Alyssa Wermers, LCSW

Play Therapy Services * Dacono, CO

The journey of my sandtray

Working with my hands has never come naturally to me. So when I decided to add a sandtray to my therapy space, I naturally began by looking online to purchase one. I searched...and searched...and none called to me. It's time...I said. It's time to step out of my comfort zone and  challenge myself. It's time to build a sandtray.

Step 1: Purchase materials. I bought a pre-manufactured wood panel for the bottom, and wood panels for the sides. I bought a paint sample for the inside, along with stain for the outside. (Later I returned to the store for right angle clamp...because a project always requires multiple stops to the hardware store).

Step 2: Know your limitations and ask for help if necessary. Remember that last post with Frodo and Sam? My Sam was invaluable! With help I cut my wood panels and glued them together. It was a lengthy process as I only had one right angle clamp and had to wait for each side to dry before moving to the next. An extra challenge was doing this at the kitchen counter because I don't have a workbench yet. The bright side: I practiced patience, thinking outside the box, and more patience.

Step 3: Hammer on the bottom to finish forming the box. This time I had the opportunity to practice flexibility (after the bottom split in several spots I had to secure it with glue instead of nails), and endurance (boy did those nails take a lot of hammer hits to go in!)

Step 4: Sand, sand, and sand some more. Not everything in life can be perfect the first time around. Sometimes you have to start at level one (grade 80 sandpaper) and move down a step (grade 100) and only then can you take another step forward (grade 150 sandpaper).

Step 5: After taking off the rough spots, it's time to switch gears and nourish the wood. It's time to stain, which brings out the natural brilliance in the wood. But you can only give the wood as much as it's willing to absorb - and the balance is delicate at times. 

Step 6: Painting the inside. I protected the edges with tape so I could maintain the beauty of the stained edges. And it's important to always lay the foundation down first, so I used a thin coat of primer. This was followed by a brilliant blue. The blue added depth to the box, and I could really begin to feel it's richness.

Step 7: The finishing touches.  It's vital to protect what you've worked so hard to build. Two layers of polyurethane to help protect the box for years of use to come.

And as I add the sand I can feel the calmness and power of the sandtray...all at the same time. I am overjoyed to add this collection to my therapy space.