Introduction: Beach Finds Collage

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
This quote is the primary inspiration for this project. If you choose to create a collage like this yourself, you’ll be giving a new life to what might be regarded as garbage. All components of this project can be collected for free with the exception of the small amounts of paint and glue. Note that in the supplies section I list “Access to a beach, park, or nature preserve.” If none of these are an option to you, then I would recommend using the garbage at your already home. No, I’m not telling you to start digging through your trash bags, but rather filtering out items before they get placed there.
Have fun. You’ll make mistakes, just as I did, but nothing will be irreparable.


Wooden Pallet
Glue Gun + Glue Sticks
Access to a beach, park, or nature preserve.
Acrylic Paint (optional)
Bar Clnamps
Hand Saw
Wood Glue
Tape Measure
Straight Edge
Putty Knife (Optional)

Step 1: Finding Trash

That’s what it is... trash. I won’t sugarcoat it. You’ll be handling a lot of trash and if that makes you uncomfortable maybe this isn’t the project for you. That being said, let’s get into the instructions. Once you’ve found a beach, (if that’s an option for you), It’s time to begin searching. Look for any vibrant colors that stick out against the organic browns, beiges, and blues of the beach. Carrying a bucket or bag might be useful in collecting trash. Take caution in what you find. Some objects may be unsafe such as: corroded batteries, rusty nails, lead weights, etc. You may not find everything you need in one day. When the tide rises each day, new items will appear. Within a week or two, you should find everything you need. Some colors will be scarcer than others so just be patient. When your satisfied with your finds, use a sink or hose to rinse the sand from them. Let them dry and then you can move on to making the backboard for your collage.

Step 2: Making Your Backboard

You’ll want to begin this step by finding a wooden pallet. These are often given away for free by businesses that order large products in bulk, but no longer need the pallets that they were delivered on. Websites such a Craigslist and Ebay are also great sources for finding free pallet wood. It’s not essential that the wood is from pallets, but using pallet wood gives the wood a new life as well. If you’ve obtained a pallet, now you may begin cutting the boards you will need. Most of the boards should be 4” wide. Cut 3, 12” x 4”, boards, making sure to select the straightest, cleanest planks. I sanded and planed each of the boards, boards, but I now realize that wasn’t necessary, so I didn’t add those tools in the supplies list. While it does make them, aesthetically pleasing, it won’t matter when they’re covered by your collage.
The next step is gluing the boards together. Squirt a generous bead of wood glue down the thin sides of each board. Have 2-4 bar clamps at hand and use those to clamp the planks together. Since the boards are so thin, they’ll want to spring up when clamped, so only tighten the clamps so that they are barely snug enough to hold. Use a putty knife to scrape away the squeeze-out, then place heavy objects on your boards. This also prevents them from springing up.
After 24 hours, the glue will have dried. You can now remove the clamps. The total area of the boards should now be 12” x 12”. If any of the sides are jagged, this won’t matter too much, but you can sand them down if you wish.
Finally, use a tape measure and straightedge to divide the backboard into 7 sections, one for each color of the rainbow.

Step 3: Creating the Collage

Now for the fun part, creating the collage!
Label each of the sevenths you previously drawn one of the seven colors of the rainbow. Now, you may start gluing the items you found of each color to its corresponding section. You can overlap colors, or stay confined to each section, it’s up to you. If you are unsatisfied with how an object looks on your collage, pull it off, then use the putty knife to scrape a way excess glue.
Rope can be coiled or zigzagged to take up more surface area on your collage. Large objects such as buoys can be cut down into smaller pieces.
(Optional) Fill in any gaps between collage items with acrylic paint, concealing any glimpses of the wooden backboard.
When you’re satisfied that each of the sevenths has been filled with items of color, use a 1/4” drill bit to drill a hole in the back of your backboard, making sure it’s 1” from the top and directly in the center.
This allows you to hang your piece and admire its beauty.

Colors of the Rainbow Contest

Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest