Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sand Castles in the Sea

Here’s a picture from our recent Sand Castle Days on South Padre Island. We had a little amateur team that did a lion and mouse along the theme of Aesop’s Fables, which was fun. I basically packed sand and water for the gals, got sunburned and sore, but had a wonderful time. Oh, and thanks to Char from Colorado for the picture of Captain Ahab here, or whoever it is. Thanks to the "Sons of the Beach" for this sand castle, by the way. I've always wanted to be a SOB.

Anyway, after some politics and frustrations, the event went off very well – so well I suggested to folks on Block Island that they should try such an event, too. You could hear that idea hit the floor with a dead thump, but hey, we’re talking sand castles at least 12 feet high here! Amazing international artists. Loads of fun. What’s your deal?

In the space of two weeks the Gulf water temperature had dropped from 86 to 73. There are not many people in the surf and we’re unpacking our boxes from the Austin move, looking for those heavy-duty wetsuits. Where oh where are you guys? But the beach is still fun. Later,


Sam said...

Lori tells me that the SOB's did not in fact carve the sand castle statue in the picture, so I stand corrected. I still love the term, though! Does anyone remember the artist?

Everett said...

Hey Sam, Is the sand down there about comparable to what we have on Crescent beach? I can't imagine how you make it stay put with out some kind of binder. Elmers? super glue? EGGS? I give please elucidate for we older denizens of the beach. BTW, I think it is a great idea and will put it to the Rec. Director. I assume you would have different age/talent groups?

Sam said...

Well Everett, the sand if probably a little different up on BI because it washes in and washes out each summer with the storms. The important part is to have some "organic" material in there - think clays, of which BI has plenty. That said, most sand castles don't last more than 1-4 days. That's the beauty of 'em!

Boy did you hit the nail on the head. The pros will mix some powerized clay in their water buckets when they make the forms or "throw" the sand in two-handed heaps. You start carving from the top, keeping it really wet with a pump sprayer, and then as it is done you can shoot some water with a wee tad of Elmer's Glue, not much, and very lightly of course. This provides a skin against the wind and sun. Other than that, water is what makes it work.

I really am a bomb at carving the rascals, but the folks really like it when I pile up sand like over 6 feet so they can play with it. The trick there is to use flexible 5 mm plastic sheets, 2-4 feet tall, which are joined for a round form with two or more little clamps.

Like stomping wine, people shovel good sand (no trash or rocks) onto the form as another does the stomping dance - kids are great for this. Water has to be flowing and mixing. Kids are good water getters, too. Some folks will then tamp down the sand when full, since that makes the sand more tight.

So repeat this until you have the desired height, using smaller forms as you go up. We usually leave the forms on until the carvers are ready, so it real stays wet. Taking off the clamps can be a big deal - some folks leave the clamps on the inside! No, not always girls, either. You'd be surprised.

Castles, mermaids, presidents; you name it and it can be carved. Sand with larger grains that dry faster will fall down faster. They all do. That's half the fun!