2017-04-05 / Featured Stories

Sand Sculpting for Dummies


Scoop . . . Scoop . . . Ready to get started? Sandy Feet (Lucinda Wierenga), one of the original “Sons of the Beach” (SoBs), is here to give you some tips. Sandy Feet and the Amazin’ Walter Mc- Donald (The Grand Pooh Bah of the SoBs) perfected a technique called “stacked sand.” It is a great way to begin. Here are some basics.

Build a Tower

Prepare your base for building by packing the loose sand. Pull in the edges and pound the top flat – so that your structures do not slide off the edge.

Dig a hole close to high tide mark until you hit water. Prepare your hole by mixing the sand and water – and we don’t mean just wiggle your fingers around in it! Really dig deep, pulling the heavier, compacted sand up and thoroughly mixing it with the water so that all the chunks break up and flow. A tower is nothing more than a stack of sand patties piled on top of each other. Use smaller handfuls as you gain altitude so that the tower tapers at the top and doesn’t get top-heavy and fall over before you get to carve it.


Plop . . . Plop . . . Start by mixing your sand and water to a smooth consistency.

Scoop out the largest handful you can (the bigger the base, the taller you can build) and plop it down, gently, on the pile of sand that you dug out of your hole.

Do not constrict the wet sand, especially near the bottom…you want it to spread.

Flatten your handfuls of wet sand into pancakes by jiggling them with gentle pressure. DO NOT pound, push, pat, pack, press or pummel the sand into submission! The goal is to distribute the water consistently throughout the patty so it settles into and binds to the patty below. As you attain altitude, apply less pressure on the top and jiggle the sides more. Do not jiggle the whole tower! You can only vibrate the sand that is still super wet. If you attempt to jiggle sand that has already set, it will break the bond holding the layers together and compromise your structure’s integrity. If jiggling does not make the sand spread, you are not using enough water.


Flatten . . . Flatten . . . Mix up the sand and water in the bottom of your hole and try again.

Build a Wall

Once again, pull a double handful of wet sand from the hole. This time, instead of flattening it into a pancake, hold the sides between your flattened hands, jiggle and hold until the water runs through so that the sand takes a brick shape. Note that you should not be putting any pressure on the tops of your bricks at all. Keep your hands flat and parallel to each other – about 3-4 inches apart so your bricks are large and uniform.

Keep laying bricks end to end for the desired length of the wall, then lay another layer on top, repeating until you reach the desired height.


Jiggle . . . Jiggle . . . To form a staircase, first carve the wall into a descending ramp, then cut in individual steps.

You will find a more detailed explanation of this procedure, as well as techniques for building and combining other structures, in the SoB “Take me to the Beach” Sand Castle Book, available in hard copy or as a pdf download at www.unlitter.com or by calling (956) 761-6222.


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