We’ve included answers to some of the most common questions asked…
No, we can’t use the sand that’s on our beach for a couple of reasons: First, competitors need sand that is very fine (2mm grain) and it must be free of seaweed, pebbles, bits of shell, etc., to prevent faults in the sculptures. Also, we’re right at sea level – and tidal – so if our competitors attempted to dig 10 or 15 yards of sand out of our beach, they’d be neck-deep in water before they even start building. We purchase clean sand free of debris from local suppliers on Vancouver Island
Each soloist receives 10 years of sand on a 12’x15′ plot and the doubles receive 15 yards on a 20’x20′ plot. The sculptors can use the sand within the plot and water, nothing more. All of the sand must be utilized in the creation of their artwork. There is no sweeping any leftovers out of the plot or under the mat!
The sand is compressed together in wooden or plastic forms to remove most of the air, the less air, the stronger the bond. After the sculptures are completed, they are sprayed with a diluted mixture of 20 percent environmentally-friendly white wood glue and 80 percent water. This forms a protective barrier on the outside of the sculpture that prevents the wind from blowing away the detail and the birds from damaging the sculptures. The wind screen is not mixed with the sand. It is not intended to hold the sculpture together, only to prevent erosion.
Our sculptors have 30 hours to complete their sculpture. They spend approximately 6 hours on pound up and will have 24 hours to carve over the 4 days.
It is a deterrent from large birds such as seagulls and crows that might otherwise perch on top of the sculptures causing damage.
The sculptors build wooden or plastic forms and stack them on top of each other, like a wedding cake. They remove the forms once the sand has been packed and carve from the top down.
It takes passion, drive, skill, a willingness to learn new things, and a little luck! There are competitions all over the world and if you become good enough, you can compete at one of them or get hired to create sand sculptures for a living. Our competition is for master sculptors only, as the sculptors are hoping for a chance to advance to the World Championships. However, there are other regional competitions, that amateurs can attend. Each year on opening weekend we bring in two professional sculptors to work with the public to teach them the art of sculpting sand.
The judges look for a wide variety of things when judging the work of master sand sculptors. They key elements are: artistic merit, creativity, originality, consistency, accurate proportions, illusion of movement, expressive faces and details. They also consider the general balance of the design along with the use of sand and incorporating the theme. The judges also look at technical difficulty.
There are many factors that determine the life span of one of these amazing creations. Construction, compaction and the overall design play a large part, as does Mother Nature. A well thought out design with excellent compaction and construction could last for months, even in the harshest weather conditions. On the other hand a poorly designed or compacted structure or one that has stretched the limits of the sand itself may not survive for more than a few minutes or hours.
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Master sculptors from all around the world apply to participate in Parksville’s annual competition each year.