It took one sand-sculpting lesson in 1999 to change Mark Landrum’s life. After that moment, he dedicated months to refining his new-found craft – transforming wet slabs of ash-colored sand into momentary masterpieces. He eventually got so good that he began traveling with the national sand-sculpting team, Sand in the City.
The former accountant traded his adding machine for a big bucket and what Landrum calls the best sand-carving tools – plastic forks, knives and spoons – and today he is known as the Port Aransas Sandcastle Guy. He earns a better living on Port Aransas and Padre Island beaches teaching people of all ages how to construct impressive sandcastles, than he did in his number-crunching days.
Landrum’s sandcastles can reach up to five-and-a-half feet tall, mainly because of Texas’ unique sand, which has a high clay content.
“Our sand here along the Texas shore is better than anywhere in the world for stacking sand,” Landrum says. “We can stack it taller than anybody.”
Landrum and his students hand-build towering stacks, called “spikes,” by continually plopping one wet sand pancake on top of another. Spikes are then shaved and carved into whatever the sand artist has in mind.