Less than inspired by your last sandcastle masterpiece?
Flickr: ian boyd
Flickr: ian boyd

It always seems so easy yet never quite works out to plan. You fill your bucket with sand, fish out the pebbles, add some seawater and tip it over…

… then pray.

With minimal tools required; sand, water, bucket and perhaps a spade (but let’s face it, we usually toss that to the side), you’d think making at least a half decent sandcastle wouldn’t be so difficult.

It’s meant to be child’s play.

But there are a few secrets to building the perfect sandcastle that you may have missed on your last trip to the seaside.

This summer, you’ll be prepared. Your sandcastle will wash away the competition on the beach.

Flickr: ekai
Flickr: ekai
The Ingredients

Water + Sand

You might usually add sand to a bucket and then top it up with water, but it’s better to do it the other way around. Start with a bucket with a small amount of water at the bottom and then carefully build up the texture of your sand by adding in a handful at a time.

Not only will you have more control of how moist your sand is, you’ll also be able to pick out any stones, shells or seaweed that are often the downfall of otherwise great castles.

And whilst you want it to be wet enough to manipulate, you won’t want it to be so wet that it doesn’t hold shape. A paste-like consistency is best for the base structure.

Flickr: Jeroen Kransen
Flickr: Jeroen Kransen
The Foundations

The easy bit.

Mix a few buckets of sand paste and pile it all up into a mound. Remember not to make it too high (unless you happen to have a step ladder with you), as you’ll need to be able to reach up and carve your castle out with precision.

If you make it too high and haven’t got a way of reaching the top, you’ll end up tip-toeing precariously over your castle and the last thing you want is to fall on top of it whilst adding the finishing touches.

The Tools

Get creative.

There are a whole range of tools you could use to create the perfect sandcastle. It all depends on how much detail you want to add.

Some professionals may use anything from toothpicks and forks to paintbrushes, trowels and knives for both the small details and for creating textures.

Flickr: vpickering
Flickr: vpickering

It really all depends on what look you’re going for.

You don’t even have to be building a castle. It could be a sanddog or a sandangel or whatever.

And it’s always nice to add some decoration. Before you begin, collect up some shells, ring pulls, small pebbles, broken glass, seaweed and anything else you might happen to find along the beach.

Carving the Details

Now the fun begins.

It’s best to start your carving at the top, that way you won’t need to worry about messing anything up with falling bits of sand.

You could copy the details of a real life castle or you could make it all up as you go along, using your tools in creative new ways to give your sandcastle a detailed look.

Use old lollipop sticks or toothpicks to create fine lines and dots and you can mix up small portions of sand paste for the extra details, adding depth and character.

You could even add some tea-lights to give your castle that magical look.

Flickr: KerriNikolePhotography
Flickr: KerriNikolePhotography
Time for the Tide

Don’t get attached.

If you’ve built your sandcastle in a good spot it could last for days. But even with good weather, low tide and a great foundation, you’ll always find that someone couldn’t resist touching it.

But that’s ok.

Make sure you bring your camera so that you can capture an image of your masterpiece before it gets swept back into the sea and is gone forever.

 

Flickr: williamcho
Flickr: williamcho