sandcasting at the beach

our beach vacay has been full of fun… and art! today we tried sandcasting on the beach, which is something i’ve been wanting to do with N for a while now!

i remember doing this when i was in elementary school, but in a sandbox. in retrospect, i now see that my teacher that year was obsessed with the many uses of plaster of paris – fun year! my copy of Ecoart!: Earth-Friendly Art and Craft Experiences for 3-To 9-Year-Olds brought this sandcasting memory back to the forefront a while back, and we finally got around to doing it. we (now) west coasters are all the way on our home coast in the east right now, and since i wasn’t about to fly with the extra poundage that plaster of paris would create, my sister was kind enough to bring some down to our family vacation (via car.) today we toted it to the beach along with an old bucket, stick, and cups for measuring. we began by digging little holes. N discovered that twisting her fist into the sand created the perfect little cups for the small paperweights we were intending to make. she and her teenage cousin, G, created several of these pockets in the sand.

then N helped to mix the plaster of paris concoction. then she and her cousin chose shells to line the bottoms of the holes (which would become the decorative tops of our paperweights.)

i poured the plaster into the holes, hoping it would level off on top to be somewhat flat and smooth.

then we waited about 20 minutes for the plaster to harden. (it didn’t take that long, but we became engrossed in the task of digging a huge hole – not for plaster.)

meanwhile, our creations were becoming solid…

N came back to check on the plaster and for the big reveal.

score – beach treasures preserved!

the minimal clean up was great – we used old buckets and sticks that could remain plastered. hands rinsed easily in ocean.

the picture below was taken fresh off the beach, but after brushing these off with an old toothbrush, i think they’ll reveal a bit more shell detail. of course, N wants to keep her purple shell one for herself, and we will gift the others to family members who are with us on the trip. i know i’ll be nostalgic for our family beach vacation when looking at these next week, when we’re back to the grind — they make such sweet paperweights or tokens for a summer nature table!


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  • Melissa @The Chocolate Muffin Tree

    Love this! So much more beautiful on the beach rather than in the sand box! You’ve made you vacation look so magical! Wish I was there!

  • karol

    The girls had an opportunity to do this on their beach field trips in Kindergarten. We still have their creations. Here is a link to Lily’s sand casting… They used small bowls to contain their projects and then peeled off the bowl once it had hardened. Love your holes in the sand idea.

  • Roopa @ Putti prapancha

    This is great idea! And it is a wonderful souvenir of ur vacation:) Love love it. I have never included art in our vacations, except for coloring books and drawing. We live so close to beach and visit it often too and you have given me ideas to enjoy it more:)

  • jeanne

    Have not seen this idea before! Will try it in the sandbox AND the beach!

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  • lyn lewis

    lol never mind the children, what fun I will have!!!
    Not heard of doing this before, amazing at my great age!

  • lyn lewis

    Forgot to say, they would be another great way for visually impaired kids to handle the shells, sand texture and all, and for them to keep and reconnect with later on when they are at home.

  • Shelby

    I’ve never seen anything like this. Thanks for sharing. I am looking forward to talking my daughter to the beach to try sand-casting.

  • Rachelle | TinkerLab

    I’ve been thinking about doing these this summer too! Yours came out wonderful. And did you know that you’re on Craft Gossip?! Congrats 🙂

  • jen

    thanks everyone! yes, i was psyched to land on craft gossip over the weekend! we’re planning more sandcasting for the summer… west coast style 🙂

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  • Rashmie @ MommyLabs

    Jen, what a fun activity for kids as well as for us mommies! Love it.
    I shared this link here:

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