Yorkshire sand sculptor Jamie Wardley explains how to build the perfect sandcastle

PUBLISHED: 00:05 14 June 2013

Sand sculptor Jamie Wardley creates Charles Darwin in his home town of Bradford

Sand sculptor Jamie Wardley creates Charles Darwin in his home town of Bradford

(C)2009, Roger Moody, all rights reserved

It all starts with a shovel. Throw in four big buckets, spoons of different sizes, a plastic knife, a 30cm ruler and a kitchen spatula and you’re good to go.

So now you’re on the beach, you have your tools at the ready and you’re keen to get building. First, however, you’ve got to get the foundations right so your creation doesn’t fall down (at least until the tide comes in).

The key is lots of water – something in ready supply on the Yorkshire coast. You need to use as much water as possible because your castle will fall down if the sand is too dry.

If the sea is too far away to collect water by hand (or, rather, by bucket), which can often be the case in Filey Bay where the sea almost disappears over the horizon, then dig a hole below the high tide mark and it will conveniently fill with water for you.

Now it’s time to make a volcano (bear with me; this will all make sense very soon). You need to make a volcano shape to start with so that when you pour the water on it goes through the sand rather than down the side.

To make your volcano, flatten the top of a pile of sand and create a rim. Then pour in loads of water so it becomes like a paddling pool and pat the sand while it’s still wet. When the water’s gone, the sand will be very hard.

If you have a big pile then make a terrace lower down and fill it with water and compact it with your hands or your trusty shovel. This can later be used as a wall to strengthen your castle even further.

To make buildings around your castle, you need to make a smaller volcano. For towers, get a bucket of sand and pour in water so that it’s above the level of the sand. Then begin to make mud pies (go on, you know you want to) on top of each other, asking a friend to hold the shape while you gently pat it.

But be warned; too much patting is not a good thing. Once your mound is dry, stop patting or it’ll break.

If you make two towers side by side and want to take it to the next level, place your hand in between and put sand on the top to create an arch.

When it comes to carving out the detail, always carve from the top down to avoid getting sand over your finished work.

With delicate pieces, such as a tower, support the sand with one hand and carve the shape with your ruler.

The spoon and knife – you thought I’d forgotten about them, didn’t you? – can be used to make windows.

To make your castle look massive, make as many walls as you can. Make castellations by putting very wet sand on the back of your shovel and patting it, adding a little extra dry sand to help it harden. Then cut out squares with your ruler and place the castellations on top.

You can add even more interest by making trees by dripping wet sand in a pile and moulding it; digging a moat to stop a neighbouring family invading; or decorating every available surface with seaweed and shells. And, for a Grand Designs-style flourish, you can even create a staircase – it’s undoubtedly tricky, but not impossible with the use of your ruler and a steady hand.

Finally, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. You’re having a day at the beach, so take time to kick back and watch the world go by (while casting admiring glances at your palatial sandcastle).

Bradford-born Jamie Wardley runs Sand In Your Eye, creating sand and ice sculptures commercially as well as for exhibitions and competitions around the world. For more information, visit sandsculptureice.co.uk.

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