How to make a Shark (BTT sand-sculpture)

Ok,  so if you haven’t read my other blogs on sand sculpture I need to explain the BTT (Between The Tides) As in – you are working with sea sand ( not the best – sand grains roll off each other as they dry so not as strong in sculpture) plus you have all the randoms (shells and bits of shell, seaweed, stones, rubbish) that may get into your sculpture sand, plus there is not time to stack and pack as the ‘professionals’ do as you only have the time between tides to work in (or less).

So there you are at the seaside with good sand and a collection of items to help you. A shovel or two, a knife and a spoon are pretty useful, a couple of brushes (cheap decorators paint brushes – one large one small – (about four inches and an inch) and at least one bucket.

On this day I looked at the tide, it was coming in, but I thought I had time for a shark. [click on the pictures if you need to see details or the whole picture as the thumbnail size trims it down]

1, Mark out shark shape on the sand with the corner of the shovel – give it a bit of a wiggle to suggest movement, 2,  Go round this line again, digging the shovel in deeper, 3, Dig all round the shape up to the line and tossing the waste in to the shape.

4, Continue doing this, digging from the outside towards the line and throwing the waste into the shape centre – consciously building up higher where it is needed. 5, Using your fingers knead the lumps of sand and using your hands roughly shape the mound into the approximate outline. 6, Pat it firmly into shape – using the back of a shovel to firm up the larger areas and hands for smaller areas like the tail. (Do not worry about the fin yet – but leave the fin areas rough – do not pat smooth)






7,  Start to build up the dorsal fin, it will be about six inches wide where it leaves the back of the shark, use loose damp sand that has come from the shaping and squeeze it up between your hands always leaving the top edge rough to take the next layer. 8, Work on a large wide curve, bringing the sand up thinner nearer the top. Using both hands, one to steady the fin, pat the sides to gently firm it. 9,  Do the same for the tail (caudal) fin.(just about visible on this pic)  Then leave both to ‘settle in’.

10, While the dorsal fins ‘settle in’ turn to the side (pectoral) fins, sweep away loose sand. 11,  Use the knife and trim to shape – again removing loose sand. 12, Cut angles on the fins and slightly undercut both front and back to make them look thinner.

13, Gently pat and brush down the whole body of the shark until you are happy that it looks smooth enough. 14, Find a some suitable shells or pebbles to use for the shark’s eyes. Mussel shells, smooth clam shells or flat round grey pebbles are best. With a little rotational movement, site these either side of the head – taking care to have them even and 15, using the knife or tip of the spoon carve the nostrils.

16, Now return to the dorsal and caudal fins. For both of the fins start by marking out the curve that will make the characteristic shark fin look – draw it gently and evenly on  both sides. 17, Do the caudal fin on the tail first – it will give you practice. 18, 19, 20  start to shave the sand away, cutting at an angle from one side then the other. 21, Thin out the top of the fin a little by shaving gently with the knife – brush down to remove loose sand. (most pictures show working on large dorsal fin)

22, Below the nose of the shark draw a line for the mouth, then draw another line just below that one – carefully cut out the wedge in between. Add some broken shells to make white teeth. 23,  Draw the gills on either side of the head – again by making two cuts. 24, brush the cuts smooth to finish.

25,  Tidy the area, pulling loose sand out to make an edge to frame the sculpture . 26, There is always something red in the flotsam on the beach – here a broken piece of plastic makes a good raw-meat look-alike for the shark to get its teeth into, 27, Final picture of the shark,  28, silhouette against the incoming tide.

Hope you have enjoyed watching me make a sand shark 🙂

and thanks to my friend Krissi for the shots where I am in them! And – it’s true – I must be a little mad – taking time to make such things that last such a short time before the tide takes them away. However, as we packed up and returned to our car, ours weren’t the only photographs that were taken of the shark – so it gave some pleasure to others too.

Latest info for my FWT cheerleaders is – a half pound down and I’m giving a talk on weight loss by using the method my sons and I worked out, at my WI on Wednesday – so that should be fun.

And I am still gearing up for the poetry workshop I am running at the Landulph Festival on Tuesday of next week – more about poetry then!

What do you like to do on the beach? Lie in the sun or do something active? Do share – I love to hear from you.


4 thoughts on “How to make a Shark (BTT sand-sculpture)

  1. Hi Rabia – Thanks 🙂 I love getting ‘lost’ in making a sand sculpture – totally takes over mind and body – and as a creative exercise it is also relaxing.

  2. Oh, that’s lovely! When our daughters were small they liked to make “gardens” with seaweed and shells in the sand where the water stayed in the ripples (very flat patch of beach), I’m sure we’ve got photos somewhere, will have to scan them and blog about it.

    • Hi Maggie,
      I started sandsculpting to entertain my boys when they were little! I caught up with your wonderful blog just last week – I’m sure your readers will love the beach gardens!

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