If you're like me sun, sand, surf and fruity tropical beverages are not enough- I need something to do at the beach. The beach is windy, sandy and wet, so most crafts are impractical. Luckily sand casting is wet, messy and not affected by wind. Here I'll show you how to make a simple sand mold and cast a model of your hand.
This project is simple enough for young kids to participate but detailed enough to satisfy the more experienced crafter as well. You can make a cool beach souvenir or a gift for someone back home.
You will need a beach, something to dig with, plaster or some kind of casting media, sandpaper, a mixing cup and some adhesive felt mat.
Step 1: Dig In!
First dig a hole in some moist sand that's big enough to fit your hand (or whatever you want to make a cast of) into. You want to use sand that's not too wet and not too dry- the kind you would use to build a sandcastle. Put your hand in the hole and pack sand back in the hole around your hand. You want to pack the sand tight so it will retain the shape of your hand. When the sand is packed firmly slowly wiggle your fingers and hand to make the hole a little bigger so you can pull your hand out without caving it in. You may have to try different hand positions to get a hole that doesn't cave in. When you have a usable mold in the sand go on to the next step.
Step 2: Let's Mix It Up a Little!
Now you want to mix your casting media. I used Durham's Water Putty. This is available at most hardware stores. It is a great mold casting medium as it doesn't shrink and it hardens quickly. Mix your media a little soupier than usual so it can be poured into the mold. Add a little powder and a little water until you have the consistency and amount you need to fill your hole. Slowly pour the mixture into the hole so as not to cave it in or destroy details. When the hole is full, cover it to protect it from debris and errant feet. Now grab a cold one, sit back and wait for it to harden.
Step 3: About As Fun As Watching Paint Dry...
Be patient- don't try to remove your casting until it's completely set. Curing time will depend on the material you use. When your cast model is completely hardened you can carefully remove it from the sand. I gently dug out the sand from around my hand model and carefully lifted it out of the hole. I brushed off the excess sand and then gave it a good rinse in the ocean. I set the hardened casting on the window sill to dry.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
When the hand is dry and cured you can sand the bottom flat so that it sits nicely on a flat surface. I used my bench belt sander when I got home, but you can used regular old sandpaper. When the base of your model is flat trace it onto a piece of adhesive felt mat so it wont scratch the surface you place it on. Congratulations- now you can give yourself a hand for a job well done!
So what do you do with it now? You can use it as a decoration but I had something else in mind. I'll use mine for propping up wet paint brushes in my studio. Of course this technique isn't limited to just making hand molds. Try casting your face or a footprint. Try casting other items like a favorite toy or whatever. Use your imagination- the sky's the limit! I like the look of the plain Water Putty but you can paint you creation if you choose.
You don't need a beach to use this technique. A box of moist sand will work just as well. Try adding a little bentonite clay to your sand mixture for a smoother finish and more detail. When you get the hang of basic sand casting you can try other materials such a molten aluminum, resin, cement or anything that will pour as a liquid and harden. Have fun and use your imagination!