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How to make amazing sand castles

Matt Long has created indoor and outdoor sand sculptures of everything from castles and jungle and sea animals to buildings and 7-foot-tall cartoon characters. Here are some of the professional sand sculptor’s tips for making your own sand creation.


— A sand sculptor must learn about sand quality and how it affects a sculpture. Use “clean sand” that is free of stones or shells and has grains that are about the same size. The finest grains of sand will allow for the crispest carving of details.

— Every sculpture begins with a “pound-up.” Make a pound-up using a pile of sand 12 to 18 inches high and approximately 24 inches in diameter. Thoroughly soak it with water and pack it as tight as you can with your hands.

Use forms to create height. You can buy them or create your own using a bucket with the bottom removed. If the bottom is not removed, the bucket will not lift off smoothly. Place the bucket on the base with the narrow end up. Fill it with sand and lots of water, packing it down tightly as you go. Every grain should be wet.

— After the sand has settled, lift the bucket and smooth the sand.

— Place the buckets of sand close together and keep adding to the width and height until you have a block of sand that is the size you want to sculpt. Have an idea of what you want your sculpture to look like before you start.

— Make sure to start at the top and work your way down to the bottom of the structure.

Take your time. “Carve smart, meaning take chances, but use caution,” Long says.


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