Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Take a Break: Sand Painting

Sand Painting on River Bank
This week’s take a break is inspired by having spent some time with a friend testing sand painting techniques that we want to use for our community Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) activities in November. Since it’s summer, it’s the perfect time to make a sand painting on a beach, riverbank or some place with lots of sand. In our case, we used a riverbank for our base and colored white sand I had left over from making Zen gardens.

Making the colored “sand”
While you can certainly purchase colored sand, it can be very expensive. Mixing sand with dry powdered tempera paint works really well. Put some sand in a jar, add the powder and shake. You don’t need a lot of the powder.

If you don’t want to purchase tempera powder, make your own by taking sidewalk chalk-Dollar Store always has lots of it- and using one of these techniques:
• Place the chalk in a zip locked plastic bag and smash with a hammer or other hard object. You can end up with lumps with this process. These can be removed by using a mortar and pestle or, if you have a blender for non-food uses, grind away.
• Use a grater. Betty Crocker makes one that has a trap to catch the shavings and it’s available at places like the Dollar Store. Use the smallest holes. This will produce a much finer product with no clumps.

The chalk powder can be used in place of the colored sand or you can try coloring sand with it. Mix several of the powdered chalks together to create new colors.

Sugar and salt can both be dyed. Put food color and sugar/salt in a plastic zip lock bag and smush until you get the desired shade. These will need to dry before use, so be sure to allow drying time before first use.

Holi or colored powder can also be used in place of sand. Check out How to Make Colored Powder  It’s made with cornstarch and food coloring. Does include a number of steps but your final product will be completely safe.

Work surface
While you can always work on dirt, the floor or even a table, it’s nice to have a firm bed of wet sand. If the tide has just gone out, you’ll have prepared bed of sand, otherwise mix some water with the sand and pack it down. If you are doing this at home, use an old picture frame, Styrofoam tray (the kind meat comes in) or whatever else you have on hand, and pack in the wet sand. If you want to preserve your painting, put a layer of white glue (e.g. Elmer’s) down on stiff paper and add the sand. Work section by section.

Draw your design with a stick, handle, paintbrush or whatever you have on hand. You can also use stencils, keeping in mind that the more open they are the better. The sand needs to be able to fit easily through the opening and lift off without disturbing the design.

Pouring the sand
Using your hands is fine, recognizing that you’ll need to wash between colors. Small sieves, strainers and plastic spoons also work well. Again the Dollar Store is a good place to pick these items up for cheap.

Videos of Sand Painting

Not interested in today’s activity? Check out the Take a Break Pinterest for lots of Take a Break ideas. 

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