We fabricated the steel structure for the castle on a plywood template to ensure accuracy. We later gave the CNCcut plywood to our customer to build the concrete base. This ensured a good fit on assembly at the site.
A subframe of ¼-in. pencil rod was welded to the structural steel then galvanized lath was tied to this framework. Sculpting the fiberglass-reinforced concrete came next. It took three long days to sculpt the top section of the castle. We used a bonding agent on the cold joints to ensure a good bond between the sections. We also used a coarser sand than usual so it would look more like a sandcastle once it was painted.
Each section of the sandcastle was built on ½-in.-thick plasma cut steel. This ensured the pieces could be bolted together without worry of flexing, which would crack our concrete. Lifting points were built into every piece. On the sandcastle roofs the eye bolts would turn out and colorful powder coated flags would screw in when we were done.
The scale of the sand bucket and shovel are readily apparent as Jenessa sculpts the fine detail into the giant shovel. The height of our shop door determined the final size. This piece squeaked out with a fraction of an inch to spare—as planned of course.
The moment of truth for every project we do is when we hook the crane to our pieces and lift them off the ground. The location of the lift points is determined by an educated guess, back when we are welding the structural steel. This piece lifted perfectly in balance. Whew!
Even with a setback for inclement weather we beat our deadline by more than two weeks, which made our customer very happy! As the first guests were let in, they lined up for a selfie by the giant bucket and sandcastle. And as predicted, they posted the pics to their social media pages, advertising our client’s park in the process. Mission accomplished!

Help your clients get free social media marketing

By Dan Sawatzky

Posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

One of the most fun aspects of our business is that we never know what the next project may be. The only certain thing is that we can always count on it being something crazy that will tax our creative and problem-solving abilities. Building a sandcastle that towered more than 24-ft. tall was this year’s challenge.

One of our favorite clients approached us last fall and asked us to create a new entrance icon for his water park. It had to be something that would make everyone stop for a selfie as they came into his facility for some fun. We’ve been itching to do a project for this park for more than fifteen years. This was the perfect opportunity to open the door to a lot more projects in the future.

This new sign would be a part of a replacement for an aging play structure for younger guests of the water park. It had to include slides for toddlers and was to sit in the center of a shallow pool. We suggested a giant sandcastle, complete with an oversized shovel and bucket, that could prove to be a natural photo op. He loved the idea and asked for some concept art.


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Dan Sawatzky

Dan Sawatzky's shop, Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation, is in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Dan shares his experience in his Sign Magic Workshops on 3-D sign making, and his Sculpting Workshop.