and moaned while we waited for our beauties to set. After about 20minutes and a slight case of pneumonia we dug them up – oops – one broke, the other actually came out fine polling on the little cord I stuck in there for hanging purposes.

The consistency of the plaster of Paris was just like a thicker powdery mulch and crumbled leaving an icky paste on your fingers but hey maybe the plaster was feeling the cold to so we brought them home, left them over night and low and behold, next day they’d set!!! After ruining a blusher make-up brush gently stroking the sand of the moulds like some archaeological excavator I was left with something mildly successful! Unfortunately the plaster sank down around the shells and covered them more than I wanted and the seagull feather I tried wound up floating!!!

So I reckon maybe I should let the mixture thicken a little first and pour slowly, maybe even spoon it out.

Another disaster after the first try was what I thought was an ingenious idea; I bought some candle decorative sand and thought hmmm I can do this in the warmth of my own home. Turns out adding water to that kind of sand makes a doughy plaster of its own so I couldn’t get it solid enough to make an engraving so I gave it ago in the dry dust and the pattern just disappeared in the heavier liquid so either wait for the summer sun or get a hold of proper beach sand.

I loved this though – it was great fun and triggered so many happy memories of sand castles and sticky sand between my toes that would stay there for a week and days of youth which seemed so much sunnier and brighter and beautiful and I realised the possibilities are endless. Anything that leaves any kind of impression could be used, or you could actually keep the silly drawings we all do in the sand with a bit of random driftwood. You could make sand tiles, sand masks, anything and add anything to your design – beads, metal, leather, you could even push a candle in there and it would be secured so this craft I will definitely have to revisit as I sense a great deal of potential.

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