Project: Sand Dollar Jewelry & Crafts

Glammed up sand dollars!

A couple of months ago, I was asked if I could use sand dollars to make jewelry for somebody as a gift (the sand dollars were picked off a beach by the birthday gal's young son). Without a plan in mind, I accepted the task.

Even before then, another friend of mine (after seeing my sea glass jewelry) had given me a baggie full of sand dollars to experiment with. It was one of those projects that I just hadn't gotten to yet, but now I had the perfect reason to sit down and figure out what exactly I could do with these natural beauties.

After some research, I learned that sand dollars need to first be properly preserved to make them strong enough to use in jewelry and craft pieces.

Supplies (for preservation):
  • A bucket or small container
  • Water (out of the tap)
  • Bleach
  • White craft glue
  • Paintbrush

Step 1: Get them nice and clean
Put your sand dollars in your little container and fill it up with fresh water. Let your sand dollars submerge completely in the water- but don't walk away! When your water gets murky (and possibly a little stinky), pour it out and add more fresh water. If it gets murky again, pour it out and add more water again. Repeat this process until the water remains clear. My sand dollars weren't too bad- mostly just really sandy!- but based on what I read, others have had to replace the water several times before they were clean.

Step 2: Turn them white
Drain your water, then combine fresh water and bleach at a 2:1 ratio of water to bleach (if you use 2 cups of water, use just 1 cup of bleach). But let me honest- I found this ratio online but I definitely eyeballed it, mostly making sure I used quite a bit more water than bleach! Allow your sand dollars to submerge in this mixture, and let it sit there for no more than 10 minutes. Don't let them stay in the bleach too long! Too much bleach will tear away at the sand dollar and make it too brittle and fragile. Once time is up, take your sand dollars and rinse them under running water for a few minutes. Allow them to dry completely before moving on to the next step. I let mine dry overnight.

Step 3: Make them stronger
Mix equal amounts of water and fresh glue (again, I will admit to eyeballing) and apply this mixture evenly over the top of the sand dollar. Let it dry, then turn it over and coat the back side as well. I gave each side a couple of coats. This mixture acts as a hardener and sealant.

Display them in their natural state - via Sea Cottage
At this point, it's choose your own adventure! Leave them as they are and enjoy their natural beauty, or gather up some more supplies to personalize them. I decided to have some fun with mine and painted them by mixing Pearl Ex powders in Aztec Gold and Turquoise (then I combined what was left of both to make a beautiful green) with some Mod Podge.

After I got the color experimentation out of my system, I turned my attention back to the original request- we just want something natural for our birthday gal. I put my PearlEx powders away and simply added a layer of Mod Podge over the sand dollar for extra coverage, glued on a bail, then strung it onto a silver chain.

There was also a smaller sand dollar that seemed perfect for a ring. I attached it to a brass ring base, then decided to cover up a hole that was in the middle of it. I took a purple Swarovski crystal bead (amethyst to represent her February baby) and used a piece of wire to attach it through the sand dollar onto the ring base itself.

See the final product below- I hope she liked it!