Summer Fun: Sand Casts

We’re hanging on to every last bit of summer we can around here, and have spent the last two days at the beach.  Today, I packed along with us a few simple materials to try out a very cool beach project I saw long ago on Honest to Nod.  It went surprisingly well for our first attempt, and we’ll definitely be trying it again before the summer’s vanished completely.  Here’s how Miss G and I made our very own sand casts…

IMG 9446First of all, we retrieved a few buckets of ocean water and created a little plot of firm, mouldable sand.  You could easily do this project near the shoreline where you normally find perfect sandcastle sand, but since the tide was high and the shoreline was littered with seaweed and shells, we opted for this method instead.  (You can also do this project at home by mixing play sand water in a baking pan or shallow dish of some sort.)

IMG 9447Next, using the bottoms of our sand buckets and a plastic cup, we made several wells in the sand approximately 1 to 2 inches deep. (You can also use drift wood, feet, hands, and beach toys to make wells of different shapes and sizes.)

IMG 9452

IMG 9450Then, using shells we collected around the beach, as well as a few glass stones we brought from home, we created designs and patterns in the bottoms of the wells.  One thing we did learn about this is that in order to show up well in the finished product, the decorations need to be pushed down quite firmly into the sand – otherwise they just get completely buried in plaster. (At this stage, you can also use your finger or a stick to draw designs in the wells.  Just remember that if you choose to write something, you need to write it backwards so that it faces the correct way on the cast.) 

IMG 9454Next, using a container from home, a couple of cups of plaster of paris powder (readily available at art supply and hardware stores), some ocean water, and a piece of drift wood, we mixed up our plaster according to the directions on the box (2 parts powder, 1 part water).

IMG 9455Then we filled our wells almost to the top.  At this point, we experimented with adding a couple of straws to two of the wells in order to have a hanging hole at the end.  Turns out, it worked great. The only thing we’ll do differently next time is add the straws before the plaster (much easier when you can see the stones and shells, rather than digging around trying to avoid them ☺).

IMG 9457Easiest step?  Playing and eating snacks while waiting for the plaster to set.  

IMG 9458After about 30 minutes, I gently poked the plaster to find out that they were dry and hard, so I gently scooped up one of the casts, along with some of the sand below it. Sure enough, it was fully solid. Grae helped me scoop up all of the casts and place them gently in a bucket.

IMG 9459Next, we took the casts down to the ocean for a quick bath to remove the excess sand.

IMG 9462Here’s what we ended up with.

IMG 9463IMG 9464These two are Grae’s favourites… The octopus was made with the bottom of one of her Melissa & Doug nesting pails and ‘happy face guy’ was made with glass stones and a chunk of a shell.

Grae and I are hosting a messy play date this week and this just may have to be one of our outdoor crafts for the day. Fun, simple, and the perfect way to hang on to summer long after it’s gone.

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