Guest blogger and fellow sandtray enthusiast Cheryl Willoughby shares her ingenious solution to that pesky problem of getting all of your miniatures to stand neatly and stay organized. Read and try yourself- this is good stuff!
How many of us find ourselves in that constant battle to minimize chaos and engineer out mess makers???
We all know that rush between sessions to clean up toys, put sandtray items back on the shelf, and just maybe have time to run to the ladies room before welcoming the next kiddo into our office.
We know that ideally we would like sand tray items upright and visible without a great deal of effort. Also, we would like to not replace broken items that get damaged as they kerplunk on the floor.
I don’t think I am the only sandtray therapist who plays the game of put one figure on the shelf, knock off two, replace those, push over a few more, only to finally give up and leave the characters in a bundle haphazardly scattered on the shelf.
I found my solution walking through the craft isle.
Clear Casting Epoxy easily allows you to make clear bases for our favorite hard to stand items from our shelves.
Clear Casting Epoxy
Hard to stand figures
Polypropylene or rubber molds
Stuff (see below)
Clear casting epoxy can be found in the jewelry section of your local craft store or on-line and comes in various brands.
The casting material is sold in sizes ranging from small boxes up to gallon sizes.
The kit contains liquid resin in one bottle and a hardener in the other. I purchased the smaller 8 oz. box simply because I wanted to experiment. The box made enough goo to hold about 10-15 of my items. I believe next time I will purchase a slightly bigger kit.
First- Gather supplies and your sand tray items that would benefit from bases.
Gather that stuff we therapists all have in their offices; tape, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, tissue boxes- anything that would aid with making the miniatures stand up while the epoxy takes shape.
Remember, we are working with hard to stand items and have to find a way to insure they don’t wobble for 24 hours.
Helpful hint: I found pipe cleaners were very useful in propping up items. (I have to admit, toys strung up with pipe cleaners taped to tissue boxes for stability looked a little macabre and I worried about what the house keeper cleaning my office would think.)
Next- Read the instructions from your epoxy and FOLLOW THEM EXACTLY.
While the instructions are not difficult, they are precise. I would imagine that each brand has their own specific ratios. My particular brand of epoxy required equal amounts of hardener and epoxy to be mixed for 2 minutes, poured in another cup and mixed again for 2 more minutes. Pouring from one cup to the other was not optional because it mixes air with the compound.
At this point, if you choose, you can treat the molds with Mold Release & Conditioner making it easier for the epoxy to release from the mold.
Then simply fill mold with epoxy, add figurine, securing with items to make as stable and upright as possible and let set for 24 hours.
I found that mixing a little of the epoxy at a time and working with 4-5 figures was best. While it took more time to complete the project, it was difficult to balance too many items at a time while the resin set.
Helpful hint: If you have difficulty removing the item, I found that using a blow dryer to warm the mold helps the items detach from the mold.
I am a learn-as-you-go type of crafter. So here are a few things I learned in the process.
- It is vitally important to have the items as upright as able. I was disappointed that a few were frozen slightly off kilter.
- Make sure your mold has a flat bottom. Some of the molds had a slight curve that was difficult to notice.
- Although not suggested by the makers of the epoxy, paper cups made a fairly good mold as they were easy to tear apart and pull away from item once set.
- I used rocks, glass beads and other heavier objects in the base of a few items that were more top heavy to better help them stand up.
- One or two items did not work just as I wanted. To remedy the mistake, I put item in a slightly larger and deeper mold and did a second pour over the first try.
Cheryl Willoughby, MA, LPC has been a practicing mental health counselor for close to 15 years. She currently owns Affinity Counseling Center in Midland, Texas. While new to the filed of play therapy, Cheryl has a strong affection for children and is proud to soon welcome her first grand baby. Cheryl is currently working toward her RPT under the supervison of Pam Dyson of DFW Center for Play Therapy Training.