Seems that I’ve kicked off my fourth year of Dee-Scovering by recollecting a bit of auld lang syne. My very first post was about my 2010 sand sculpting lesson with DC Sandman, Chip Cooper.
It was a gift to myself, a little structured play time as a reward for hard work and let me tell you, it was one of the best presents I’ve ever received. Chip likes to say that “A day spent sanding is one in which no aging will occur,” and I found that to be true. Even though I focused on learning technique and artistry, there’s just something about kneeling in the sand along the water making mudpies and being caressed by ocean breezes that melts the cares away.
Since that first lesson, both Chip and I have been busy. I’ve written two novels, The Lost King and The King’s Ransom. Meanwhile Chip has given numerous sculpting lessons not the least of which have been for “Lesson Mountain” during SandFest. Chip says that after a half day’s lesson his students have learned enough to enter competitions.
He’s done a number of custom sculptures including wedding castles and proposal castles. For 15 years, one family has asked him to join their family reunion and this year wasn’t any different. His sand castle for that event featured an arch, spiral staircases and towers topped with onion domes.
Chip has been creating sand sculptures for 30 years, has won numerous awards in local, state and national competitions, has created pieces for many events and competitions, businesses as well as individuals. He was recently invited to join the Better Business Bureau of Corpus Christi and DC Sandman is an accredited Art Instruction and School member with an “A” rating.
Of course he’s refined his sculpting techniques over the years and has studied different architectural styles from around the world, bringing Romanesque, Asian and even Mesoamerican effects into his work. He likes to teach a little history along with sculpting skills.
In addition he’s learned something else unrelated to the construction of buildings, and that’s how to deal with people better. “I’ve learned to listen as much as speak,” he says. He’s found that in the course of a sculpting lesson, total strangers come to trust him. Kids as well as parents become relaxed enough to discuss personal issues. He’s done three projects with Wounded Warriors. “It’s healing for them and for me,” Chip says. “I’m helping myself by helping them.”
As a teacher, Chip says “I feel like I’ve contributed, like I’m giving back.” His students get a skill that they can continue to use throughout their life. “One day, I’ll be gone, but that little boy that I taught will remember his sanding exercise.”
About 25% of Chip’s business is made up of repeat customers. Recently he was asked if he could provide a take-home sand-sculpting kit.
The beach isn’t the only place you can see Chip’s creations. Chip hauled a truckload of sand to Kerrville to create sculpture for an arts and crafts fair there but you don’t have to go that far. Check out the sand pit at Avery’s Kitchen at 200 W. Avenue G. Chip’s usually got some sculpture on display there. An application of glue solution keeps the work from eroding and preserves it for several weeks. For many months he worked on the extensive “Frosty Towers” condominium complex. He carved the names of vacationing passers-by into the door lintels which allowed a lot of people to tell the folks back home that they had a condo in Port Aransas. Recently he spent eight months on an ambitious cathedral construction.
It’s his current sand pit sculpting project that’s most near and dear to my heart. Chip is building Bell Castle, the home of King Bewilliam. King Bewilliam is the hero of The Lost King and The King’s Ransom, books one and two in the fiction series I’ve authored. Chip has taken the books’ description of Bell Castle as inspiration and a starting point and added his own interpretation. At this writing it’s a work in progress but it should be near completion by the time you read this. What do you think? Is Chip’s sculpture how you imagined Bell Castle to look?
To schedule a sanding lesson or custom sculpture of your own, contact DC Sandman at (361) 852-4216 or (361) 658-4075 or send an email to DCooper@dcsandman.com. For copies of The Lost King and The King’s Ransom visit the Port Aransas Art Center or the Estelle Stair Gallery in Rockport. You’ll also find the Kindle version of The King’s Ransom on sale for a limited time at amazon.com, and the epub version of The Lost King on sale at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/230605 through July. To see the Bell Castle, cruise by Avery’s Kitchen at the corner of Alister and Cut Off Road. I’ll see you there.