One of the more treasured artifacts at the Chaska History Center is this rare piece of sand art. It was a gift to Magdalena Faber at her wedding in 1883. Not much more is known about Lena, but her father was an early resident of Chaska, building the first commercial structure in town in 1858 with money he had acquired in the gold fields of California. This building still stands on the southwest corner of Walnut Street and Second Street.
Though we are unable to prove the artifact’s connection to a specific person, its age, proximity and great detail suggests that the creator of this sand art bottle was Andrew Clemens of McGregor, Iowa, 1857-1894. Clemens collected his sands from beaches along the shores of the Mississippi. He fashioned special tools made from pieces of hickory and fishhooks and arranged the individual grains of sand into amazing, intricately detailed designs like those found in the historical society’s example.
Learn more about Andrew Clemens and his incredible works of sand art:
McGregor Historical Museum and its newspaper archives can also provide photos and more details of his life and art.
“The Sand Art Bottles of Andrew Clemens” book by Roy Sucholeiki, in the Chaska History Center library
By Julie Wiese