Sand Dollar Shadowbox

Recently, we went on vacation...sigh.  These are a few of our souvenirs! Sand Dollars! We were so excited to get our very own, so excited that we got a BUNCH!  We could have filled our pails to the brim if we'd wanted to, uh-huh, yes we could have!  But, I thought 3 dozen was plenty.  And it was.  So what is one to do with 3 dozen sand dollars when one gets back to the condo, hotel, beach house, your seaside lodging whether permanent or temporary? (if you live there, I'm jealous)

Well, I'll tell ya!

First, you hold a science class on the spot with your kids, family, or the people at the pool who seemed interested in your sand dollars.  Tell them everything you know about them, let them look at them, hold them, feel them...observe them like a marine biologist would!  Up close!  Don't know anything about them?  Well here's a tid bit of knowledge for you...they are supposed to be that color.

Want to know more? Click here.  Need MORE? Click here.

Yep, when they are alive, they are brown and are covered with hairlike stuff.  They are only white after they have been eaten or otherwise, eh hem, killed. We killed 3 dozen of them. Shocking. I know.

So, after your aspiring Jacques Cousteaus have had their fun, take them and rinse them off, gently with running water.  Put them in a container that won't be hurt by bleach, and pour bleach over them and soak over night.
*Some people dilute the bleach, we didn't.
***Keep out of reach of your little octopi, or anything you don't want bleached.

Ok, so the next day you should see results.  Safely pour off the bleach, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse the sand dollars....gently.  They are fragile now and hopefully white and pretty too.  Handle with care.  We soaked ours in tap water over night and rinsed one more time.  Then I set them out on paper towels to dry. More paper towels were used to wrap them in for the ride home and packed them in a lunch cooler we didn't need for anything else.  This worked pretty good, only 6 or so sand dollars were lost to breakage...probably from when the cooler fell out the back window of our Yukon at the gas station on the way home.

For the shadow box you'll need:

  1. a shadow box frame ~ I got mine at Michael's, it was on sale!
  2. wax paper
  3. Elmer's school glue
  4. a paint brush, or your mom's old basting brush
  5. tap water
  6. small bowl
  7. fabric or mat board for the back of your shadow box ~ Choose something that will be darker than the sand dollars so they will show up nicely in the frame. You'll only need enough to cover the inside of the frame.
  8. a hot glue gun...and glue sticks
  9. scissors
  10. one of your mom's stainless table knives

Here's what you do:
  1. In the small bowl, mix equal parts Elmer's glue and tap water.  How much depends on how many sand dollars you have to "preserve".
  2. Set out your sand dollars on the wax paper.
  3. Paint them with the glue slurry on both sides, with the paint/basting brush. Blow gently on the face of the sand dollar so the slurry won't dry and fill in the holes.
  4. Let them dry on the wax paper.  This won't take long...just be patient, and handle with care.
  5. While they dry, get your fabric ready to mount to the back of your shadow box. My shadowbox opened from the front, so the back couldn't be taken out for easy covering. No. That would have just been too perfect. So, I had to trim my fabric to fit allowing an extra 1/4", or so, to be tucked between the frame and the back.
6. Test fit it, when you're satisfied, lift up one half of the fabric, put a line of hot glue along the edges of that half of the frame back and a little in the middle. Lay the fabric back in place, work quickly, smooth out the fabric, and run the table knife along the edge to tuck in the fabric. The glue and the tuck will secure the fabric so your project looks neat and sweet.  Now, just do this again for the other half.
7.  Your sand dollars are probably dry now, so its time to lay them out...don't glue yet! Unless you are just that free spirited!  I am...not.  So, look things over, get them just so and leave them in place.  Then start at the side of the frame farthest from you and pick up one sand dollar, put a dot of hot glue in its spot, then place it on the glue...gently.  Now repeat, repeat, repeat...25 times in my case. 

8.  When everything is glued down, shut the lid, or whatever you need to do to reassemble your shadowbox...step back and admire.  Call to your kinfolk and have them come and take a look too! 
 how 'bout that

(Now go clean off your mom's knife and rinse out her basting brush before the glue gets any harder.)