March 27, 2023
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Super-Sized Sand Sculptures, presented by Visit New Jersey, have arrived at Adventure Aquarium!
While sand sculptures are always jaw-some to look at, it’s even more impressive knowing the time and effort that goes into creating these larger-than-life pieces from start to finish.
The sculptures here in Camden are the product of sand sculptor Matt Long and his team of artists, who have transformed tons of sand into five incredible works of art representing the fantastic aquatic creatures that call the Aquarium home.
Matt started sculpting in Cape May in the late 90s, with his first paid job in 2001 for Nike. There are few New Jersey beaches where he hasn’t carved sand and runs local sculpting contests in the state. He has carved sand worldwide, and few beaches have been as beautiful as those in New Jersey.
While sand sculpting takes years to master, Matt has shared some beginner tips to improve your sand carving skills this shore season.
1. SELECT YOUR SAND
The best sand for sculpting is dense with minimal, if any, pebbles, stones, or other foreign materials. Most beaches in New Jersey have pretty good sand for carving! My favorite local beach is Wildwood Crest.
The sand for the sculptures we created here in Camden was sourced from a nearby quarry in Vineland, N.J.
There are rules of physics involved with sand sculpting!
People are used to sand being soft and powdery underfoot at the beach, a texture that is certainly not conducive to carving. Sand for sculpting is prepped by compacting the sand with water, and only water, in 'forms,’ which are boxes or cylinders filled with sand. Add water as you go, pounding the mixture into a solid block.
It can be grueling at times, but preparation is key if you want a nice block of sand to work with.
3. USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Matt designed Can You Dig It Sand Tools while having fun with his daughters at the beach. They are now available on Amazon! He also uses various modified masonry tools, palette knives, cake icing tools, and a few brushes for special effects.
4. BE PATIENT
Patience is key when sand sculpting. Be gentle and carve away only little bits of sand at a time. If you take too much at once, you risk your entire piece collapsing. Plus, you can’t put back what you take away.
Depending on the size of your sculpture, it can take an afternoon or several weeks to finish the final sculpture. Getting up and down can be physically demanding, so stretch and take breaks while creating your masterpiece.
6. ADD THE FINISHING TOUCHES
Once you’re done carving, spray the sculptures with a mixture of water-based wood or school glue using a garden sprayer, forming something akin to an M&M shell. This coating will prevent the wind and sun from drying the sand out and becoming powdery again.
With a good enough coating of fixative on a sculpture, it can remain pretty much unscathed by the elements for almost an entire year.
Come see these unique sand sculptures in person!
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