No paints, brushes, metals, or chemicals are used in the making of Greg Glenn's art.
Just sand and water.
Sand sculpting started out as a hobby for Glenn, who grew up in Huntingdon Beach, Calif. Originally planning to be an engineer, Glenn and his wife, Brandi, began entering competitions, but never thought the "hobby" would turn into their source of income. But business took off in 1987, and they've been full-time sand sculptors ever since.
"After a few years it just got big," he said. "I'm continuously creating new sculptures. Yesterday I was in Colorado, now I'm back up in [California] to do another project."
The sand is densely compacted with water and pressure, and Glenn uses simple materials like buckets, spatulas and his own hands to transform sand into giraffes, fish, dinosaurs and life-size sandcastles. The smaller sculptures can be completed in four hours, but Glenn said he can spend up to 10 hours on a project.
Sandscapes creates a sandy Egypt. (Courtesy of © Sandscapes 2012)
The summer season is nonstop for Sandscapes, the company of professionals Glenn is involved with who are hired for special events across the world. With over 1,000 projects completed, Sandscapes currently holds 12 World Sand Sculpture Championship titles.
"We can go for months without days off, not including travel time," Glenn said. "It's just the way it is."
It's a job that keeps his team glued to the weather forecast. With bad weather unavoidable, Glenn said they have learned to design the sculptures so that water drains off them more quickly.
During severe storms, Glenn will drape the art with plastic or spray with a special sealer, which, he admits, "is not the best insurance."
"We've done projects across the U.S., Asia, Australia and Tasmania, so we do see a bit of bad weather," he said. "We always have an eye to the sky."
Glenn and his team average 30 to 40 projects a year, and admits being approached to do a reality show.
"They knew I traveled with my wife, and they asked if we were often contentious," he laughed. "When I told them no, they asked, 'Could you pretend to be?' It's not my cup of tea."
Major annual sand art competitions are now held in 12 countries, some of which feature different themes for each festival. Sandscapes is hired by fairs, festivals, shopping centers and trade shows to display its art. If the sculptures are completed indoors, Glenn said a sculpture can last indefinitely, but by this point he's realized that his outdoor art projects have an expiration date.
"Sand is sand and things happen," he said. "You have to not get too attached to it."
Above, viewers walk through a life-size sandcastle made by Sandscapes. Below, Alice in Wonderland is recreated. (Courtesy of © Sandscapes 2012)