Sand Dollar Christmas Ornaments to Make

Tropical Fish Christmas Tree Ornaments Made from Real Sand Dollars

This is a really fun project to make and give as a gift. It will be treasured for a long time and, of course, be a one of a kind. You can make a school of fish to have a themed tree for yourself too. I have mine on my kitchen tree, decorated with blue hydrangea. You can see the tree and window ornaments below. I did this project a few years ago and gave a number of them away as gifts.

It s an easy project for those with some crafting skills and the right materials.

The Process

The first step in the process is acquiring a giant sand dollar. And you can see from the shape how it resembles a fish, where one thing becomes another. The sand dollar is raised in the middle , so it further looks like a fish with dimension.

With acrylic paint, you paint your base coat. Find a real fish photo to use as your model from a book or online.

The sand dollar is very porous so it will take more than one coat, and also, it will not take the paint evenly. This works to your advantage generally.

Thin down a deeper color with water and keep applying to layer the paint and shade the fish. Build up the paint to blend the paint. After you are satisfied, start painting the details, like the eyes and mouth.

After your fish is to your satisfaction, you can make your fish really pretty by using 3-D paint to guild the ornament. You can outline the fish as

I used silver or gold to outline some parts of the fish. The paint is used on T-shirts, but works great here.The paint is being applied below and is really easy to apply. You need a steady hand though, as the paint is very thick and  you must apply it slowly.

This process is from the video by Mark Ballard. You can find the video here at Well worth the 16 minute tutorial. The screenshots are from his video, and he explains the process so thoroughly. Watch him complete this fish to the left.

Mark displays his fish in shadow boxes, but I used mine as Christmas tree ornaments.

My fish were only 3 inches round, much smaller than his. I would recommend to get the large  sand dollars that he has. I found a website that sells them. It is called Arrow Sand Dollar. I made six of them and gave the four best ones as Christmas presents. It was a fun project that really did not take much time or artistic talent.

I added craft store beads on filament and added a large jewelry hook to hang the ornament. Mark also displays them on plate stands. I made a wooden shadow box out of 1×2 pine and lined it with a coordinating felt for one that I gave as a present.  The possibilities are almost endless.

Here is the tree where the ornaments were placed. The windows had glass and glitter ornaments hanging from filament, rather that the curtains that usually are hanging here.

The tree above was from 2009 before I had the blog. I like having trees decorated with flowers, both dried and artificial. It is a was to bring the garden in for winter.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and make sure you see Mark’s site for all the details and his really beautiful designs. You only got to see the worse of the six I made. I never thought to photograph the ones I gave away. Someday I will finally learn to document my projects.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Christmas, garden, Gifts, My Creative Posts, My Designs, Projects and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.