The following article appeared in True Magazine in the early 1960's. Accompanying the article were photographs of the Swan sand bottle, the Victorian House sand bottle, the Riverboat sand bottle, and the George Washington sand bottle.


McGregor, Iowa

These bottles, upside-down or right-side-up, are tightly packed with minute grains of colored sand. The inventor and possibly sole practitioner of this unusual, 100-year-old art was Andrew Clemens, a small-town Iowa boy who lived on the Mississippi. Using more than 40 colors of sand he found along the river bank, Clemens rubbed dry sand on blotting paper with the bowl of a spoon to get tiny, uniform grains. He put the sand into bottles with a small tin scoop. Clemens carved tools from green hickory, shaped over a candle flame. With a 9-inch curved hickory wand like a crude hockey stick, he controlled the various colors while he packed grains down tightly with four hickory packers - of various lengths and weights. A straight wand on the outside measured perspective. He had to make pictures in the round-bottomed bottles upside-down. With these simple tools and without dye, glue or paste, Clemens made several hundred sand scenes like those above from the McGregor Historical Museum.

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