Rick Mungeam of Beach Sand Sculptures came out to our beach with his wife, a bunch of buckets and an assortment of tools to get us building higher and more solid and more detailed.
We started by gathering a big circle of sand:
I should mention here that all sand is NOT created equal. For sandsculpting, it's best to use the smaller grained, more compact sand, which, Rick told us, is found back away from the shore. So keep that in mind. Also: Rick said the beaches near Sarasota, Florida, have really excellent sand for sculpting.
Next up: water! Yes, sand castle building takes lots of water. Here's some of my favorite fellas hauling it in:
So we watered down our pile to make a nice base for our castle. The base is also what gives a sculpture its height. So, yes, it's very important! And then comes the tower construction. When Rick showed us his "form" buckets, we couldn't believe it! The bottoms were hollowed out! This prevents that suction that happens with regular buckets when you try to pull them off the sand. And be sure you put the larger side of the bucket down first. Otherwise you won't be able to pull the form off. :)
Here's our first and second forms, just before Rick pulled them off:
And just what did we put in those forms? Well, there's a trick to it. You shovel in 3-4 inches of sand, then pour in a bunch of water. Use your hands to stir the mixture -- this gets a lot of the air out. Then tap tap tap all around the outside of the bucket to help the mixture settle. It gets so solid, you'll be thinking "concrete!" You keep filling that bucket in stages until you get to the top. To remove the form, you've got to do a lot of tapping to loosen it. Then you start twisting the rim of the bucket until it's loose all the way around. And then....
And then the fun begins! Break out the tools:
You'll want to spray after any carving to "set" it. The melon baller is fantastic for creating windows and doors. The hacksaw blade is great for all sorts of things. Use the straw to blow away sand more precisely than you could do with your fingers.The brush makes things pretty... and see below for what to do with that shovel:
Rick showed us how to make stone:
And then we all made our own towers while Rick showed us how to build arches:
Here's our masterpiece:
It was one of the most fun things we have ever done on the beach. And you can do it, too! Contact Rick, and he will meet you at any of the 30-A Destin/Fort Walton area resorts.
Oh. One more tip for you builders: when people come by and ask you, "What are you building?" don't tell them. Just say, "A pile of sand." That way they'll come back later to see your progress. :)
Bonus tip: don't be afraid to carve deep. You really want to create "shadow lines." Just go slowwwwww... and spray down after you carve!
Bonus tip #2: See that sand ball on top? Mix sand and water in a bucket. Scoop some out, and toss it from hand to hand. Do not pack. It's sand, not snow. Toss it from hand to hand, like dough. Roll in fresh sand, again, like you would roll dough in flour. Toss some more. Roll some more. Then carve a divot and position your sand ball!
Thank you, Rick, for a great lesson!