How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

While not a museum-quality technique for stabilizing and preserving fossils and finds, a coating of glue and water can help strengthen and protect your seashore finds. I use it on sand dollars, sea biscuits, pottery shards, and more.

For museum-quality preservation attempts, here’s a great place to begin: Vertebrate Paleontology Collection Preparation and Conservation from the Florida Museum.

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Step One: Drainage

First, put all your seashore finds on cookie cooling racks so any excess solution can freely drip off your items.

Don’t put your sea biscuits or sand dollars directly on any paper or cardboard; they may stick.

My sea biscuits happen to be arranged on top of my stove. This is only because it wipes clean easily, and was close to where the cookie racks are stored!

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Step Two: Very Gentle and Careful

Gently, carefully arrange your items to be preserved on your racks.

Above, I have one sea biscuit that is in four pieces – I used rubber bands to hold it together for the preserving process. Also, I kept my two small sand dollars far away from the larger, heavier sea biscuits.

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Step Three: Mixture and Brush

Pour half glue, I used Elmer’s Glue-All, and half water in a container.

Select a soft-bristled paint brush for brushing on the mixture.

Apply as much of the mixture to your sand dollars or your items. When you begin they will seem to be able to absorb a great deal quickly. A thick coating in the beginning will sink right in – by the time you move three items along; the first will begin to no longer demonstrate any shiny spots.

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Step Four: Protect, Wait, Repeat

I often apply anywhere from three to six coats of half Elmer’s Glue-All and half water depending on the fragility of my finds.

Usually I wait 24 hours, then try to determine if more solution is needed to preserve my finds. Until the items seem unable to absorb any additional glue and water mixture, I continue with applications.

When the items seem unable to accept any more of the mixture, I allow an additional 24 hours of undisturbed drying before either storing or displaying my finds.

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

Conservation Questions and Concerns

These days, I am only preserving and stabilizing my finds from years ago. I’ve read some about taking items from the ocean, and the possibility that the shells I used to collect being intended as someone’s home.

Truthfully, these sea biscuits over time would have disintegrated, adding to the sand in the ocean. I’m not sure what the effect was of my removing these few examples. However, I no longer collect due to fears of interfering with the natural cycle of the oceans.

Also, I’ve read about the seashell farming that removes billions of animals from their shells in order for the shells to be purchased in shops. So, I don’t buy shells, either.

Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

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Stabilizing and Preserving Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits, How To Stabilize and Preserve Delicate Sand Dollars and Sea Biscuits

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