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As Emily mentioned, I’m a budget-savvy seashell collector – and proud of it! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve hunted for the best gems the sea has to offer as a sweet reminder of where I’ve been. With time, I’ve become more adept at picking and choosing only the best of what is washed ashore. That being said, I decided a few years ago to focus more on sand from my travels, rather than always carting a larger load of bulky (and breakable) shells.

Our recent trip to Hawaii proved to have perfect collection opportunities that showed the nuances of environment from one beach to another. It also presented a problem: how to display these sands together in a way that highlighted both their differences and their similarities, without having a bunch of dust collecting jars?
*Tip: save your empty prescription bottles, as they’re the perfect size for collection and travel! I label my bottles as I go, to ensure I have all options once I get home.
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Hello test tubes.
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There are times in life when it’s super helpful to know a chemist, and Roadrunner just happens to be one. (His lovely bride has incredible packing skills!) A recent trip to the craft store showed me that shadowbox options have really elevated in the last few years, so I picked one up thinking I’d use it for sand and shells, but I wasn’t quite sure how.

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Like Emily, I clean my collections in a water and bleach solution, and I polish with mineral oil (no scent). The sands from a few beaches were a little damp, so spreading them thinly on a smooth service helped evaporate leftover sea water.

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I filled each test tube with the Sands of a beach, labelling each tube to a key for proper identification. Shells that were small enough went into tubes, like the buts and pieces found at Shark’s Cove, whose beach was a mess of well-worn shells, stones, and glass, but little sand. The rest of the shells were carefully laced in front of the tubes, which I adhered with Uhu Tac. I placed the tubes in the order in which the beaches were visited.

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The finishing touch was taking one of Sweet Hubs’ incredible pictures (from sunrise at Waimanalo beach) and using it as background.

Now, to find the perfect place to hang it….

~Lainey