SAND SCULPTURE Sand Sculptures...what a great idea.

' Mente et Artificio' 'With mind and hand'

Why Sandsculpture Biography Sand sculpture basics Interior sculptures Exterior sculptures





Dale Murdock's Art Concepts

Making a pile of sand comes naturally to anyone on the beach. Anyone who wants to try a sand sculpture should look for sand in the obvious place, the beach. Most of the world lives near some sort of beach, either the ocean, a lake or a river.

If on the ocean, remember that the waves have washed out a lot of the silt and the grains will be rounded and hard to keep together. Look for a place that is calm, perhaps a bay. Look for a river nearby that flows to the sea as the silt will wash up on the shore and create good conditions for sand sculpting.


Clothing is whatever the weather permits, but be careful with bare feet, especially when using a shovel.

Rivers have good sand for sculpting but you have to find a good beach. There usually are beaches and sand bars that can be used.

Lakes can be great if the sand is fine and silt. Too many shells or stones can make sculpting and compacting difficult

Shovels are a good thing to have. Moving sand around is hard work and using your hands makes all the more difficult. Try to get it out of the way as soon as possible but do think about what you are doing so that you are putting sand where you need it for your sculpture.
Don't move sand twice, and use the sand for the shape you are going to sculpt, instead of making a huge mound and trying to take off 60% of what you just piled up.

Forms are used to contain sand for compacting and are placed in the general shape of the sculpture to be. Forms can be plywood panels linked together with wood cross members on top and bottom as seen below. Wood forms are heavy, expensive, difficult to move and store.


Plastic pool liners for in ground pools can be cut to two foot height and clamped at their overlapped edges to form whatever circular size you need and rolled to be stored in a plastic garbage can.

Forms can be as simple as a garbage bucket with the bottom cut out and inversed. (Remember to leave a lip on the plastic garbage bucket and sand the edges, their sharp!) Plastic garbage cans are easy to store and you can make several different sizes as you need for towers, heads, etc. There are plastic containers that look like giant garbage pails for roof drainage that are huge and complete enough to do sme larger scupted forms.

Filling the Forms

When you begin, fill the form with about six to ten inches of sand and depending on how wet the sand is, add water. If the sand is heavy grained and doesn't hold together well, use lots of water. If it pools on top, it may be too dirty, having too much silt, clay, etc. It will slump if water is added, be weak and unstable. Too many heavy grains and it will be weak as well. Fine sand is the best.

Use a tamper of some description, your feet, or fists to ram the sand solid. Continue to add sand in layers, water and ramming the sand solid until you reach the top.

Stack another smaller form on top. (Wood or plastic). Continue until you reach your final height.

Release the first form. If it is wood, the forms are best held in place by a method that is easy to release. Do not nail them together, if you do, remember that you have to take the nails out! Leave an inch of the head exposed to use a crowbar or pry-bar to remove the nails smoothly and gently. No hammering as it will crack the block inside or if you have descended it will crack or break everything above. Lag bolts can be used, holes drilled through the two overlapping members and steel rods inserted. All have their pros and cons. Lags can break when you unwind them, steel rods can bend making removal difficult or impossible. Nails can get chewy and bend too as the pressure in these boxes can be enormous. Watch when you remove the bigger ones on the bottom later on as the pressure can make them pop out at you and land on your bare feet.
Follow any cracks carefully to see what the damage is (if any) and make a plan to cut away what you think will fall. Take from the top first, reduce in incriments so that you don't provoke large peices to fall and thing to spiral out of control. Use trowels or hands to sculpt and slice away the weight at the top. Remove as much weight as you can while shaping the sculpture.

Finish everything in the first form or open two at a time if you feel brave. Always start at the top and work your way down, otherwise you will just generate sand from up above the beautiful thing you carved and bury it in sand. Move around the sculpture! It is not 2D but 3D or for those with more imagination, 4D!

Check out Advanced Sculpting Techniques for more information
Home email

Copyright 2006

Tel: 33 (0)6 80 50 41 39 (France)

All Rights Reserved