Sandcastle building is an art form

Ana Barrios / Contributing Writer

As Miami citizens, we absolutely love going to the beach. However, the current rainy season might mean we’re not going as much as we’d like. Nevertheless, a fun activity that is pretty popular at the beach is sandcastle building. Children and families bring pails, shovels and different tools to use for building sandcastles.

By using their imagination, a unique sandcastle is created and children play along with their parents by pretending to be knights, pirates, princes, princesses or anything their imagination demands. However, sandcastle building isn’t just an activity for children; it has also become a professional form of art.

Today, there are professional sandcastle sculptors here in Miami who create unique designs and do amazing things with their talents. Victor Leong, a professional sandcastle builder known as the Sandman, is one of two sand sculptors in the world who lights his castles on fire—the other lives in the Philippines.

Leong studied at the International Fine Arts College in the Design District of Downtown Miami to become an engineer artist. He’s been building sandcastles in Miami Beach since 1993.

Describing Miami Beach as his main territory, Leong says “Sandcastle builders have their own territory.”

The more sand he has, the more sections he can build to make his castles as big as 12 feet high by 40 feet wide.

The main ingredients an artist needs are sand and water; the right amount of both must be determined before construction. Wet sand is better to use because the surface tension causes sand grains to cling together to form little “bridges” between the grains.

Dry sand is too loose and not suitable for building sandcastles. When the wet sand dries after the artist finishes making a sandcastle, they can simply brush off any extra sand to polish their work.

The amount of sand needed varies and is based on however many sections they wish to add to a castle. According to Victor Leong, a builder might need about 40 tons of sand to build a sandcastle or perhaps even more depending on their idea.

Ideas for creating a sandcastle can come from one’s imagination, but the artists can also be inspired by castles they have seen from traveling. The variety of architectural styles of buildings inspires the artists to sketch out a design for a castle. From paper, many sandcastles are designed uniquely according to the artist’s style.

Competitions have been developed to give sand sculptors a chance at showing off their skill. One of the biggest sand sculpting competitions is the World Championship in Sand Sculpture that takes place every year in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia.

Sandcastle building has truly evolved into new form of art for artist to create a three-dimensional piece from a two-dimensional idea. It is a great way for those who are good at building things to show their skills to others and share their ideas to inspire onlookers. Entering a competition is a good idea for a builder to be recognized, but many are hired by people to build sandcastles for special occasions like wedding proposals or birthday celebrations.

If you are a creative person, try your hand at sandcastle building. You may discover you have a talent for building something incredible out of sand.

[image from Flickr]

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