Sandcasting… In the Sandbox!

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Sandcasting... In the Sandbox!

Have you tried casting plaster shapes in sand yet? We've done sandcasting at the beach a couple of times with great success, digging a hole in the sand, lining it with shells, rocks, and other found treasures, then filling the hole with plaster. It's fun when you need a break from the water and the result is a pretty awesome memento of your time at the beach.

While we didn't get to the beach this summer, we really wanted to do some sandcasting. So we decided to give it a go in the sandbox. 

It worked wonderfully! Even better than at the beach, really, because the conditions were more controlled.

Sandcasting in the Sandbox

MATERIALS:

  • Sandbox with sand (or you could do this in a bucket or bin of sand)
  • Plaster of Paris*
  • Small nature items, such as shells, pebbles, flowers, sticks, etc
  • Melted crayon rocks, glitter rocks, or painted rocks (optional)
  • Small treasures, such as glass beads, marbles, little figurines, etc (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:


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1. First, we dug holes in the sand.

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2. Then, we lined the holes with our treasures, including shells from past beach trips, melted crayon rocks, glass beads (the kind used in floral arranging, but you could use jewelry-type beads as well), marbles, and flowers.

3. The plaster of Paris mixing part came next. I mixed up 2 parts plaster with 1 part cold water. I had an extra plaster bucket and just mixed it in that, but you'll want to do it in something you can just throw away afterward (not your best kitchen bowls). I sometimes measure the plaster and water into gallon ziploc bags and then just use my hands to smush the plaster around until its mixed. The kids love to do that, too.

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4. Okay, moving on… We poured the plaster into the holes, covering the treasures and filling the holes.

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5. The kids really wanted to decorate the tops, too, so they poked in another round of flowers, rocks, and treasures. Kind of like when we did the best art group project ever.

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6. Then we waited. The plaster takes about half an hour to set.

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7. Once the plaster has set, lift it carefully out of the sand, turn it over, and carefully dust off the extra sand.

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Admire! I especially love the combination of the sea shells, glass beads, and melted crayon rocks.

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The flowers are cool, too, but the color won't last. They'll dry and peel off, leaving a flower imprint.

8. Place your sandcasts in a protected place overnight to continue the drying process.

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9. Display your sandcasted plaster lovely on the summer nature table, the mantle, or as part of a tablescape. We put ours outside on the patio table, under the umbrella (to protect them from the rain). I think they'd also make pretty good doorstops or bookends, depending on the shape you come up with…

*Plaster of Paris notes:

  • I buy 10 pound buckets of plaster of Paris at big craft stores, such as AC Moore, when I have a half-off coupon. It's normally $10 a bucket and I end up getting it for about $5. Recently a reader said she gets big 25 pound bags of plaster at places like Lowes and Home Depot for about $16. You can also order something called
    ArtPlaster casting plaster
    from Discount School Supply. I haven't tried it yet, but would like to, although maybe for something with finer detail like playdough casting or leaf casting.
  • Be careful not to breathe in the fine, dry plaster dust. I usually measure it out when the kids are in the other room. (And am careful, myself, too.)
  • Do NOT pour wet plaster down the sink. It will clog your drains and you will be sad. Dispose of any extra plaster in the trash.

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Comments

  1. says

    I like that idea, Sarah, but I think I’d have to use concrete instead of plaster if I wanted to use them outdoors exposed to rain and such. Plaster will disintegrate with too much water exposure. Right now we have them under the patio umbrella, so outdoors but still protected.

  2. Libby says

    Great idea!! What kind of sand do you use for your sandbox? I have play sand but it’s very rocky! Thank you!:)

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