Tag: Revere Beach

Sand Sculpting Ethics 101

Sand Sculpting Ethics 101

When I was first introduced to the world of professional sand sculpting, I marveled at the level of comradery and cooperation I witnessed. There is a wonderful vibe that surrounds you when in the company of such talented artists. For years I believed that the sand sculpting business was somehow immune to the trappings of cut throat practices. Unfortunately, I would soon learn first hand that, while a majority of sand sculptors have exemplary business practices, there are those in the business that make us all look bad.

In any business there are certain ethical standards that must be followed in order to advance the industry as a whole. Those that disregard these practices, may at first glance appear to be unaffected by their actions. Some might even refer to themselves as shrewd business men. I can assure you shrewd is not the word I would use to describe them.

So here they are, the top 5 reasons ( in no particular order)  that you might want to take an ethics class.

  1. You charge your clients $$$$ for additional sand sculptors but you only pay those sculptors $.
  2. You consider drinking and or smoking on the job part of your “artistic license”.
  3. Your idea of business marketing is to check  out your competition’s website calender of events and  then call all their clients.
  4. You’ve actually yelled at a competitor’s client for not hiring you.
  5. You market yourself at a fellow sand sculptors event, saying you could do a better job for less.

I’m sure there are many more  reasons you might need an ethics corse. I would love to hear any personal experiences from other sand sculptors. Please omit any names. The purpose of this blog post is to raise awareness, not to vilify any particular group or individual.

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What makes sand sculptures stay together

What makes sand sculptures stay together

 One of the most frequent questions any  sand sculptor hears is “what makes the sand stay together?” Without going into a lengthy discussion on the laws of physics, surface tension and micro gravitational forces, I will attempt to answer this question. But wait, this is a blog, so lengthy discussion it will be. For the sake of simplify this conversation all my references will focus around just a few grains of sand.

 First off  all sand is not created equally. When magnified the differences  are as obvious as apples and oranges.  Depending on your location the sand may consist of pure quartz crystal, a mix of several different minerals, seashells and organic matter, volcanic ash or even crushed coral. How well the sand will stick together is directly related to the size and shape of the individual grains. NASA scientists have done extensive studies on sand cohesion in an effort to see how different soils react during seismic activity. I won’t go into all the details here but if you want to read more on the test summary can be found here. The University of Chicago also has some great information. Go head, check these articles out than come back and finish reading the rest of this post.

Ok you’re back. If your head doesn’t hurt too much from all the technical descriptions and scientific awesomeness, I’ll get on with my description. Basically all sand ever wants to be is beach. Along comes a child, or in the case of professional sand sculptors over grown children, and decides to stack the sand into a castle or other amazing structure. To do this the sand is piled high, water is added and the sand is compacted either in a bucket, form or simply by hand. Now lets look at those few grains of sand I mentioned earlier. When water is added to the sand, something really cool happens, a tiny bridge is formed between the two grains. If the grains are uniform and have large surface areas similar to bricks, the bridge will be relatively large in comparison to the grains, pushing  most of the air away from the sand.  On the other hand if the grains are rounded or have irregular surfaces the contact point of the bridge will be smaller, trapping more air between the grains. In both examples the  sand will stay together. The question is, how strong the structure will be, and how it will react to certain environmental conditions, gravitational forces etc. Square  shape grains that resembles bricks  can actually be stacked quite easily even with very small amounts of water. The lack of air also slows down the evaporation process of the liquid bridges between the grains.  Round or irregular shape grains have smaller contact points between the grans and trap more are. This speeds up the eveporation process and thus weakens the oveall structure.

The easiest way to test   the sand in your area is to take a baseball size clump of wet sand in your hand and press it into a snowball shape. Toss the ball gently at first between your hands. If the ball holds its shape, chances are you have found the perfect source for creating a wonderful sand sculpture.

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