DIY Sand Imprints
November 28, 2020

DIY Sand Imprints

DIY Sand Impressions Keepsake

After the success of our Footprint Keepsakes we decided to try something similar using handprints, writing and Crushed ColouredGravel – This is what we came up with.

Exactly what you’ll need

  • An old sheet or plastic tablecloth (to protect your work surface).
  • A photo frame big enough to fit the handprint or wording that you choose.
  • ColouredGravel Sand or Regular Sand
  • Glass beads for decoration
  • Plaster of Paris (you can find this at most craft & discount stores). I used a 1kg bag to do this sized frame and it cost $4.95.
  • Water for making the plaster
  • Cardboard to use to smooth the sand (we just used some from our recycling)
  • Spray on sealer

Start by covering your work surface with something to catch the sand and any drips of plaster.

Remove the cardboard backing off the frame and carefully discard the glass from the frame (this will not be needed). Place the cardboard backing over the front of the frame and flip it over – this will create a nice box that you will then fill with sand. I used a flat piece of cardboard to smooth the sand out level with where the glass used to sit (the first inside groove).

DIY Sand Impressions Keepsake

Carefully stamp the handprint or write the writing (the writing needs to be mirrored so it turns out the correct way).

Once I was happy with the imprints I set about mixing the plaster of paris as per the packet instructions.

Gently and slowly pour the mixture over the sand, starting in one corner and covering the whole inside of the frame then using a piece of cardboard level the mixture GENTLY – don’t press down too firmly.

DIY Sand Impressions Keepsake

Leave the plaster to set as per directions on packet or longer.

Once you’re sure your plaster has set you can remove the cardboard from the front, tip the frame over and dust off the excess sand. I then gave it some more drying time in the sun before spraying with a sealer. This will help glue and seal any loose sand.

DIY Sand Impressions Keepsake

DIY Sand Impressions Keepsake

We have added a Video tutorial for you to view!  The written tutorial for the Footprints can be read here.

Please let us know if you make one…we love to hear feedback on our crafts :). You can see all of our video tutorials here. Have fun!
Louise x

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60 thoughts on “DIY Sand Imprints

  1. Just a quick question what was the name of the spray on sealer you used for the Diy Sand imprints, and where did you buy it?

  2. Thank you. I just found the art project for me and my daughter to work on for Christmas presents for our family. I make my presents most years and this year my daughter is excited to help so I told I would look and this is it. Last year I made fleece tied blankets for everyone I think I ended up making a dozen in like four months. I will send comments with pics as we experiment.

  3. I made 4 of these for the grandparents Christmas last year, they turned out really well considering I had great difficulty getting a good handprint with a 21 month old (he moved the sand every time he lifted his hand).

  4. I have seen this photo springing up all over for a while, but now that I’ve finally come across the actual blog post with the tutorial I can’t wait to try it!!! Maybe when baby #2 arrives in May we’ll do this for Father’s Day. Thanks! 🙂

    1. It just needs to be thick enough to get a good imprint (maybe 2-3cm thick). The plaster will need to be about the same thickness and be spread across the whole back of the frame.
      Hope that helps.
      Louise x

      1. Seems like that would need to be a pretty thick frame, almost like a shadow box. Have you tried using a thinner frame? :-/

  5. Pingback: DIY Sand Imprints
  6. Hi, I’ve bought everything and want to try this. I have a question though. I would like to add a photograph of my daughter on the beach to the project. Have you tried something like this before? How could i do it or should i not try? What do you think? Thank you, Cristina

    1. Hi Cristina, It would require some extra effort but I think it would be even more amazing if you added a small frame inside the excising frame to accompany the photo. I would place it in one far corner before I filled it with sand…I hope that helps? Louise x

  7. I want to make my own picture frame from scrap cardboard and do the project in it does anyone knowabout making your own picture frames from card board

  8. This is really awesome! I’ll try it definitely…oh and my thoughts ran ‘haywire’ with the possible ideas that can be added…Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Okay so maybe a silly question but the glass of the frame is there right?! And a shadow box or regular frame works best?

    1. The glass isn’t there actually 🙂 But the sand doesn’t escape because you have it laid onto a flat surface before starting. 🙂

  10. I tried this project and I did a bigger frame with five sets of footprints, and when I lifted the frame to dust off the remainding sand, it fell through the frame and shattered! How do u get the mold to stay in the frame without cracking?

    1. I did a 2’X2′ frame and I just made sure that all around the frame there was at least a pinky width of empty space not covered with sand. I scraped it down away from the walls of the frame and made sure that it was dusted off to allow it to adhere well. It *so far* is holding up great, and I only let it sit for 30 minutes before I picked mine up and dusted it. But it’s been hours and I’ve moved it around a ton as I added embellishments to the frame ect.

  11. This look so awesome, I just love it, but I’ve tried it sooooo many times and I can’t get a good inprint, can’t get each little toe to inprint well, what could I be doing wrong?
    I’ve got a 4 and 2 yr old and after a few goes they have had enough and I also start getting a little frustrated with it 🙁
    I really would like to get it to work and make one for Father’s Day.

    1. Hello!

      So I just wanted to pass on what I did! I couldn’t get toe imprints to stay either so I took a thick paintbrush handle and poked little toes where they were. It made them perfect little round toes! I also used my pinky to kinda help their finger prints to be a little clearer as they pull out in such a way that all the sand came crashing back in. So I took their imprint and then just made it a little deeper so that it was more obvious. 🙂

  12. LOVE THIS!! I’m about to try it now in a huge shadow box for my daughters poppy! Hope he loves it 🙂

    A question though for the sealer I can only find gloss and matte finish does it matter which I use? I got matte lol

  13. I did this with my childcare. Was able to keep one of the 1 of the 5 I made. I did not buy deep enough frames. It works best with a shadow box type frame.

  14. I did this but mine keeps loosing sand. And there is no sand left on the edges of the frame leaving plaster only. I sprayed them and left them I. The sun it did not help. I didn’t even end up hanging them on my wall. Not sure what I did wrong.

  15. For those of you having problems with the dry sand you might ant to try kinetic “squishy” sand. I think it might hold your print better.

  16. Hello. So, the glass is not used correct? How does the prints not fall apart in the front of the frame?
    I just bought a regular frame like 11×14. Is that ok?
    I was going to literally use beach sand- is that ok?
    I purchased an acrylic sealer spray? Is that correct? And when is that used?
    I’m just afraid that it is all going to fall apart, and this is a Mother’s Day gift!

    1. Hello Bella,

      We did NOT keep the glass from the frame, the plaster (as long as it meets all the outside edges it should not fall out). Any sized frame should work as long as it’s large enough for the hands or feet you want to capture. We’ve used beach sand, purchased sand and gravel sand – all with great success!

      The clear spray is just used to help secure any loose grains of sand but you will find one layer has been permanently set into the plaster. Make sure you give it the correct amount of time to set without moving the project.

      Hopefully the video will help you feel more confident about this project! I know there have been many people who have unfortunately struggled but there have also been many more who’ve had success too :).

      Happy Mother’s day!
      Louise xx

  17. Hello!
    I made this today on a pretty huge scale… I made a 2X2 square that said L O V E (with a handprint as the O and two footprints making the V) it turned out super cute. But it was REALLY hard to keep the plaster moist enough without ruining the prints by filling them too quickly. It took about twenty cups of plaster mixed with ten cups of water. Some of the sand didn’t stick to portions of the plaster. But it actually turned out pretty neat anyway, the spots that didn’t stick were in a fairly consistent pattern and it looks pretty intentional! haha I wish this allowed me to post a picture! But I wanted to say thank you for the great idea! I did it with my friends kids to make a mothers day present for her. 🙂

  18. I tried doing this and my hand and foot prints didn’t turn out right? Is there something I could be doing wrong? I spent the money on the supplies and would really love it. I tried doing 3 of them for numerous people and none turned out right. The hand print was better then the foot but not good to use.

  19. Hi I love this idea but have been unable to buy the colored gravel anywhere where did you buy your from? I prefer the gravel to sand
    Thank you for so many great ideas I’ve made heaps of them

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