Here’s how those elaborate sand sculptures get made

Sand sculpting is not for the faint of heart. Forget sandcastles, this is a true art form and takes skill and a steady hand!

If you’ve been in West Palm Beach during the holiday season, you’ve probably seen Sandi — the world’s only 35 foot 700-ton holiday tree made out of sand! Another major sand sculpture is also on display at the South Florida Fair in the Expo Center each year. If you’ve ever wondered how these sand sculptures come to be, we found the answers.

We caught up with Dean Arscott of Sandtastic as he was working on a sand sculpture at the South Florida Fair. He said he’s been working in the sand sculpting industry for about nine years.

“I did go to art school and I had done some sculpture before,” he said.

According to Arscott, compacting the sand into a workable medium is pretty easy.

“Rough it up, just like in art class in school, score and slip,” he said. “Take some water, and just jump right back in and carve.”

The tricky part comes when you have to actually start making your sand LOOK like something.

“Detail is the hardest, probably the eyes, he said. “It’s all about creating shadows. So it’s not just a hole straight in, it’s a hole that’s been hollowed out with a sphere inside it so it creates the darkest shadow.”

Arscott said most people are surprised when they learn how much physical labor goes into creating the masterpieces like the Sandi Tree and the South Florida Fair display.

“This is four dump tracks full of sand,” he said, gesturing at the mound of superhero sculpting behind him. “We have a full day of shoveling and compacting, so that we can start roughing out something and get into a more detailed thing so it’s a lot of hard labor before we get to play in the sand.”

For smaller sculptures and indoor table top displays, Arscott said the sculptures usually hold up just fine. But for massive outdoor creations like the Sandi Tree, there are a few things the sculptors can do to help it withstand the elements.

“When it’s all said and done, we will spray a very diluted sealer on it but it only holds it together as much as the paint on your house holds your house together,” he said. “Getting it wet and compacting as hard as possible is what really holds it together. It’s just like when you’re flipping buckets as a kid, just a lot bigger.”