75 Sand Creations

75 Sand Creations

Since ancient times mankind has drawn in the sand as a means of navigation, territory establishment, religious ritual or just plain creative folly.

These days, drawing or playing in the sand is more than just about creativity- there are also immeasurable health benefits. For starters, a barefoot walk to the tideline really stirs up the lymph nodes, and nearby crashing waves give off an abundance of negative ions to help demolish those nasty free radicals.

Research confirms that playing in the sand is therapeutic on many levels.

‘Sandplay Australia’, for example, is an organization that fosters and promotes holistic counseling lead by a university-recognized ‘sandplay’ therapist and facilitator.

“Often the hands know how to solve a riddle with which the intellect has wrestled in vain,” said Carl Jung, psychologist.

If you can’t get to the beach, some even suggest a portable device to remedy the troubled mind. A tray full of sand should be easy enough to put together. Or, for a boots-and-all approach, jump on line and order a sandtray – you’ll actually find a ‘start-up platinum package’ (with accessories) on Amazon for a princely investment of $300.

Back on the beach front, the art of sand sculpting has become increasingly popular with hundreds of annual competitions now held all over the world.

Our annual event, the ‘New Zealand Sandcastle Competition’ is held at New Brighton and attracts some 20,000 visitors every summer.

Sandcastles become famous too – even entering the Guinness Book of Records.

To promote world peace and raise awareness about the art form, Indian artist Sudarsan Pattnaik got a few students together to build the largest sandcastle ever –- completely by hand. After nine days of gruelling (but healthy) exercise, the spectacular creation reached a record-breaking 15 metres. Let’s see a big beach bully try to kick that one over.

New Zealand’s most recent famous sandcastle was created in the Coromandel last New Year’s eve, when a group of revellers built a sand creation big enough to hold a picnic table and chilly bin. At full tide, they perched amidst ‘international waters’ to escape the region’s liquor ban. Possibly not the most ornate of sand sculptures, but full marks given for creative thinking.

So, for award-winning sand creations, what are the secrets of the professionals?

First essential ingredient is to use fine sand for superior structure and stability. As a rule of thumb, if you can ride a bike over it easily then it should be perfect.

Alongside the standard issue bucket and spade, the seasoned professional will also have a tote bag containing an abundance of dedicated instruments, including the kitchen spatula, spray bottle, spirit level and surgical tubing – to blow away any loose unwanted sand.

Not for the purist, and generally not allowed in competitions, there is always the sneaky option of adding a little glue to the mix. Secret recipe: 10 parts sand, 3 parts water and 1 part PVA glue. This is life-changing knowledge!

The rest is all about practice. For the more dedicated among us, the future may well bring a title such as ‘Captain Sandtastic’ and a trip to Imperial Beach, California, for a healthy shot at the next US Open.