The Art of Sand Castles

They call themselves sand sculptors—artists who build massive structures on the beach for fun and profit, only to watch their work disappear overnight.

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Sandcastle Competitions
Photographer: Michael Hanson

Fierce Camaraderie

For beachgoers, sand-sculpting competitions are a spectacle. For the artists themselves, it's a homecoming. No one knows exactly how many people earn their livings as sand sculptors, but estimates hover around 100 or fewer in the United States. Those artists who carve competitively often intersect during the annual contest circuit.

On South Padre during the annual Sandcastle Days competition, that history is evident: The carvers are a boisterous, affectionate pack, prone to goofing off in public. They say they're living their second childhoods, and in some cases, their first ones.

Left: "Sandy Feet" competes all over the world. She blogs at

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