Artwork and story by J. Wayne Suggs
Building sandcastles has been an enjoyable part of my life for over thirty years. What began as building indistinctive piles of sand with my sons — Chris and Eric — evolved into what I now call Sand Doodling. Now, instead of using children’s sand toys, the process involves the use of adult size buckets and shovels, plus a unique collection of sand tools. These include small plastic carving devices — specifically designed for sand, a tile float, a very sharp screwdriver, a small baking funnel, a one inch beveled paint brush, several very thin pointed artist’s paint brushes, and a few plastic straws. I refer to the straws as manual pneumatic air and sand moving devices. They work great in moving the small grains of sand away from tightly carved areas. The sharp tipped screwdriver is used for creating exceedingly intricate details, windows, doors, unique designs such as spirals, circles, eyes, waves, and pretty much anything that compliments the design of the day. I have built Sand Doodle Castles on beaches all over the world. Some locations offer brilliant white sand like Aruba and Destin, Florida. Bermuda has white powdery sand with flecks of pink coral blended throughout. The sand on South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach varies from brownish white to dark gray, while on the big island of Hawaii you will find both black and green sand. Prince Edward Island’s Cavendish Beach features red sand, and at Harbor Island Beach in the Bahamas bright pink sand sifting between one’s toes is the norm.
Having said that, LBI sand is one of the most stable and workable sand of any I have experienced! When the base of my structure is packed wet and strong, the LBI sand provides a pallet for transforming the grayish brown, mineral-rich granules into a resilient, striking sculpture that always turns a few heads. The tide of LBI eventually washes over the sculpted Doodle and takes it back out to sea. One may think at that point the Sand Doodle Castle is gone forever. But that is not true for those that make my extremely critical cut. Those lucky few are captured
forever via photography. Ultimately, the best are printed on canvas and carefully painted over with clear and transparent colored glazes, a process that raises the image on the canvas. Once the subtle glazes are applied the printed image is transformed into a unique piece of natural art brought to life. In my mind, this striking sense of solidity and form will last forever.
While most of these images reside in the homes of family and friends, over the years LBI residents and visitors have taken thousands of photos of my Sand Doodle Castles. It warms my heart when beachgoers stop to chat with me,
comment on my unusual designs and take photos for their personal memories. Those returning year-after-year to LBI tell me they always look forward to seeing what I am building. Frequently, they ask my favorite question, “Hey Sandman, what’s it going to be today?” I smile and reply, “Well, it’s already here in the sand, I just have to dig it up.” See you on the Beach!