Building sand castles can be great fun for all the family. There is no right or wrong way so long as you all have fun, but, if you’ve ever been disappointed by one or two meager lumps on the beach that crumble away after about 5 minutes then chances are that you can do with some sand castle building tips. To build a good sand castle you need to find sand that is moist enough to stick together and dry enough to maintain form.
Usually, this will be found near the high-water line, and is at its best just after the tide has begun to move out. Give yourself time to make your creation. Again just after the tide has started to move out is a good time to start since there may be hours to build plus some time left for your castle to remain and be admired. Start by making a pile about a 12 to 18 inches high (how long and wide it is will depend on what you want the final structure to look like). This sand needs to be compacted.
You can “softpack” the sand and pat the moist sand into a mound with just your hand; or you can “handstack” the sand in a tower and let gravity and water do its job. For a simple two level tower, after the patty has been gently leveled and patted into shape – well compacted – make a new, slightly smaller patty on top of the one just finished. You can sculpture detail onto your castle from the top down using the edge of a shovel to “carve” down the rest of the side of the tower, and to form the walls of your castle.
You may find a variety of tools aid your creation – from shovels and flat BBQ-scrapers, to pencils and lolly-sticks, pastry knives – depending what you plan to carve out of the castle design. And of course buckets to carry your water. If you try and work from the bottom up using a bucket or other form your creation wont take shape very well and you certainly wont achieve those large sand sculptures. Working down makes it easier to create multiple levels, make additional mounds and exercise creativity.
Don’t forget to add walls to connect your towers. Using both hands, scoop up as much wet sand as you can hold, gently press your hands together to squeeze out excess water and place the resulting sand clump where it’s needed to create your wall. High walls need to be thick at the base and should narrow as they rise higher. You can make arches by gently tunneling through a wall at the base. Ramps are also modified walls. Steep ramps can be shaped into staircases and gently sloping ramps become walkways.
Steps are easily “carved” into a ramp’s surface by using a straight edge tool to remove excess sand. Use rocks, seaweed and other objects for decorating or embellishing the finished project, but they will stop the sand sticking together and holding its shape. Spray bottles can aid in keeping the structure wet and damp while you work on it. Don’t forget that having fun is one of the most important tips in creating good sand castles – at least ones that you want to remember! And don’t forget to take your family photo when done.