Sand sculpture and castle building is undeniably one of the most popular recreational traditions in Virginia Beach. From family pastime to an art form, this time-honored activity offers a medium for creativity and engineering marvel that ultimately brings out the youngun’ in the best of us. With a few simple tips and tricks of the trade at long last revealed (really, they weren’t secrets…), beach builders can raise the bar for durability while also improving the potential for finite details in their master artworks.

The fundamentals are as follows, so get your pens and paper ready; better yet, warm up the printer (an easier option, by far).

Material Consistency – The Building Blocks

In order to create proper building material, you’ll need to begin by mixing your own moist sand. The key here is to add sand to your water bucket, NOT water to your sand bucket; doing so gives the artist maximum control over the density of the construction matter. The goal is to have a mix that keeps some shape yet remains wet enough to be easily manipulated.

Material Compaction – A Blank Slate

Start with a mass of wet sand (see above) that you will pack firmly until it is the overall shape of, and slightly larger than, what you envision your architectural marvel to be. You will carve your dream structure from this compacted mound.

Tools of the Trade – Your Magic Wand

Da Vinci had paints and brushes; the tool chest for your craft will consist of a range of high-tech devices from pastry knives and paint scrapers for precision detailing to paint brushes for more subtle effects. Practically speaking, Popsicle sticks (perfect for larger areas like rooftops and towers) and toothpicks (detailed trim, decorative windowsills, and tiles) are highly-effective tools, and are easily had after the pops and mini-hot dogs are consumed.

Carving – The Artist in You

Professional standards for castle carving dictate that, with surgical precision, you begin your material removal at the top of your creation and work methodically towards the bottom. This will prevent the inevitable filling in that will occur if you go from bottom to top. Rooftops, turrets and spires are obvious starting points.

Taj Mahal or Taj Mafamily – Have a Grand Time

Sand sculpture and castle building is just plain cool!! Jaws agape, the “Oohs” and “Aahs” from impressed passersby is just the icing on the cake when you and yours have constructed such a savvy stroke of sandy brilliance. A sandy beach offers up a most amazing opportunity for creative expression, and best of all, though the cost is no greater than time and energy, the payoff is priceless when in the presence of one’s own masterful creation.