I loosely based my technique on Crafy Cupid's tutorial here: http://www.craftycupid.com/index.php/cc/entry/mache-mixed-media-heart-tutorial/
For working with the messy paste, I employed this Martha Stewart tip using a rubber band to create a scraper which easily removed the excess paste from my paper strips:
When they were completely dry, I applied a layer of gesso and then a coat of acrylic paint to each heart. Both of my hearts were crackled using Ranger's Rock Candy Distress Crackle Paint. Here's something interesting that I discovered... The gold heart was painted with a glossy metallic acrylic paint underneath the crackle. When dry, the crackle still appeared very shiny and crystal clear. The blue heart, however, was painted with a matte acrylic paint under the crackle. This one ended up looking much more opaque (sort of like sea glass) as the crackle coat seemed to take on some of the aspects of the underlying paint. Both results looked terrific but were notably different. For this project, I topped off the blue heart with an extra coat of glossy glazing medium to bring back that high shine finish I had anticipated.
The "sand" for my beach scene came from a pre-packaged bead mix and I just love the way this looks! I used Glossy Accents to adhere the beads, shells, and charms.
So here are my finished results... I hope you like them as much as I enjoyed making them:
I also made an extra heart which I covered with distress doilies and pretty printed napkins layered over a bronze crackle finish: