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What is Sand Art?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 23, 2024
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The term "sand art" can refer to several different types of artistic crafts created with sand, such as that found at the beach. One type is made up of jars or bottles filled with colored sand, which can be layered to create a beautiful appearance. This is a fun and simple activity for children. People who have a jar of beach sand can use food coloring or special paint powder to change the color of the sand. Several piles of sand in different colors can be created and then layered on top of each other to create the work or art. If the artist puts the layered colored sand in a beautiful bottle, it can be a lovely keepsake or ornamental accessory.

Another type of sand art refers to the paintings that are traditional in Native American culture. In this form of art, beach sand is separated into various piles and dyed in various colors. Then, glue is carefully placed on a sheet of paper and one color of sand is poured over it. After a few seconds, the artist flips the paper over and shakes it to remove the excess sand: it should stick only where he or she previously placed the glue. The glue and sand process are repeated with the other colors, leaving a multicolored design behind. In Native American culture, these paintings can be very intricate and beautiful, though most amateurs will probably not be able to match that level without a lot of practice.

The final type is created by making sculptures out of damp sand. The most primitive form of this variety of sand art would be the sand castles made by children at the beach, using molds to shape the sculpture. Sand sculptures can be far more ornate than this and can use tools and dyes to help complete the sculptures. Many are as large as a person, or even larger, and feature beautiful designs. In many countries throughout the world, there are sand sculpture contests that will award a prize to the contestant who has created the best sand art.

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Discussion Comments
By Crispety — On Nov 21, 2010

Subway11- Me too but a sand art picture is not that difficult. You first have to get a matte board and design a picture like you would a paint by number set.

You then have to designate which colors go where and then you surround the area with hot glue with a thin layer and then apply the colored sand. You do this until the whole picture is complete leaving no empty spaces.

You could buy a colored sand art kit but I would rather do by own design instead. My kids love doing this, but I do all of the hot gluing because they can get burned with the glue gun. These sand art crafts are such much more fun than traditional crafts because the kids sand art is so dramatic.

By subway11 — On Nov 21, 2010

Moldova-Sand art projects are beautiful but they can also be messy. What I normally do is buy a thin vinyl table cloth for about $2 at the party store and put them over the table before we start.

This makes the clean up process so easy. What is really nice about sand art projects is that you can make a colored pattern that really stands out. I also love the sand art pictures because they are harder to make. I always appreciate artwork that has a higher degree of difficulty.

By Moldova — On Nov 21, 2010

Anon 12337- I would use hot glue because it bonds the best.

I wanted to say that colored sand art is so beautiful. You really see a lot of these works of art in galleries by the beach.

They use multicolored sand in clear sand art bottles that really look beautiful in a room. I know that Toys R’ Us sells sand art kits for $4.99.

They contain a sand art picture that has a cut out of a fish or a flower with small colored bags of sand art.

There is also a site called Colored Sand that sells the individual colored sand bags along with kits for a classroom project or fundraiser. They also sell bulk orders to crafters who sell their work at craft shows and conventions.

By anon12337 — On May 04, 2008

What type of glue is the best to use specifically for sand art paintings? Julie

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