Sand Picture Frames: Aly’s Inspiration

After the great upcycling projects I have seen in class, I feel the bar was raised. Now I really want to come up with a very cool project, but at the time I am finding it hard to chose between various inspirations. Like most of us, I came across products that I wanted to buy and didn’t because I thought I can make them myself. Or even watched a DIY video online and wanted to make something like it. However I understand that this class is not about replicating a product you want.

I visited Denver’s Art museum last year and out of all the art pieces in the museum I was really inspired by a sand picture frame I saw in the museum shop. As you can see below a sand picture is a frame that houses a special fluid with air and fine sand particles. The frame is oriented so that the sand particles are held by the air and slowly falls between air gaps by gravity (same idea as a sand clock but in fluid on a 2D level).



Ideas I have to add to the sand picture frame:

  • Having stoppers in the middle so the sand can accumulate and form a certain or random shape instead of just falling on the base
  • Making this sand picture 3D (from a frame to an aquarium)
  • Adding other fluids like oil or ink to the sand picture
  • Adding other lightweight particles that can flow with the sand (hydrophobic sand?)
  • Incorporating something like Waterful Ring Toss to create a turbulent environment in the sand picture. That will be fun to watch
  • Changing the frame
  • Add an interactive background to it
  • Add lighting effects


I am still not very sure about the feasibility of the project but I would love some to read some feedback.

I will have to experiment with how this works first and then decide on the project, but will have to take action fast. Please let me know if you have encountered one of these sand pictures before and know how they are done or what’s the fluid inside it because I am sure its not water. I will be posting my updates in the comments section

Image credits:

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Great concept. Based on the pictures you have provided I feel like the design captures a more oriental aesthetic. It is very reminiscent of zen gardens. It may be interesting to incorporate small stones into your design to make it more unique. I like the idea of making it interactive. That ring game is a cool concept and you could use the same mechanism to interact with the inside of the frame. Overall I think you have a solid idea. I look forward to seeing the outcome of your project.

  • This is a really cool project idea. It could be good to add magnetic sand/particles so that the user can interact more with the product. It might also be cool to make it an irregular shape. This would really make it eye catching and dynamic. It might also be interesting to play with the idea or building a dynamic/matching frame/stand area for the project as well.

  • This is great inspiration for a project. I find it fascinating that some of the most dynamic objects are created by gently manipulating common elements found in nature. Along with the examples of sand art you showed, water and oil droplets can be nice mediums to become immersed in.

  • Rachel Grosskrueger
    February 27, 2016 10:31 am

    This is such a cool idea! I found this youtube channel that explains how to maintain your sand art (sadly not how to make it yourself) but it looks like you just have water air bubbles (which you can inject apparently) and fine sand of varying densities. Here is the link!
    They have quite a bit of information on how to make it form different shapes and how to manipulate the designs in a way. My recommendation would be to start with something simple, like a clear jar or a beaker with a rubber stopper and play around with the sand/water/air ratios and see how feasible this project is. Once you have the basics down then the rest should just fall into place!


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