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sandcastle

There are two schools of thought when it comes to sandcastle-building, that time-honoured beach pastime of molding wet sand into attractive shapes. The first, commonly held by those who enter the world’s sandcastle-building competitions, is that a castle must be a pristine work of architecture, the result of hours of detailed planning and an assortment of building tools schlepped to the beach.

See, this is cool but it also seems like a lot of work.

Then there is the second school of thought – the Bunchland school of thought –  that says, hello, building a sandcastle should be fun. And that means minimal equipment and pre-planning and hours of getting messy and wriggling your toes in the sand.

The thing is that, as with everything, building sandcastles is the most fun if you and your gang can be creative and actually, you know, make something, but without needing tons of stuff or getting fussed when your littlest one demolishes a section of your family’s sandy homage to Mies van der Rohe. Of course, in the interest of just slightly kicking things up a notch, Bunchland is here with a few things you can do to make your castles royally awesome.

Dribble castles

We totally forgot all about this, but we used to spend many happy hours crouched on the beach, using the dribble method to craft freeform, Gaudi-inspired structures that were somewhat lumpy and misshapen but beautiful at the same time. Self-dubbed “sandcastle wizards” Sons of the Beach offer sandcastle-building lessons to families on the beaches of South Padre Island, Texas. They have a tutorial on their website for the “moderated drip” method. It involves digging a hole down to the “water table” so that you always have access to really wet sand, which serves as your “glue.” Then all you need are your hands. And you end up with something like this:

Nifty!

Or with a bit of practice, something like this:

You could totally pull this off.

Willyspheres

While we’re not into the kind of perfection that makes you crazy, there is something neat about perfectly spherical sand shapes, which can be easily achieved with the use of a Willysphere. We saw a video of these little gadgets on Kid Crave and think they look really easy to use.

For a few more no-fail sandcastle-crafting pointers, we brought in the big guns: professional sand sculptor Lucinda a.k.a. “Sandy Feet” of Sons of the Beach. Just for you, here’s her top three tips for crafting the coolest castles:

1. Building a sandcastle requires more water than most might think. Dig a hole by the shore until you reach the water table, and use that super-wet sand to build your castle.

2. Molds like you buy in the souvenir shops are hard to use, because it is difficult to guess the correct ratio of sand and water. Cut the bottom out of a bucket to form a cylinder and fill with wet sand from the top. Excess water will drain, compacting the sand as it goes. Tap the sides of the cylinder to release and slide it up for multiple reusings.
3. A plastic knife makes a great sand smoothing/carving tool, and you can use a plastic spoon to scoop out arched doors, windows and scalloped edges.

Photos by popofatticus via Flickr, Brett Alan Photography, fiddian via Flickr and sandcastlematt via Flickr.

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