Sandcastle sculpture in Dubai

Dubai sandcastle artist Jenny Rossen shares her artistic tips


Kelly Crane speaks to Dubai sandcastle artist Jenny Rossen about her sandy adventures.

The history of the humble sandcastles is difficult to rigidly define. The endless amount of fun your little tykes have making them isn’t.

Kids have been building sandcastles since the beginning of time and it’s not hard to understand the draw.

Drenching freshly-pressed clothes in sea water (who wants to wait until mum’s got swimmers and sun cream ready), before scooping up bucket after bucket of sand to make a foundation strong enough to withstand even the naughtiest little sister’s unruly stomping.

Beach weather is back and for mums and dads across the UAE that means one thing – cheap/free days by the ocean.

All very well unless upon your arrival at said waterfront location you hear the words we all dread. “Making sandcastles is boring and for babies” whines your seven-going-on-17-year-old.

Dubai’s very own sandcastle pro Jenny Rossen to the rescue of both parents and the long-standing legacy of the bucket and spade.

Rossen has quite literally carved a career out of sand doing something most kids do on their day off.

“Building sandcastles can open up a world of make-believe,” says the Australian sand sculptor.

It all started for the Western Australian-born artist when she was a little girl. “It’s a passion that grew into something very special,” says Rossen now famous for sandcastles of full-sized beds, Arabic palaces and much more. “I kept telling myself I just want to make one really cool sand castle.”

Do you recall making your very first sandcastle?
Yes. I was with my brother Paul and sister Angela and I remember how they could scoop so much sand with their hands. They would make a big hole and build a sand castle wall against the waves and I would sit in it and make drip castle turrets while my older sisters and brothers swam in the sea.

How did you take it to the next level?
I just kept making castles and enjoyed it. I went to art school and worked as a sculptor but had no money. I would go to the beach and make sand sculptures and people started putting money on my towel. I was offended at first then I realised I could pay the bills doing what I love.

Describe the process for us
Making a sand castle is like buying a rose, you do it for the beauty of the moment. It is like listening to a great song. It is the process, which is the fun part.

Are your kids sandcastlers too?
My son and I make castles together and often with friends. He thinks our castles are just normal but he enjoys the process and always invites other kids to play with us.

What would you say to kids who think they are too old to make sandcastles?
Just do it. Forget age, that isn’t important. Sometimes I meet people who are scared to try sand sculptures and making castles but when they just get over the hump and start then they have fun.

What are Dubai’s best sandcastle hotspots?
The sand at the One & Only Royal Mirage is very good as is the beach near Umm Sequiem Park. Remember to get down near the water line. Water is the key.

Do you need a bucket and spade?
It makes life easier. Buckets are great for transporting water and spades are great for lifting sand but you can use your hands too.

Advice for kids starting out?
The secret ingredient is water. Use lots of water because the wet sand will harden up and is easier to carve. Also make a picture in your mind and even draw it to show the team – that way you are all working towards the same vision.
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Sandcastle stuff…

The perfect ratio for sandcastles is one bucket of water to every 10 buckets of sand.

Ed Jarrett is the Guinness World Record holder for the tallest sandcastle at nearly 38-feet (nearly 12m) tall built on a wide base.

The first sandcastles date back to Ancient Egypt, when the Egyptians used sand models to outline the design of pyramids before actual construction began.

The earliest documented sand sculpture was built by Philip McCord, who created a sand sculpture of a woman and a baby in 1897 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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