Monday, January 30, 2012


I really really dislike Valentines Day. Even way back when once upon a time long ago when I kinda felt like I was in love with some guy, VD was generally a tense, demanding day that was almost always a disappointment to everyone concerned. Bah humbug.

This year I have been preemptively mitigating the pain by creating "sandy hearts" (a calorie-free alternative to candy hearts) in my lovely back yard. Trying real hard to feel the love. I've been enjoying the process, but I find myself very tempted to make mean, cynical statements with them and am having a hard time restraining myself.

So. In an effort to get the bile out of my system, I have created a series of "anti hearts" that I will now start tossing out into the internets. Feel free to steal: I've learned that my heart is just not worth all that much on the open market.

not "too hot", not "too cool"

I used to be "Mad 4 You" but now I'm just mad

Once upon a time I wanted you to Be Mine but that was then
(X as in "Former")
"Sweet Pea?" I think not
I used to heart U; Now I just stomach U.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sand Castle Days Evolving?

I want to talk today about Sand Castle Days and the Sand Castle Trail. (Please doesn't groan ;)

I recently received an email asking about dates for the 25th annual SCDays. The website has not been updated, so I forwarded the request to Mary K, who wrote back to tell me there was not a date or a location as of yet, but that the event would probably be moved to Sept. due to weather and red tide considerations.

This suggests to me that this event is in for some sea-level changes -- which I think is a good thing, as it opens up opportunities for this festival to evolve into something bold and completely different in 2012:

Who says SCDays can last no longer than a week? Why not start building large sculptures in Sept., and have them finished and viewable all autumn long, leading up to the traditional amateur & Texas State Championship contests in Oct., to take full advantage of 24 years of tradition? And who says all the sculptures have to be in one location? Why not put them all over town (spreading traffic and parking over the whole island and over a month or longer) and let people seek them out and then vote for their favorites online? Why not have the masters do multiple sculptures while they are here (solo, duo and team) and get more bang for our buck? Why not build contest sculptures indoors (at city hall, the convention centre, the visitors center, etc.) when the weather is not cooperative? Why not start even earlier and have weekly amateur events all summer long leading up to the fall festival? With a little "out of the box" thinking, we could take that same $35,000 budget - lasso in some more funds from the larger island properties who will be able to see direct benefits from their contributions - and create something even bigger that will attract and entertain more people than anything we have done before.

(I would encourage interested parties to google ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI - a long-running, very successful contest where different venues host artworks and the public votes for their favorites. There is no reason why this couldn't work as a model for something completely new and different to the world of sand sculpture -- and it could originate right here on SPI!)

This is my area of expertise. I started this event and was fairly instrumental in keeping it going for most of the past 24 years. I have lots of great (and probably some not-so-great ;) ideas as well as the energy and the enthusiasm to help make them happen. But when I wrote the town's activity director and respectfully requested an opportunity to work with the city and share my ideas on how we can make the 25th annual SCDays the best yet, I was told in no uncertain terms that my input and assistance were not needed or wanted.

What if the Sand Castle trail and Sand Castle Days were to work together to extend and grow everything? What if all the people who love sand sculpture and SPI could work together instead of jealously guarding their little territories? Why not really and truly make SPI the Sand Castle Capital of the World?

All I am asking for is a seat at the table and a chance to serve my community by doing what I do best.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

This Castle Needs a Forever Home - updates from the sandcastle trail

And so the plan evolves....

I was betting a lot on that mermaid. I spent a lot of time on her. I took things slow, pouring lots of diluted glue into the form to give her a decent shot at setting up quick enough to foil the vandals. I carved her head, and waited, letting them pick at her and patiently repairing every indignity they bestowed upon her. I fenced her in. I posted a pleading sign - "Thanks for not touching." I pressed tumbled glass into her tail to make it sparkle in the sunlight. After she was finished, I sprayed her good -- and almost as soon as I walked away, they took her out. 
Destruction was pretty much complete.

It kinda sorta felt like murder. I grieved. 
And then I pondered...

I had done everything I could think of - short of posting a guard 24/7 - to keep this sculpture around long enough to develop the protective shell she needed to get called “semi-permanent” -- and it wasn’t enough. Is it time to give up on my idea of a Sand Castle Trail for South Padre Island? 

Nope. Not yet. Because I have experienced just enough success to convince me that there is a way to do this!

Here is what I Have Learned:

  1. The sculptures that have lasted have been the ones built in yards, tucked into landscaped corners, and created in a park that hardly anyone knows about or visits (the SPI Butterfly Garden.)
  2. After a month or two of curing, the sculptures become so hardened that they will stand up to a fair amount of abuse. 
  3. High-traffic areas on public property are just not good sites for these sculptures. More people get to see them in such areas, sure. But the terrorists are too numerous, too thoughtless, too darned mean.
  4. Private, commercial and/or off-the-beaten-path locations are better. Make people seek them out. Make 'em look at the site, print up the map. Make them think twice about destroying private property.


To give the sculptures their best chance, they must be protected while they are curing. 
They will cure faster if they are smaller. 
They will be molested less if they are on private property.
I can best protect them while they cure if they are located in my fenced-in back yard. 
If I am going to have to move them, they have to be light-weight and either relatively small or modular so that they can be reassembled in their final resting spots.

This Castle Needs a Home!
Voila! A prototype! This castle stands about 21 inches tall. It has a styrofoam core to reduce its weight -- I am pegging it somewhere between 10 and 20 pounds. When it has throughly dried and hardened, it can safely (I hope believe!) be moved to some sort of pedestal or perhaps it can become part of a larger castle to be installed in some sort of semi-private or commercial location -- which will become the next stop on the SandCastle Trail

(The pedestal could be just about anything -- a piece of wood, a rock, a planter -- or it could be made of sand, with a name or whatever carved into it.)

So all I need now is a good place to put this little castle -- and that is where you come in. I am going to give this sculpture away to a good home. If you can suggest “the perfect spot” for this castle, please do so - ASAP. I will take all suggestions into consideration and -- once the castle becomes solid enough to move (which could be in just a week or two thanks to the sunshine and hard, dry wind we are currently experiencing) -- I will install it in its new location and we will see how it fares. Deal?

Please send a description and - if possible - a photo of a good spot for this castle to at the earliest opportunity -- thanks!