You guys know I love the beach, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit a few amazing beaches in my life. For example, I lived in Puerto Rico for a couple of years when I was younger, and during that time, I visited St. Thomas as well. A year or so ago, I found some long-forgotten bags of sand that I had kept as souvenirs of the beaches on those two islands. I vowed then to start a beach sand collection, hoping eventually to have mementos from around the world.
Since then, I’ve collected a few more samples, but have struggled with finding a fun way to display them. I considered collecting small glass bottles of various sizes, but that seemed too hodgepodge. I had sort of settled on the idea of re-using empty spice jars that I could display in a wall rack. That would have looked neat, but I really wanted something more uniform, modern, clean, and small.
And then I went into The Container Store.
You know me well enough to know that I went nuts when I saw all the amazing little boxes and storage ideas in The Container Store, and my mind went into organizing overdrive. I was most intrigued by the tiny, round “boxbox” containers that measure a little over an inch across. It only took seconds for my brain to travel back to my pending sand collection and a brilliant idea was born! At about $2 for a dozen, it was an easy decision to grab about 100 boxes and head to the register.
To contain all these little boxes, I picked up a simple acrylic box frame that measured 11″x14″. I really wanted a square one, but couldn’t find one, so I had to settle for rectangular. The first thing I did was remove the cardboard inserts from the frame.
Then I started putting the little round boxes in the frame, lining them up to make sure that 1) they fit and 2) I had enough to fill it. Fortunately, it was a “yes” on both counts.
Fortunately, before I tried test-fitting the board into the frame, I thought ahead of time about how it might be difficult to remove if it were a tight fit. I avoided this issue by creating a couple of handles on the back of the board, with strips of packing tape. I just attached the tape with a big loop in the middle, and pinched it so it stuck to itself. I added two handles to be safe, and then tested the fit. I am SO glad I put those handles on, or I would never have gotten that board back out!
The next step was to actually put the boxes in place. I started by lining them up along two sides of the board, making them as straight and centered as I could. I used my ruler to help line them up.
Take your time with this step and make sure those boxes are super straight, since they will determine how all the rest of them line up!
It was finally time to start attaching the boxes, and I did so with my all-time favorite adhesive — large Zots 3D adhesive dots. I cut them in half (they were a little big) and put one on the bottom of each box, then stuck it back in place. I like Zots for this application because they are super sticky but also removable, so I’ll be able to remove the boxes again later to fill them. Also, they have a little give to them (unlike hot glue), so I can wiggle the boxes if needed to help line them up straight.
Once I had the first two rows done, I started filling in the rest with boxes, keeping them lined up as best I could. Before too long, I had the whole thing full!
With my display box finished, it was time to finally start putting some sand inside. I removed one of the boxes (thanks to the flexibility of the Zots, this was easy) and used a fine-point black Sharpie to write the name of the beach on the lid of the box. Then I filled the box with sand and sealed it shut with some clear tape all along the side of the box.
Just look at how cute this tiny little specimen of Sanibel sand is!
When I was done, I stuck the box back in place. The Zot was still sticky enough to hold it, but if it hadn’t been, I could have easily replaced it with a new one. I repeated the process with the other sands I had collected. I was a bit surprised to find that I only had five beach sands so far, because I was sure I’d collected more than that. However, this was still a good start, and with 80 boxes in the frame, there’s still plenty of room to grow!
To display the collection, I just put the frame back on top of the board, and it fit perfectly. I secured it with a little piece of clear tape on the sides. I poked a little hole in the foam core so that I could hang the frame on the wall on a thin nail.
I am so pleased with how this beach sand collection display came out. It’s so sleek and modern, but fun at the same time. And even with only five beaches so far, I can already see the variation in color. Imagine how pretty it will be with 80 shades of brown… I can’t wait to see it all full!
Now I want to keep on traveling so that I can add more and more sand to it! I’ve been trying to decide if I should only use it to display sand from beaches I’ve personally been to, or just from beaches that friends have visited. I decided that I would rather have a truly exotic collection, so I’m going to be asking any friends who visit interesting places to bring me back a sample. And if any of you guys live somewhere with a famous beach and want to send me a sample, I’d absolutely love to add to my collection! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for mailing information.
While strolling through the craft store today, Jo and I spotted a great alternative to the frame/container idea. Turns out that Darice makes a clear bead storage container with 24 jars that would work perfectly for this project. If 24 jars isn’t enough for your collection, you could easily set or hang several of these container next to each other to expand your collection. I love how easy this container makes it because the jars fit so perfectly inside.