Sand Castles and Sculpture Tools and Tricks

sandcastle tools pound upSand Castle/Sculpture Pound Up

You’ve probably scoured the web like we have searching for how the competition pros do those awesome sculptures at the competitions. Most don’t mention how many days the competition takes (or weeks!). Lots of sand, water, tractors, time and glue…magic ingredients. My father, who has been featured in the local news numerous times for his sculptures, uses a refined tool set for the quick half-day sculpts on Maui beaches.

Step One: The pound up. This is where you stack sand to sculpt. It is important to use plenty of water and to use fine sand (not the coarse grainy stuff). Layer dry/moist sand about 4-6in thick, then pour one 5-gallon bucket of water on it. Use your fingers to “poke” deep holes in the sand to allow the air to escape. Use a pounder(something relatively flat, hard and heavy) to really beat down the sand to pack it down. Remember, you want the sand to be dense without air pockets for the best sculpting material. Repeat adding sand on top of each other until you have reached the top. Add more forms to go higher and repeat!

Sand Sculpting Tools

sandcastle tools verywideTop. Forms. Recycled from large wire spools. Tied together with mule tape.
Top Leaning. Pounder. A 2×4 screwed on to a flat hard wood. Used to pack the sand after the air is taken out.
Left. Beer.
Right Middle. 2 Buckets. Used for water.
Middle.  Butter knife
Middle. Small flat blade
Middle. Large flat blade

Middle Right. Large triangle. Useful for initial rough sculpts.
Right. Hand rake.
Right. Water pump. Keep them wet!! or they will fall over
Right.  Plastic straw (Human powered pressurized sicalate motivitor). Used for finishing fine detail.
Bottom tools:
Fork. Knife, Custom bamboo tools, brush, flat blade.

Custom bamboo tools

If you find Jim on the beach in Maui sculpting sand away, ask him about purchasing a set for your self. These are hand crafted, will never rust and really speed up the detail work. Oh, and they are 100% Hawaiian and 100% recycled!

sandcastle tools closeupThe red stick next to the bamboo tools is used as a “sketching” tool to work out ideas before digging in. The brush helps remove even areas and develop smooth shapes.

Glue, Coloring and Stuff in Your Sculpture

Don’t use them. Glue is for competition and isolated projects, not messing around. Food coloring is tacky. And adding stuff like seaweed and shells is for sandcastles, not sand sculptures…

Regardless of what you may read on the web, glue and food coloring do impact the beaches negatively. Even water soluble glue creates an imbalance in the water chemistry. Food dye leaves behind that heavily concentrated compound on our beaches (and it looks silly!). Unless you found it naturally on the beach, it doesn’t belong there. Pack in, pack out.

So start with a sketch and get out and have fun!

See some fun beach sketches here from January!

One Comment

  1. […] to try my skills at sculpting in the sand.  I’ve been researching all week for some tips and tricks on how to make sand resemble something out of a fantasy.  Don’t know if mine will be quite […]

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