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  • Generate ideas through brainstorm sessions

  • Develop ideas using drawings and clay (Sculpy)
  • Use themes and animation to connect the elements and bring the idea to life.
  • Consider Judging Criteria
    • Telling the Story = Theme
    • Overall Design & Use of Plot
    • Technical Difficulty (Height/Undercuts)       


Form Types

  • Wood forms (3/4” plywood, 2x4 supports, & corrugated plastic
  • Pool forms (former shell of a swimming pool, secured with V and C clamps)
  • RAD forms (double layer of Roofing Felt secured with clamps and duck tape)
  • PVC forms (small towers)
  • Make-shift Forms (bottomless buckets/garbage cans, etc.)
  • Volcano (hand pack / berming)

Form Tips

  • Good form design is essential – keep it simple
  • Make sure the shape fits the element (less wasted pound-up)
  • Sand volume is calculated by what fills the forms not what remains
  • Consider a combination of forms
  • Avoid going vertical (Collapses are common for anything over 2.5’) 
  • Stack forms like a pyramid (height of each form should never be more than 2 feet and the inside of one form should never be closer than six inches from the inside of the form below it)
  • Make disassembly easy
  • Consider a reuse plan (will it hold up for 2 practices plus the event?  Many teams reuse for 2-4 years)



  •  A Hard Pack = Sand + Water + Compaction
  • Prep Tools: Sand Forms, Gloves, Double Headed Nails (for wood forms), Corrugated Plastic (Wood forms), Clamps (for round forms), Duct Tape, Measuring Tape, Hammers, Crow/Flat Bar, Buckets with bottoms, Buckets without bottoms, Mallet (to get buckets apart), Cordless drill (optional), Shovels (Flat and Spade – all with long handles to prevent back injury),  “Pounders” (Soil Tamper or home made by welding a weight onto a 1” pipe), wheelbarrow (optional), and a Level (if the bottom form is not level, the entire sculpture will be tilted), Rolling garbage can (optional – great for shovel/rake storage)
  • Stirring and mixing
    • Sand and water needs to be mixed very evenly
    • A dry spot or a wet mess will not be carve-able
    • Add sand and THEN water
    • Use shovels, rakes, and hands
    • Designate one form-boss per form stack who will oversee the mixture
  • Sand Water Ratio
    • Feel the sand – make a Sand-ball then toss it 6”in the air
    • Listen for the “THUD” sound when pounding
    • When water rises while pounding you have TOO much water - add a sand layer to soak it up or remix the layer with rakes
    • Practice


  • To avoid cracks, do not shake or bump forms to loosen (except buckets these always seem to need a tap or two)
  • Use crow bar to carefully remove nails from forms then separate forms by gently pulling up and away


  • Tools: Trowels, small shovels, custom tools, small tools, Paintbrush, Straws
  • Carve from Top to Bottom (mostly so you don’t drop sand on what you’ve finished but also for stability)
  • Remove forms as you carve from top down
  • Find your proportions / shapes first using large tools then move down to the smaller tools for details
  • Refer to your drawings, clay model, and step back frequently to check your perspective
  • Practice, Practice, Practice!


  • Outies (pop out of the sand)
  • Innies (carved into the sand
  • Use paper stencil to poke an outline


  • Mark your tools so they may be returned to you or at least your team when lost (water resistant tape, paint, and/or Sharpies)
  • Prevent rust before it starts and let your tools dry after each use


  • No props allowed
  • No additives may added to the sand (glitter, paint, etc)
  • A glue-preserve is authorized and distributed via sand hosts due to weather/wind (provide your own sprayer for this)


  • No one person should do too much
  • Use caution – and practice safety first
  • No bare feet allowed during pound-up.  Team members who don’t comply may be removed from the plot until the pound-up and form removal is complete.
  • Avoid blisters by wearing gloves during pound-up
  • Drink Lots of Water
  • Team Captains and architects should lead by example


  • Plan your day out ahead of time – who does what, when
  • Bring your sketches and models to the square for reference and the public viewers
  • Master Sculptors will be available for tips and limited assistance
  • Have Fun, Play Safe