If you’re going to live the beach-house lifestyle, there’s one skill you can’t do without, and that’s the ability to build a respectable sandcastle. True beach lovers know that there’s nothing more relaxing than feeling the sun on your back, the wind through your hair, and wet sand on your hands as you construct a fairy-tale castle fit for a pint-sized king.
But if it’s been a few years since you dabbled in the sand-related arts, you may need some pointers from the experts. And strangely enough, there are experts. A whole community has grown up around the art of sandcastles, with contests, Web sites, and even newsletters.
So before you jet off to your beach-house vacation, get prepared with the following overview of sandcastle building. It’s all a matter of patience, the right tools, and lots and lots of, you guessed it, sand.
The first step to a successful sandcastle is a good water source. You can either dig a hole down to the water table (so that it fills with water) or get yourself a big bucket of seawater. You won’t get anywhere with sand that is too dry.
Then it’s all a matter of carving. Yes, carving. It turns out that sandcastle experts generally carve sandcastles from large mounds of sand, rather than attempting to build from the bottom up and forming flimsy (read doomed) walls and towers. They get themselves a nice pile of wet sand and carve it down into a castle shape.
To be a successful sandcastle-carver, you need tools. Whether you use Popsicle sticks, shells, shovels, spatulas or just your hands, you need a variety of tools to do a variety of different jobs, from carving out a tower to drawing in a window with a little sand princess looking out.
Start at the top of your pile and work downwards, that way the sand won’t roll down and destroy your work. Carve out a few towers, and pick out a suitable roof for your structure. Put in a few turrets and maybe a window or two. As you get to the bottom, add some landscaping, or maybe a moat.
The key is to go slow, and carve off just a little at time. If you get impatient, and scrape off a big chunk, you’ll have to start over again. Relax, get into the mood, and watch your dream castle slowly appear. But don’t get too attached. High tide will be here soon.
Sandcastle Resource Guide
There’s a whole big sandcastle world out there, with contests, Web pages, even computer games. Check out our selection of links to the online world of sand sculpture:
- Schedule of upcoming sandcastle-building contests from www.sandworld.com.
- Comprehensive guide to sandcastle contests, from www.sandcastlecentral.com, your online resource for all things sand sculpture.
- Home page of Sandscapes – a team of leading, sand sculptors, Brad Goll, Dan Belcher, Fred Dobbs, Kevin Crawford, and Greg & Brandi Glenn. Lots of information about their technique, links, photos, and more.
- Kirk Rademaker – sandsculptor / interactive environmental art and more.
- Page for professional sandcastle builder group. Tons of links and pictures, even a sandcastle chat room.