Sandcastles By Tesa Adams-Visit Her Hub Page At The Bottom Of The Page

SandCastle Competitions and Fun at the Beach

By Tesa Adams

Sandcastle Pail and Shovel

Can you think of a time when you were at the beach that you didn't, at some point, try to mess around with wet sand? I can't.

As a little kid, many years ago, I can remember getting all excited about going to the beach. I would gather up my plastic buckets and shovels and put them in my beach bag, all excited that I was going to go build a sandcastle at the beach. Isn't that where dreams are born, in sandcastles?

A Little History

As an art form Sandcastle building and sand sculpting has been around for centuries. We really don't know how long but it has been speculated the ancient Egyptians used sand to make models of the pyramids. They certainly had plenty of sand available!

There is also a reference to a myth dating sometime around the 16th century of the poet Balaram Das, a reported saint and poet, who supposedly built devotional sculptures from sand.

Sometime in the early 1900's word was that money could be made in sand sculpting. Mainly from sand artists along the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ where people walking along the Boardwalk would toss money into the hats of the artists. Much like our street musicians and artists of today.

From what I have read, modern day sand sculpting blossomed in California in the 70's. The team of Gerry Kirk and Todd VanderPluym (Sand Sculptors International) set the standard for the incredible art form of sand sculpting. They organized a team of sculptors to form and sculpt very detailed replicas of castles and of fantasy architecture. (I am pleased when I can keep a couple of buckets of sand stacked on top of each other without them crumbling or toppling.)

Amazing Sand Sculpting

Time Intensive Sand Sculpting

Time Intensive Sand Sculpting

In our time, almost every beachside community/resort has a sand castle competition of some sort. In Western Europe there are huge festivals with the artists each trying to out sculpt each other in the size and special effects department. Hundreds of competitions are held worldwide. Some of the artists techniques are very sophisticated with some even achieving record breaking recognition as noted in the Gunniess Book of World Records. I have only been to a festival here in the States.

SandFest Festival, Port Aransas, Texas

SandFest Festival, Port Aransas, Texas

Festival Fun

Bach Vacation Fun

Beach Vacation Fun
What I didn't know about Sand Sculpting

That the most important part is the "pound up". That is where the walls are formed out of wood and are built either in a square or rectangle shape. These forms are filled with sand all the way to the top. After the filling, the artists get to work checking that the sand is compacted down so that the sand is as hard as possible. Sometimes they achieve this by a combination

Wooden Forms

of watering it down, jumping on it or pounding it with some sort of heavy tool. This step is repeated with successive forms until whatever height required is achieved. Usually the process starts a week or so before any competition. You definitely wouldn't want your sculpture to collapse in the middle of a sculpt due to poor foundation preparation work. Once the forms are all set and everything is ready to go, the artist removes the top wooden form to start the sculpture. They always work top to bottom. I did notice that there were little pieces of wire sticking up on the top of each sculpture. It took me a little bit to figure out why.....duh, keeps the birds from landing on the art piece.

Lady in the Castle

The Carving,The Sculpting, The Artistry

This begins the truly amazing part I think. The carving, the brushing and the sculpting. I have seen the artists use all kinds of tools. Some of I have recognized from being in my kitchen, others from sitting in the dentist chair. I never thought of dental tools as being part of a sand sculptures tool pack, but they are used for fine detail work. In their bag of tricks there are several sizes of paint brushes, fine details brushes, knives, spatulas, trowels, cheese slicers, pastry tools, you just never know what might come in handy. You will almost always see a very large bucket of water next to each sculpture station for easy refill when they need water. They usually have a spray bottle filled with water somewhere very near their hands to smooth areas when they are working.

Tools of the trade

The Professional Competitions and Festivals

The professional competitions are usually a timed event lasting several days before the final judging of their art. The competitors start at a certain time every morning and must stop at a certain time every night. I personally have gone to the SandFest in Port Aransas Texas several times and have had such a great time. And after writing this article and remembering all the good times we all had, I am going to make reservations at our favorite beachfront condo to go to next year's festival.

Competitors Competing at the SandFest Festival

Competitors Sand Sculpting Competition
I think the most appropriate beach wear is a bathing suit with a pair of shorts and maybe a short sleeve light weight t-shirt in case your shoulders get too sunburned. Remember to put on your sunscreen! Most everyone I saw was wearing flip-flops but I wore old comfy tennis shoes. There isn't really any need to bring your beach towel or your beach chairs with you to the festival unless you are planning on hanging out at the beach near the festival. Remember too to drink plenty of fluids while you are having fun at the beach.

Beachwear for Festival

Comfortable beachwear and beverages

Where to Stay

Most beach vacation rentals require you to stay a minimum of three days for any type of festival that is going on. Sometimes they will work with you on that requirement but we all desire to take a 3 day beach vacation at least once in a while. Unless you book early you probably won't be able to get the beachfront locations but you can get pretty close. Usually your beach rental whether a hotel or condo is within walking distance to beach and/or public transportation to the festival. Parking is usually a mess so take public transportation and avoid the hassle.

What to expect at the Festival

At the sand festivals/competitions there will usually be plenty of commercial vendors, mom and pop booths, crafts, Children's entertainment centers, food, music, public transportation and good-natured people. At the Festival sites there are also amateur, pro-am and children sandcastle building competitions. Some festivals even offer classes on the beach. After all people are generally in a good mood when they are at the beach near the water, why not try and learn something together with friends or your family members. It is all so amazing to me, the beautiful, the whimsical, the thought provoking works of art that all started out as blocks of sand and some water. These works of art are a one of a kind that will only be there for a short time. Soon to be erased away by wind and surf returning back to their original state, sand and water.

At the end of the day you might even be inspired to build something totally different and unique like the following

Amazing Sculptures

Here's Looking at You Sand Sculpture

Here's Looking At You

Sand Scupture-Walking Out Of The Sea

Walking Out Of The Sea

I know for my next trip to the beach, I am going to clean out my kitchen drawers and see what kind of cool tools I can find in my garage to use for my sandcastle creation. I can hardly wait!

The Benefits of a Beach Vacation

All of us are under a fair amount of stress these days with overbooked schedules, if you have children (that in itself is enough), shuffling the kids back and forth to their many activities, and just the...thing to remove the stress and relax at a beach vacation where the ocean breezes will just whisk them away.

Kudos to Tesa Adams for a superb Hub Page. Thank You, Tesa.

For those who don't know what a Hub Page is, it is a free service that lets you create web pages on almost any topic you can think of. Here is a link to the main Hub Page. Enjoy. It's fun.

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