How to harden sand dollars

Why harden Sand Dollars?

You will want to harden your sand dollars if you are using them for crafts such as sand dollar refrigerator magnets, earrings or perhaps around Christmas time you may want to make some sand dollar garland or maybe even some tree ornaments from them. If you are planning a beach themed wedding you may even consider making sand dollar favors from some of the larger ones, or embellishments using some of the smaller ones.

There is an added bonus of hardening them, it makes the surface excellent for writing on sand dollars.

Generally when used as sand dollar wedding favors or escort cards most of people do not harden them and do not report having many issues but you will have a small percentage “bleed” when writing on them so it’s your choice to harden them or not for wedding favors. Although not necessary, it does make them about 50% harder and will last for many more years. Our suggestion is that you do harden them. You will always want to harden them before using them for jewelry or refrigerator magnets.

 

How to harden your sand dollars

- Use a sand dollar hardener mixture of 50% water and 50% white school glue, it works very well for hardening sand dollars and you just apply it using a paint brush, you must mix it very well before use.
- Coat them very well but do not completely soak through and through.
- Use a stack of three coins to set them on while drying the fro
nts, then just set them on the tops while letting the backs dry.
- Give them plenty of time to dry because the glue soaks deep inside the sand dollars.
- For best results apply a second coat after the first coat thoroughly dries.
(usually 24 hours)

- It's very important to start off with perfectly bright white sand dollars otherwise they will have a yellow tint after drying.
 

Things needed to harden sand dollars yourself

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Why prime sand dollars?

The biggest reason to prime a sand dollar is if you are going to paint on them. If they are not primed then the sand dollars absorb paint at different rates on different parts of the sand dollar and your colors may not always be consistent and the paint not be as glossy or brilliant as you want. Also for some reason or another some sand dollars seem to let the paint “bleed” or run more than other sand dollars. By priming the sand dollars that you are going to paint you can expect a consistent painting surface.

Another really good reason to prime them is if they will be outside or in a moist area like around your pool bar. Even if you are planning to put them in a sealed box such as a shadow box and put it in a bathroom they will eventually absorb enough moisture to start growing a white fuzzy mold.

I was told by a long time artist in a Daytona Beach shop that specializes in painting on sand dollars that the brand name “Kilz2” water based primer works the best for him. Be sure to use “Kilz2” and not “Original Kilz” because the original is an oil based sealer. Kils2 water based primer/stain blocker can be purchased at any popular hardware store.

 

Priming sand dollars

- Use a stain blocking primer such as “Kilz2” water based stain blocker/primer. Do not use Original Kilz because it is oil based.
- You don’t have worry as much about using too much primer because it will soak in. (unlike sealing which sits on top of your paint)
- Apply the primer the same way you would apply the hardener using a paint brush.
 

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Additional tips and summary for all of the above procedures

- Hardening is to make them about 50% harder.
- Hardening is a must when you will be using them for jewelry, refrigerator magnets etc.
- If using for favors or place seating most people do not harden them.
- Priming is so you can paint on them with consistency.
- If you plan to paint on them use Kilz2 stain block found at any hardware store to prime them first.
- From in-house testing we have learned that it’s easy to paint and letter on the Elmer’s glue just as easy as it is on the primed ones.
- Be sure to let them soak up enough glue/water mixture when hardening.
- Let dry thoroughly, at least 24 hours with a fan blowing on them before painting or writing on them.
- If you will be using these in a damp area for an extended period of time in areas like a pool or perhaps let’s say in a shadow box in a bathroom or someplace like that you will want to do either harden them or seal them so they do not absorb water. Otherwise they will sprout small pillars of white mold pointing in all directions from the surface of the sand dollar.
- Be careful not to accidently adhere them to the surface or table that you’re using to apply the sealant, you can put them on a stack of coins when sealing the tops and use nothing when hardening the backs.
- If you hang them while hardening the glue will all run to the bottom.
- Experiment on just one before doing many at a time to see what works best for your situation.
- Sealing is mainly used when you are done painting on them and want to protect them from wear and tear.