The Trouble with Dragons
Captain Cully, Pirate Dachshund
Angela the Huntress
How DOES a Mechanical Engineer get into Sand
In retrospect, every step looks reasonable...
In 1994 Mark entered the contest at Cannon Beach with
little sister Cara and 5 year old nephew Matty.
Promises had been made. There was a team. The team had
a plan. We are talking experienced sand sculptors
here. The reality did NOT measure up. The
(shorthanded) team was still debating theme over
breakfast the morning of the contest. There were not
enough shovels to go around. Onced a pile of sand was
created, everyone except Mark and Cara disappeared.
There were no carving tools. Cara left to check on
Matty. Mark carved the sculpture with his hands and a
Suprisingly, Mark fell for the same line the next
year. If anything, the reality fell further short of
the promise. It turned into an annual thing, With Cara
participating less, promising more and Mark investing
more in tools and equipment. Forms were built, buckets
collected, plans made, friends asked nicely then
begged, wheedled, bullied, cajoled and somehow
pursuaded to participate. Once. Results were mixed but
Sand sculpture is HARD work. Mark routinely plans to
move 15,000 to 18,000 lbs of sand and 7000 lbs of
water (usually in the first half of the first day) at
a 3 day solo contest. After participating in football,
wrestling, bicycle racing and a stellar 17 year career
in martial arts, Mark confirms that these are GAMES
FOR SISSIES compared with solo sand sculpture events
(we are getting ahead of ourselves here but please
bear with us). Friends and family usually cannot be
persuaded to work that hard. People have left the team
grumbling about going back to triathalons because they
are just easier on the body than an hour of dipping
water out of the surf and 2 hours of shovelling.
Then in 1999 Mark connected with a team at work that
was entering Sand in the City (TM) in Portland,
Oregon. With participation in SitC comes lessons. The
lesson is the true start of Mark's career as a Master
Years have been spent refining the techniques that
work for Mark. Often he is asked, "Do you make up your
sculptures on the spot?" The answer is that sculptures
are not so much planned as OBSESSED OVER! Usually
dozens of concept sketches are made. Then a minimum of
4 scale drawings are made beforehand and referred to
constantly throughout the build. Looking at his work,
Mark admits that it is asthetically pleasing but he
has yet to make a sculpture that he likes as well as
the drawing. This is the main source of his
His work is in demand around the USA. Mark stays busy
every summer sculpting at Sand in the City events
nationwide. He has worked in Mexico and entered the
Solo World Championships of Sand in Harrison Hot
Springs, British Columbia. As of Oct 2005 Mark is
booked for 2006 events in Texas, Florida and Belgium.
According to Cara, "My big brother stole my hobby! And
he's better at it than I am!"
Mark still has hope that he will be really good at
sculpting one day. Maybe then he will switch to some
other medium that is a little more permanent (not that
there is any such thing as a permanent sculpture).
Until then, photography (of sand sculpture) is his
only "permanent art".
Mark is eager to share his skills. He teaches lessons
and coaches established teams. He also can do
sculptures for special promotions, parties, weddings
and the like. Big jobs are no problem. Mark has also
developed a clean and tidy method for doing sculptures
indoors with moulding sand (which earned him the
coveted Bert Adams Innovation of 2005 Award). Mark can
even wear a tuxedo when sculpting moulding sand.