I came across this fun idea on Red Heads Craft More Fun. I knew I had to try it when we were at the beach this past week. On Courtney’s post she said it was easy. Maybe they have different sand out in North Carolina than they do in Del Mar, California! It was fun but it was not so easy! I also did not have a cute square frame like she did. What I did have was a square plastic box. So, let me tell you how I finally figured out how to make it work. It was quite a process.
First of all, my husband had to build me a sand fortress for my little project, because although the tide was supposed to be going out it never really did and the water kept coming to the wet sand where I needed to make my molds. His wall saved the day more than once! Thank you my cute husband who loves to use his big shovel at the beach!!
Then, I had him throw a few shovels full of sand into my fortress. I needed some sand that was a bit looser if I was going to have any chance of pressing those shells into it. BTW, I purchased the shells I used. They were half price to they were pretty cheap!
I didn’t quite understand how Courtney did her molds. It seemed to me that the part between the edge of the square and the shell would need to be lower than ground level so that you could have a decent amount of plaster in there. Maybe hers are really thin in that area, but I wanted mine to be more like a plaque. So, my smart husband told me to push my blue box down into the sand a little and then push sand up around the edges of the box. It worked great! After that I pulled the box out carefully and then put in some loose sand and spread it around evenly in my square. This gave me some sand to push my shells down into. I also found that if you put the shell in and then VERY CAREFULLY sprinkle little bits of water on the surrounding sand it helps to not cave in when you pull up your shell. It would work A LOT better to mist it with a spray bottle, but I didn’t have one!
Once you get your mold looking good, you can mix up your plaster. You CAN use sea water. Follow the directions for amounts on your Plaster of Paris package.
As soon as your plaster is mixed, start spooning it into your mold. I tried to spoon it over the shell part very carefully so it would not disrupt the dirt and cause me to lose the details of the shell. Once I spooned it over the whole shell impression I poured the rest on. Be sure to work very quickly.
(In the above picture the plaster was setting up too quickly. It shouldn’t look so thick and should fill in the square more easily. I think I have learned that if you get too much water in it it goes from super liquidy to solid much faster. It is weird!)
After you pour it in smooth out the top with your spoon. Then give your husband or friend or whoever is with you the bucket and spoon to wash before it dries in there! Once it starts to set up a little you will want to stick something in the back to make a hole so you can hang it up later. I found that a piece of seaweed worked PERFECTLY because it was pliable enough to remove once the plaster was hard.
Now, just let it sit for 20 or 30 minutes. Then get it out of the sand and rinse it off to remove the excess sand. And here is what you will get:
(The last ones I did were of Coral and they didn’t turn out so great. The biggest problem was that the impression was so delicate that after I spooned in the plaster I wanted to let it sit for a minute before I did the pour. Well, doing that caused the plaster to have a division around the edge, as you can see in the one against the wall above. SO, I tried again but I didn’t have quite enough plaster for the amount of water in my bucket so then the stupid plaster got hard too fast and I got the same problem. So, I’m a little bummed that the coral one doesn’t quite “match” the other 3. Also, I had a cool sand dollar but I broke it trying to push it into the sand! So, maybe don’t use sand dollars)
It was a fun thing to do and the kids thought it was cool. But really, they couldn’t really do it themselves. It was hard to get the impression without disrupting the frame or surrounding areas. Another idea would be to do hand or footprints.
I am thinking of painting my plaques white. What do you think???