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Building Awesome Sandcastles

Building sandcastles will make you feel like a kid at heart! But don't stop with just filling a bucket with sand and flipping it over. With just a few tools and some patience, you can turn plain old sand and water into amazing sand sculptures that will make beach goers stop and take notice! Here are several keys to building awesome sandcastles that will have you competing in contests in no time!

The Sand to Water Ratio

Trying to build a sandcastle with dry sand is pointless. You'll end up with a dry pile of sand that won't hold any shape. You'll also end up frustrated and in tears! Adding water to it completely changes its moldability. The water makes the tiny pieces of sand stick together, allowing you to create beautiful sculptures! You want to add lots of water to your dry sand and then compact it as much as possible. The more it’s compacted together, the easier it will be to sculpt! Keep a bucket of water near you so you can add water as you go! Having the right sand to water ratio is the first step to building awesome sandcastles!

The Tools

While you will use your hands to build the castle, you'll also need tools. The first thing you’re going to want is a shovel with a long handle, like a spade shovel. You’ll use this to stack up your sand and pack it down. Make sure your shovel is sturdy and isn’t going to bend or break with the pressure.

Bring along a couple of buckets. Fill one with water and keep it next to you so you can keep your sand wet. Use the other bucket to mix the sand and water in so you’re not just dumping more water over the top of your sculpture. If you’re building on a beach, you may only need one bucket, as you will be able to dig down to the water as you’re getting your sand ready.

Next you need your sculpting tools! You'll want a variety of things for different techniques. Common sandcastle sculpting tools include kitchen knives, rulers, putty knives, paint scrapers, straw (to blow the sand out of small areas), toothpicks, pencils, paint brushes, spray bottles filled with colored water, etc.

The Technique

As mentioned above, keep water on hand and add it to your sculpture as you built! The best way to do this is to mix the sand and water in small amounts in a bucket and add it as needed. Jiggle it until it’s settled on your sculpture, and then add more. This allows the really wet sand to settle on top of the pile and not smash what's under it by applying too much pressure. This way you are sure to maintain the proper ratio and density as you build.


Now that you've learned how to build awesome sandcastles, why not showcase your new skill? There are plenty of sandcastle building contests all over the US! You just have to know where to find them.

Sun & Sea Festival
Located in Imperial Beach, CA, world-class sand sculptors come from all around to compete in this contest! These sculptures are not limited to a castle though. Previous sculptors have created things like trains, animals, hands coming up from out of the sand, and much more! There are tons of other activities to take part in too, such as a parade, a pancake breakfast, a farmers market, kid’s activities, and even a ball!

Neptune Festival
This fun festival is a summer long party in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This competition brings out some of the best sculptors who compete under a huge tent! For those of you just venturing into the hobby of sandcastle building, there’s an amateur contest. This festival also features a wine festival, golf tournament, concerts, and a craft beer festival! It starts in May and doesn’t end until early September!

Point Reyes Annual Sand Sculpture Contest
This event, held in Point Reyes National Seashore, CA, is for amateurs only! There are competitions for kids, families, individuals, and groups! All sculptors are encouraged to use things they find around them, such as seashells, feathers, plastic, and anything else they can find on the beach. There’s even an award for the castle that uses the most recycled plastic!

Now that you know about the tools and techniques needed for building awesome sandcastles, get out there and practice. This is a super fun thing you can do with your friends or family on any camping trip or beach day. Who knows, maybe you’ll get so good at it, you’ll take first place at one of the above-mentioned competitions!

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