Summer ConstructionThe Art of the Sand Castle


Whew! Looks like it’s going to be a hot one this year and as summer heats up, the local beach becomes a popular family attraction. Enjoying a few hours in the sand and the waves is a beloved pastime for kids and adults alike and to do it right, there are many essentials. Towels, radios, inflatables, a football or frisbee, sunblock and cool shades are definitely on the list. To truly enjoy the beach properly, however, you can’t forget a pail and shovel. These simple tools are absolutely a must for the construction of an amazing, well-fortified, moat-surrounded, finely-detailed, triple-decker sand castle.

No one is quite sure when the first human built the first castle or sculpture made of sand. Most likely, it dates back to the beginning of humanity itself. Many believe that the ancient Egyptians made sand sculptures of their famous pyramids. An Indian myth dating back to the 14th century referred to poet Balaram Das as one who built devotional scriptures from sand. The first true sand sculpture on record is believed to be one of a drowned woman and her child credited to Philip McCord in 1897. Macabre as it was, the McCord sculpture started a brief sand-sculpting trend among artists on beaches along the United States coast that continues with today’s professional artists and competitions, and nearly every kid (or adult) with an imagination and sense of adventure.

As stated, a pail and shovel are essential (preferably in fun, fluorescent colors) but to really get into it, sand sculpture enthusiasts recommend carving tools such as putty knives, paint scrapers and trowels, and finishing items such as a soft-bristled paintbrush and a straw for blowing loose sand out of delicate details.

Here are a few tips to build the ultimate sand castle:

1. Dig a water hole. The goal here is to dig a “well” unless you want to constantly lug full buckets of water to your creation. The only way to sculpt sand is when it’s wet, so having a constant source of water nearby makes everything easier.

2. Build a Base. This is the critical step that every amateur skips. Every solid structure needs a good foundation. To build your base, create a large mound of sand next to your water hole. Take the handle of your shovel and poke holes in the mound of sand. Pour water into the holes, then stomp on the pile until it feels solid beneath you. Add more holes and water as necessary.

3. Moisten as Needed. As you begin to shape and smooth your castle, the sand will dry out. It is essential to keep it wet as you get into the delicate nooks and crannies of your design.

4. Mix, Scoop, Plop & Jiggle. Learn each move to build your towers. Mix the sand with the water at the bottom of your well, Scoop out a big handful of sand, Plop the handful in one fluid motion onto your base, and Jiggle gently. The goal is to get a new, flat layer of sand to melt into the layer beneath it.

5. Carve from Top to Bottom. Always work from the highest point down, otherwise loose sand will mar lower carvings. Keep brushing dry sand away from the wet sand
you are working on.

Enjoy your new beach palace!


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