Frequently asked questions
How is it prepared?
We begin with wooden forms that come in sections, these are put together, and act in the same way as a cake tin. Then we add sand and water (no secret ingredient) in small layers and compact with mechanical wackers. In this way we are forcing the sand so tight together it’s almost like sandstone. These boxes are stacked on top of each other forming a pyramid structure. From this point we remove the wooden sections revealing a block of solid sand from which we carve. The lower forms are left on to act as scaffolding as we work down from top to bottom.
What happens when it rains?
Very little actually. The compacted sand is quite resilient to rain and, as its porous it permits the water to run through the sculpture and out the bottom. Extremely heavy rain will do some surface damage, but a little light rain actually helps to stop the sands surface from drying and blowing away.
Is anything added ?
While we’re carving the sculpture we spray it with water to keep it workable. Then when we are finished we spray on a dilute water glue solution. It does very little to the overall stability of the piece but acts like a hairspray and prevents the surface details from blowing away.
Is it special sand?
We use normal builders sand, also known as ‘mortar’ sand. Unlike beach sand, which has round grains, this sand is diamond shaped and therefore locks together better. It also has about a 10% silt content which helps bind the sand and holds in the moisture better. Occasionally when hot enough it even bakes and hardens in the sun.
Do you make a living from this?
Yes, we are professionals and travel around the world creating ephemeral sculptures for people. Then during the winter time we change to Ice and Snow. In fact we have just finished Irelands 1st purpose built Ice sculpture studio, and are now creating bespoke ice sculptures here in Ireland.
Where can we see more of your work?
We upload photos of our finished pieces onto both our website www.duthain-dealbh.com and we also have a Facebook page: Irish Sand Sculpture.