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Sand Sculpture

By piling, digging, carving and hollowing out this common element, turning it into mythical scenes and fairytale figures, sand sculptors have turned the art of carving in sand into a new trend in many big cities.

A Brief Introduction to Sand Sculpture

Known as a modern art for only 20 years, sand sculpting is a popular and recreational art capable of drawing widespread attention from the public. Sand sculptures can create new tourist programmes wherever they go, bringing in considerable commercial profits. From this point of view, the art is the result of the perfect combination of modern art and modern commerce and is closely linked with tourism. For the last 20 years, this symbiosis has greatly promoted the development of sand sculptures around the world.

Sand sculptures can now be found in more than 100 countries and regions, especially in popular coastal cities. Sand sculptures have become one of the most popular itineraries during sea visits. Meanwhile, the art has also spread to the inland cities.

Over the past few years, the art has aroused widespread interest in Asia -- with Japan, Singapore and China as hosts to various sand sculpture contests. With the launch of the International Colored Sand Sculpture Festival in Yunnan Province , China, the art is also becoming richer in content.

Instant-Disintegrating Art

Sand and seawater are the basic materials for sand sculptures, which are molded into various patterns by digging, carving and hollowing out sand. Sand sculptures contain no chemical adhesives. Once a piece of the sculpture is completed, a special glue-water solution is sprayed over the surface to set the sculpture. Normally, the sculpture can be preserved for several months. Since it is not easy to preserve sand sculptures, which disintegrate over a period of time, the art form is also known as "instant-disintegrating art".

Sand sculpting is also a kind of land art that blends with nature and without emitting any pollutants. Sand sculptures, unlike most traditional sculptures, are admired for their large scale.

Sand sculpting is also a marginal art -- an amalgamation of the elements of sculpting, painting, construction and outdoor recreation. Requiring no professional training, the art can be taken up by anyone. Sand sculpting is known as a fashionable, healthy and exciting programme for leisure and entertainment purposes.


Tools for sculpting can come from your kitchen or workshop. A shovel is a must -- so is a bucket. Choose a shovel with a long handle to avoid back injuries. Masonry trowels, spatulas, apple corers, chisels, Popsicle sticks, spoons, knives, pastry brushes and ice-cream scoops are also useful. A plastic fork with the middle prongs taken out makes a perfect tool for forming columns. A spray bottle filled with a glue-water solution is also recommended to help maintain the surface shape longer.


Location is of great importance to a successful sand sculpture. Look for a high-tide line where the darker, wet sand turns into white sand that blows about easily. Pick up a fistful of wet sand and compress it into a ball; when released, the sand should remain fairly intact. If it disintegrates, it is not good for building a sand sculpture. The desired location should be far enough from the sea to avoid the tide, yet not too far away from the water.

Basic Steps

Once a location is chosen, a foundation must be made: Dig down until you hit the wet sand. Now, you must accumulate enough wet mortar sand to produce a solid foundation for your main sculpture, otherwise known as "tamping." Set a mold, such as a wooden box or plastic trashcan with no bottom, firmly onto a flat surface. Check to make sure it is level. Add water and sand alternately into the mold, tamping it down as you proceed. The goal of tamping is not to bash the sand into submission, it is to mold your wet sand into pancakes using gentle motions and retaining as much water within the patties as possible. The mound created by stacking sand patties can then be carved to form the structure's basic shape.

When the form is mold is filled, lift it slowly while tapping the base with a mallet or another tool. You can create the upper form directly on top of the base form.

When your rough structure is ready for carving, start from the top, working your way down, and always carving outward to retain structural integrity. Remove unwanted sand from all sides of the sculpture. Do not attempt to complete one side at a time, and concentrate first on building a simple shape as the main structure. You can add sand later to make other structures.

Cut away the tops from empty aluminum cans to form smaller structures, such as outposts, turrets, and whatever other can-shaped structural additions you can devise for sandcastles.

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