NH has only 18 miles of coastline, but is it breathtakingly beautiful. We have sandy beaches as well as rocky ones. Quiet ones and some that are filled with people from sunrise to sunset. We have the smallest coastline of any coastal state, so we treasure it and enjoy it to the fullest.
When my kids were younger, we’d always come home from the beach with loads of rocks. We still have a few here and there, but for this project, I needed more. This meant a road trip! Billy and I took off on Super Bowl Sunday morning and hit the beach. We went to Bass Beach in Rye, NH. It’s one stop shopping for any kind of beach rock you could ever want. In fact, we’ve nicknamed it “Rocky Beach.” I love this beach because it’s not usually busy. Most people want sandy beaches and this one is anything but. We did however get ambushed by a large Golden Retriever puppy named Bailey while we were there. She was incredibly fuzzy and sweet. Dogs love beaches!
It’s incredible--when you first hit Rocky Beach, the rocks are big. As you head down to the water, the rocks get smaller and smaller. Tiny! If you really take the time to look, which we’ve done with the kids, you’ll find beautiful little rocks that have been “tumbled” by Mother Nature--no machine needed. They’re miniscule versions of the rocks you see when you first step on the beach!
My inspiration for this project came from just Lu. She collected her rocks on the Oregon Coast! I noticed how hers were mostly all one color, and it’s beautiful. I wanted to showcase a nice assortment of the rocks we see here in New England. We don’t find much (if any) beach glass here, so I went ahead and picked some up at Michael’s for some added color. I planned on leaving them as is, but in their dry state, they blended in with the shadow box too much. I took just Lu’s lead and sprayed mine with a sealer to make them look wet and shiny. I used Americana Acrylic Sealer/Finisher. It took one coat and dries incredibly fast.
When looking for a shadow box to use, I found the labeled “shadow boxes” all looked shiny and new. Not the look I was going for. I looked around the store and found so many other options in the unfinished wood project section of Michael’s. I settled on an 8x10 inch Basswood Canvas, which is “1/4 inch basswood cradled with a 1.5 inch pine wood frame.” It’s just what I needed, without the glass--which I wasn’t too concerned with, anyway.
What I Did:
1- I needed to make the box look a little weathered, so using what I had on hand--tubes of watercolors--I started blending some grays and browns and set to work. I used a cloth and applied the paint directly to the cloth, then dipped the cloth in water and applied them to the box. I finished up with a nice summery blue. If I could have found some sandpaper, I’d have “messed it up” a bit more on the edges. I love the finish, though--it looks cottagey/beachy to me. It was slightly damp, so I set the box in front of a fan to dry while I prepped the rocks, glass, and heart pattern.
2- On brown craft paper, I set the rocks out in small piles, sorted roughly by size. I chose some glass to add, and sprayed all of it with the acrylic sealer--outside. It’s very strong smelling. They dry very quickly.
3- On more craft paper, trace out the edge of the box. Draw the inside frame measurement so you know how much room you have to work with. I freehanded a heart shape inside the outlines. If you want, you can trace and cut out another heart to set in the box. Then you can trace it and have the heart shape in the box as a guide, as well. I didn’t. I eyeballed all of it.
4- Choose your rocks and glass and set them in the heart that you traced on the paper. When you get a pattern you like, one by one, transfer them into the box and get it set the way you want it.
5- Using a strong adhesive (I used E6000), glue the rocks and glass in one at a time. The glue doesn’t dry too quickly, but it is pretty fast, considering. If you need to adjust the placement of one of the rocks, you have a few minutes to do it. For mine, to glue all of the rocks/glass in, it took about 15 minutes. I started on one side and worked my way across the heart. Set is aside to dry completely, add a hanger to the back, and you’re done!
6- I did this entire project in one morning--I started at about 10:00 and finished at about 1:30, so it’s not terribly difficult or involved. Just have fun with it!
I hope you’ll check out the Iron Craft Flickr group--there are so many fun and beautiful projects posted, so you’ll find tons of inspiration!