Friday, October 18, 2013

Frugal Scented Sand Art Candle Holder Craft

Scented Sand Art Candle Holders
This picture is taken by my artist friend &
fellow Homeschool Mom, Martha at The Scrumptious Life
I was recently the leader of our Orthodox Homeschool Co op Day. Our lesson was on the book The Hermit, the Icon & the Emperor, and Kykkos Monastery and Virtual Visit to Kykkos Monastery, Cyprus.

I wanted a craft that would tie in to the lesson, be inexpensive, and appeal to ALL our students - ranging in age from three to 13 - and be reasonably safe for any baby siblings that might come.

For the lesson tie in, I chose seashells. Since the book told about the seashells that danced in the procession when the Icon of the Virgin Mary written by the hand of St. Luke was brought to Cyprus, I thought seashells would be a good theme. A candle holder would make it possible for each child to put the candle in front of  his or her own Icon of the Theotokos (the Virgin Mary) at home, to remind them of this great miracle. And, since my own daughter just loves sand art, I liked the idea of a sand art project.

Then, since I'm not normally a very crafty person, I began pricing craft supplies. Boy, was I in for some sticker shock! Ten pounds of colored sand was $10! Keep in mind, sand is very heavy, so ten pounds isn't a whole lot. And, sand is FREE at the beach - although we are not near the beach. Cheap plastic containers were $1. each - "nice" containers might run $3. to $5. Perhaps not bad if you have only one child to buy for - but we were talking the whole co-op here. Glues to affix shells to your project often cost more than all the other supplies put together. Not to mention that many glues are harmful or fatal if swallowed and we were dealing with a whole bunch of kids!

Finally, I found this inspiration online -  a great craft idea that was do-able by kids, and required no glue. But, I still wanted to add the fancy sand art dimension to the project.

I scoured the thrift stores for containers - instead of spending $1 to $5 per child, I found much prettier containers for an average of 30 cents each (glassware gets a LOT cheaper when one in a set is missing - there are lots of great, cheap groups of three glasses at the thrift store!)

I began searching the internet. I found that you could use salt in place of sand - I good option since I really didn't want to spend the time & gas money to go back to the other side of town. Salt can be bought for 49 cents for 2# - making it much cheaper than the colored sand at the craft store. And, it comes with its own dispenser - saving me the additional expense of buying sand art dispensers.

I found that you could color your own sand or salt with dry tempera paint. But, three colors of dry paint - the cheapest package - was $6. And, dry tempera and sand are still not all entirely safe around toddlers.

Then, it occurred to me - I color play dough with unsweetened drink mixes (such as Kool Aid) - why not try that for my salt sand? That brought my "coloring" down to 19 cents a package! But of course, drink mixes don't show their colors till a little liquid is added.

So, this is how I did it. I mixed 1 package drink mix (your choice of colors) with 1 Tablespoon salt (use two packages of lemonade if you're going for yellow). I gradually added just a FEW DROPS of water (too much water will make your salt wet & clumpy!) I stirred with a fork till the colors brightened. Then, I added the coloring to the contents of the entire box of salt. I funneled the now-colored "sand" back into the salt box for easy dispensing, and labeled the top with the name of the color inside.

For ease of distribution, I made a "craft kit" for each child, by putting a container, about 5 seashells and a candle in a paper bag. I bought the Kosher candles from the Jewish section of the grocery, as these were just the right size for our craft - and the price - 20 cents each- was good, too : )

Then each kid could pick up a kit and use the sand in common. We did the project on the floor, on a plastic tablecloth from the dollar store. Each child simply poured in a bit of each color of sand, till the container was about 1/2 full, added their candle & their seashells on top. And, all the kids in the group - from youngest to oldest - really enjoyed it : )

And, the entire project came in at around $1 per kid - and it smells great! : )

I haven't made any tests for the actual fire-safety of this candle holder. So, I can't recommend actually lighting a fire in it - you'll have to use your own best judgment on that.

As for toxicity, shells can be a choke hazard, glass can break, and table salt can be toxic if consumed in excess, and I'm sure you have your own opinion on the artificial colors & flavours in drink mix, but all-in-all, I felt better about using this with our kids than using actual sand and tempera paint - and no toxic glues were necessary : )

This is being shared at Weekend Wonders, Kids in the Kitchen, For the Kids Friday, What'd You Do this Weekend, Clever Chicks, In & Out of the Kitchen, We Made That, Mom's Library, Penny Pinching Party, Hearts for Home, Strangers & Pilgrims Herbal Link Up, Mums Make Lists


  1. I've always liked Sand Art! Neat! Great fun project that doesn't take a lot out of your wallet! Great photos, too!

    1. Thank you! Having an artist friend take the pictures instead of doing it myself was a great blessing : )

  2. What a cute way to handle candles. I think I will have to make this.

    1. Thank you, Debi - I would be delighted if you let me know how it turns out! : )

  3. Sand Art is so much fun to play with. There is so much that can be done with it. I love the creation you made. Thanks for sharing.

  4. LOVE this! And I am sure my son would enjoy doing something like this as well. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. So glad you stopped by, Stephanie - hope you enjoy it! : )

  5. Clever craft and decoration! Thank you for sharing at Make Your Own Herbal Monday! :) Have a wonderful week!

    1. Thanks so much for visiting - and for hosting a delightful blog-hop : )

  6. That was fun! It's hard to believe it was 4 years ago.


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