Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Sand Sculpting

by Linda Farmer Harris 

I guess we all have a bucket list—those things we want to do before old age intervenes and our bucket has a hole in it.

My family has always lived in the desert or the mountains, and I've never walked on an ocean beach. Maybe that's why I want to take my bucket to a wide, isolated stretch of clean sand and play.

Historians surmise that sand art may have been part of our creative expression since the Egyptians used sand models to outline the design of pyramids before actual construction began. It wasn't until the 16th century that the art was documented.

I have no sculpting talent. Thankfully, it runs in my husband's family. Niece Tracy Diane Harris Sugg is an internationally renowned sculptor with commissioned pieces in the US and Europe.

One of my favorites of Tracy's many bronze and clay pieces is an American Revolution heroine Margaret Corbin. Her husband, John, dead at her feet, she bravely took up his part of firing the cannon until gravely wounded she was taken prisoner. She is buried at West Point US Military Academy. Tracy creates models in accurate historical clothing and accompanying artifacts.

Margaret Corbin, American Revolution heroine — Tracy H. Sugg, Sculptor
Yes, I'd love to take her to the beach with me and my bucket. She does commission work. Hmm, I wonder...

Having no talent myself, what other options do I have? Well, I can go to the festivals and enjoy the artwork of others - 88 Incredible Sand Sculptures, and it is art and it is work! Take your time to savor these master pieces.

I could buy a sandcastle tool kit and learn to do it myself.

Sandcastles Made Simple—Lucinda "sandy feet" Wierenga
Notice that Ms. Wierenga's book title implies a promise that sandcastles are simple to build. She recommends South Padre Island, Texas—The Sandcastle Capital of the World. We lived in central Texas for 41 years and never went to South Padre Island—6 hours and 8 minutes away. Shameful!  

Tools of the trade are essential in any craft and sandcastles have their requirements. A basic kit will have pastry knives, a corded blow tube, a pointed trowel, a floozy (duster), and custom hand tools.

Courtesy of Wikipedia
That seems to be a lot of work for a sand creation that will be swept away by the rising tide, crushed under the rolling waves; even when it's an historic reproduction or for a romantic reasons.

Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley University, CA, 2005—Kirk Rademaker
Courtesy of Sandcastlecentral.com
In 1897, Philip McCord is recorded as the sculptor of a woman and baby in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Documentation came from the folks who paid him for his creations.

In the 1980, Todd Vander Pluym started Sand Sculptors International, based in Redondo Beach, California, and is considered the organization that set the standards for this art form.

Sandcastles have been moved indoors and used as business logo presentations for a new business, mall openings, birthday and wedding venues, theme parties, etc.

Alice in Wonderland took 6 weeks to complete
I could get a kit and learn to use the tools, or I can learn to hand-stack a sculpture.

Hand-stacked sculpture in the 2003 Hot Springs, British Columbia World Championship
Or, I can choose to use the "drip" method, which depends on very wet sand dripped on top of other wet sand to create towers of sand globs.

courtesy of whatstherumpus.blogspot.com
I know I'll never be a professional sand sculptor like Karen Fralich, or have my own "Sand Masters" TV show like the Sand Guys, but wouldn't it be fun to see if I could do more than dig my toes in the wet sand and wait for the waves to fill in my footprints?

courtesy of earthporm.com

Flea Circus [Image Credit: Evelyn Tan]

Africa [Image Credit: Sandstorm]
Have you ever tried building sand castles? Don't forget the floozy!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of California Gold Rush Romance Collection.
Barbour Publishing, August 2016


Linda "Lin" Farmer Harris
Turning Tidbits of History into Unforgettable Stories

Lin and her husband, Jerry, live on a hay and cattle ranch in Chimney Rock, Archuleta County, Colorado. Monsoon season makes for good mud, but not sandcastles

Her novella, The Lye Water Bride is included in The California Gold Rush Romance Collection (Barbour Publishing, August 2016, print and eBook).


  1. Those are amazing and your niece is very talented. I've never done more than walk along a beach and collect shells. I think that it would break my heart to watch any 'masterpiece' I made get swept away. How can people create such works of art, only to see them destroyed? Boggles the mind. Thanks for sharing and for the opportunity to win The California Gold Rush Romance Collection. This California girl would love to win it.

    1. Good morning, Debbie, good to have you here. I've wondered how I'd feel about seeing my sand sculpture melt away with the tide. I'd be hard pressed to appreciate that part of the art. Maybe while I was learning...Thanks for stopping by.

  2. No. I've never had the opportunity to build sandcastles but I am in see of some of the creations you've shown us. Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win The California Gold Rush Romance Collection.

  3. Thanks for the lesson in building sand castles. I would probably buy the sand castle making kit if I lived close to an Ocean, but the river bank doesn't have enough sand to make much of anything. These are some pretty talented people who made these sand castles.

    1. Howdy, Debbie, appreciate you being here. I've had so much fun with my gold panning kit on the river that runs through our ranch. I've been told there is gold in "them there hills." That remains to be seen! So, I'd be inclined to buy the sand castle making kit, too.

  4. My sandcastles tend to be the ones done with children/grandchildren of the bucket method...and go off with the outgoing/incoming tides. But that's ok, because of the company I have when I go to the beach.

    1. Good morning, Connie. Yes, it's definitely the company that would be the most fun. After this post was finished, I saw a program on an international competition. I thought they'd be somber, focused, even grumpy given the stakes of the competition, but they were joking, playing and having a fun time. Made me want to play in the sand even more.

  5. I am amazed at the things people can create with sand. :-) Thanks for sharing the photos.

    1. Hi Melissa, glad you stopped by. Creative people do amazing things with ordinary materials. I knit and am amazed when people compliment my skill because it's not that extraordinary to me. I wonder if the "sand people" feel the same way.

  6. I will use the Random Number Generator at http://www.random.org/ to select today's winner. So as comments come in they are numbered and all will be put in the generator in that order.

  7. I've never tried building a sandcastle (unless I was very young and don't remember.) But then, the only time I've been to the beach was the year before last and I spent the entire time in the water, even sitting in the shallow water to be rocked back and forth with the waves while I ate my lunch. 😃 It's been a lifelong dream of mine to see the ocean! (There's the top item on my bucket list that's been checked off! Though I'm thinking of putting a second trip on my list...😉)
    I've seen a sand sculpture before at the state fair and it was AMAZING! It was of a castle and it's the only one I've actually seen in real life.
    p.s. I LOVE these Barbour collections! I collect them!
    Elly -Indiana-

  8. Hi Elly. Oh, you must add the beach again and this time at least scoop some sand and made a tall mound with twigs on top, and maybe a sea shell or two. That's about as creative as I could get. I'm so glad you enjoy the Barbour collections. It was a lot of fun writing The Lye Water Bride. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Oh, this makes me want to play in the sand! Thanks for sharing these beautiful creations, Linda!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  10. Hi Britney, thanks for stopping by. It does make my toes wiggle!

  11. Thank you for sharing your interesting post' Linda. Some of the creations made in the sand are amazing. I think I have done something when I turn a bucket of sand over and it keeps it shape.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

    1. Howdy Melanie, so glad to see you. Thanks for stopping by. I'm looking forward to trying that myself. Jerry offered to take me to the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve here in Colorado, but it just wouldn't be the same.