A Sandcastle Education From a Master

“This makes every vacation after this one better,” said Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga as she prepared to carve up the sand mound she had just molded at beach access #16 on South Padre Island. She was conducting a sandcastle building lesson, and it was about time to get dirty.

You can’t really argue with her point of view- the skill of making an ornate sand castle was already paying dividends. Passersby commented on how pretty the creation was, even long before it was finished, and besides, it was a whole lot of fun.

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Most untrained builders of sandcastles probably just freestyle the building process, maybe filling a castle mold and plopping that on the beach, with perhaps a moat around their structure. Lucinda, who is a published author and has been an expert at building sandcastles since the 1980s, runs Sandy Feet Sandcastle Services and has a simple, refined process to make a great looking castle with ease.

She starts by digging a hole not far away from the water line, keeping mindful of tides and getting down to where the sand is wet. Using a bucket with the bottom taken out, she creates the structure by piling more and more super saturated sand on top of the sandy cylinder.

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The loose form is now ready to be carved into something beautiful, using custom pastry knives that Lucinda created.  Staircases, windows, undercuts and other detail features are added, all while she explains exactly how to craft these embellishes. It’s easy enough for a child to understand, but a difficult art to master.

South Padre Island is known as a fine place to build sandcastles, with fine, flat-grained Gulf coast sand that contains an ideal mix of silt and clay to hold intricate sculptures together. The island also hosts Sandcastle Days every October, which is a qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting. (And of which Lucinda co-founded.)

In addition to one-hour family and group sandcastle lessons, Lucinda also creates beach billboards for marriage proposals, birthdays, and other memorable occasions.

“I just leave a trail of sand wherever I go,” she said with a smile, earning her Sandy Feet nickname.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .

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