about John Gowdy

Q. Is that made of just sand?

A. This is probably the most asked question. The answer is yes. I work with damp sand that has been compressed into a material much like a soft sand stone.

Q. Does the temporary nature of sand sculpture bother you?

A. Not really. Sand Sculpture is more of a performance art than a fine art. People love to watch you sculpt - actually more than looking at the finished product. We do take pictures when we are done. If I really like a certain sand sculpture, I will carve it in marble. What is permanent about sand sculpture is the lessons learned. Every sculpture is practice and with more practice you will improve.

Q. How do you compact it?

A. We use plywood or plastic "forms." These forms hold the sand while we compact it with tampers. The forms are then removed.

Q. How so you carve it way up there without destroying the detail down low?

A. We stack the forms one on top of another until the required height is reached. We then start carving at the top while we use the lower forms as scaffolding. We will remove forms from the top down until the entire sculpute is completed.

Q. Where did you learn to do that?

A. Believe it or not, I began scultping sand onthe beach in Atlantic city around 1985. This is when I first began to bring my twin daughters Kelli and Jennifer to the beach. Though I spent my entire childhood and most of my adulthood on the beach, I never actually carved the sand. I started by digging a sand pool for my daghters to play in and then I started making sand castles out of the resulting sand hill. We (the Rowdy Gowdy Team) began to enter local sand sculpting contests. And in 1992 I entered my first professional contest in Ft. Myers Beach, FL.

Q. You must have had some art training...?

A. Yes. I have always been interested in art. Mostly oil painting and pastel portraits. I studied painting at Stockton State College.But I consider myslf to be a self taught artist. I believe art is something that must be experienced. You can't learn it from a book. You must get out there and do it.

Q. Where do you get your ideas for your sculptures?

A. This for me is the most fun. I love coming up with unique ideas for sculptures. I try to create something tht will appeal to the locale in which I am building.... or I will talk over the theme with the event organizers and insert something original to give it humor, or feeling of some sort.

Q. What is your specialty?

A. Just about anything... but if pressured for an answer I think colored logos, realistic faces, expressive body gestures, sand castles, large out of scale things, capturing feeling and emotion ... anything.

Q. How long does the sculpture last?

A. We can make sand sculptures last for possibly months. A windscreen solution can be sprayed on the finished sculpture. This solution gives the sculpture a hardened "shell" and will protect it from the wind and the rain. However it won't protect it from climbing kids. That's what security is for.

Q. Can you build these indoors?

A. Yes, we can build these inside or outside.

Q. Where did you get the sand from?

A. Any local sand quarry can supply us with the sand.

Q. What do you do with the sand when you are done?

A. Where appropriate we leave it for the kids to play on. In such cases that it must be removed, we mostly leave it up to the organizer of the event to remove it since it is usually up for awhile and by then we are somewhere else sculpting another one. However we can arrange for removal of sand at added cost if the organizer doesn't want to bother with it. We usually truck it to a nearby play yard or simply truck it back to the sand quarry.

Q. Is is a special kind of sand?

A. Yes, we usually use a sand that has a little "silt" content. This acts as a binder to the sand and makes it stick together. We will research local sand quarries to find the best "sculpture" sand in the area we are building.

Q. Do you find that sand sculpture appeals to a certain age group?

A. Yes, sand sculpture appeals to the age group two to one hundred and two!


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