Artists in sand gear up for competition

By LISA STARK

The Old Woman and the Shoe during construction in front of the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island. Lisa Stark photos.

The Old Woman and the Shoe during construction in front of the Bilmar Beach Resort in Treasure Island. Lisa Stark photos.

For the last 14 years, Sanding Ovations has created a sand sculpture on Treasure Island Beach, commissioned by the Bilmar Beach Resort.  This year’s sculpture, called The Old Woman and the Shoe, was fashioned by Dan Doubleday and Meredith Corson-Doubleday, who have been sculpting sand for over 50 years combined.  The couple holds three World Champion Gold medals and have appeared on the Travel Channel’s “Sand Blasters.” They travel the world creating sand sculptures for hundreds of clients each year.

The Old Woman and the Shoe took about 200 hours to complete and was sculpted from 20 tons of coral sand shipped in from Miami. Miami’s sand has the qualities that allow the creation of the more difficult sculptures. The Old Woman and the Shoe will not be a permanent structure  even though an Elmer’s Glue solution was sprayed on the finished product and it was baked in with the sun, slowing down the erosion process. It is sadly inevitable that The Old Woman and the Shoe will naturally erode away in about three to four months.

Sand sculptors are known for creating unique sculptures in a variety of sand sculpting festivals and competitions throughout Florida, as well as for weddings, engagement proposals, corporate events and fairs. The sculptors use only sand and water; no cement or fixatives are mixed in. The sand is compacted into wood forms, which are then removed as the sculpture is carved from the top down. A variety of tools are used in the carving process: Trowels, spreaders, cake decorator spatulas, even dental instruments for intricate areas.

Sanding Ovations is Treasure Island’s annual Master’s Cup Sand Sculpting Competition.

Sanding Ovations is Treasure Island’s annual Master’s Cup Sand Sculpting Competition.

Treasure Island’s Sanding Ovations Master’s Cup Sand Sculpting Competition, a four-day competition of sculpting masters from around the world, is typically held the third week of November. The finished sculptures are kept on display for several months after the event, and are illuminated at night to create a spectacular visual feast for vacationers and locals alike.

Sand sculptures attract media attention to events throughout Florida, and many have been featured in USA Today and the CNN Travel Channel.  Sand sculptors earn the title of “Master Sand Sculptor” by first winning amateur competitions, which then qualifies them to compete at the master level. There are approximately 75 “Master Sculptors” in the United States today.

This spring, sand sculpture fans will flock to the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival, to be held April 15 through 24 in Clearwater.  The Sugar Sand Festival is a 10-day beach celebration consisting of a variety of activities for all ages, including street performers, artisans and crafters, live entertainment, fireworks, plus sand-sculpting classes and demonstrations.

The Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit features a 21,000-square-foot tent filled with sand-sculpted art crafted by international artists. Team Sandtastic (a team of 10 master sand sculptors) has been the host for the event since the founding of the Festival over a decade ago. It takes nine days for the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival exhibit to be built, using 1,000 tons of sand. The sculptors remain on site throughout the festival, teaching sand-sculpting workshops and participating in sculpting competitions for cash prizes.

dragonsOther sand sculpting events of interest include the Siesta Key Amateur Contest, which is held the second weekend in May; the annual American Sand Sculpting Championships to be held in Fort Myers in November (now in its 30th year); The Siesta Key Crystal Classic held in November; and the annual Lake Worth Beach Sand Sculpting & Seafood Festival, to name a few.

For more information on sand sculpting events in Florida, visit www.sandsculptingevents.com.

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