YARMOUTH – “Is this a good living?” said Morgan Rudluff, while taking a break from carving a dog out of sand in front of Riverview Bait and Tackle. “I live just fine.”
Rudluff is a professional sand sculptor visiting Yarmouth as she did last year, to help at the Yarmouth Summer Celebration Kick-Off. Sand sculptures are being crafted at 40 local businesses, said Lee Boisvert, owner of Riverview Bait and Tackle
According to Rudluff, 30, of Santa Cruz, California “a local sand sculptor, commissioned by the town of Yarmouth, hired me and about six others for the Yarmouth Sand Castle Trail.” The trail is mostly along Route 28 in West Yarmouth and South Yarmouth.
She came in to town for about a week for the project. It takes an entire day to carve one sculpture, she said. There is not a lot of difference, she said, between what a professional sand sculptor does and what anyone else does at the beach. “The difference is, we spend more time doing it.”
There are only about 150 professional sand sculptors in the United States, said Rudluff. “Everyone basically gets into sand sculpture in different ways,” she said. Rudluff said she met someone eight years ago in California who trained her.
“If if finds you, you eventually have enough patience to keep going,” she said. “It requires a lot of work. You have to like calluses and sunburn.”
Building a sand sculptor is definitely art, she said. Most professionals do other kinds of art also. She said she designs
Rudluff said said sculpting is “one of the only art forms where we have to build the canvas before we start. There are two steps to sand sculpting. First you build the form.” And then after hours of carving, like magic, a dog modeled after Boisvert’s elderly lab, Lily, appeared in the sand.
“It looks like my dog,” said Boisvert.
As Rudluff continued to work on the sculpture, she sprayed some water onto the unformed sand at the dog’s feet. “The sand is held together by water,” she said. “The surface tension between the grains holds the sand together. The water acts like a glue to hold it together.”
In fact, she said, “A little bit of rain is not a problem. We put it under a tent to protect it from heavy rain.” And then she told a trade secret. “We spray a light covering of waterproof glue to protect the details. It’s like putting hairspray in your hair.”
Her favorite piece ever, at Navarre Beach in California, was titled “The Heartbeat Is The Rhythm Of The Soul.” The sculpture was of “a woman wearing headphones inside of a water droplet that was dripping into a heart-shaped pond.”
It’s a great job, she said. “I get to travel the country. Yes, I work at beaches, and a lot of parking lots.”
— Brian Tarcy