How to Build a Mayan Temple Out of Sand

Two Methods:Basic MethodThe Top Down method

The building can start as a castle, or just a hill; and can be with much effort and time, a Temple.

Method 1
Basic Method

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    Build a large square base that is 1 inch (2.5 cm) higher than the sand.
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    Add another pile 1 inch (2.5 cm) taller than the previous platform. continue until the top is only 1 x 1.
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    Make a long trail of sand from the top of the temple to the bottom that is 2 inches (5.1 cm) thick.
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    Carve stairs 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick in the center of the trail of sand. At the top there should be an even steeper temple with cobbled arches and with a roof comb on top of that. A nice finishing touch is to rake the sand around the sculpture and leave it devoid of your footprints so the scale can suggest itself to others.

Method 2
The Top Down method

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    Pile up as much sand you can muster with a shovel into a large hill. If you have a friend helping you, have one person shovel while the other splashes water on the freshly dug sand. Moisture is important.
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    Find a long straight piece of material that will help you make square sides like stairs. This straight-edged tool can be the back of a sand chair, a 2x4 piece of lumber or even the pole of a sand umbrella.
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    Square off and flatten the top of the sand pile. Make sure it’s a cube or a rectangular prism.
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    Hold the straight edge tool horizontally and cut downward on one side of the mound to start the first stair riser. This will push the sand down the hill a little so do not worry what it looks like from the bottom. Focus on the top.
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    Pull the straight edge out towards you a few inches to make the first level stair after you have cut down a few inches into the sand.
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    Make the second stair exactly how you did the first cut by starting a few inches away form the first stair. Be very careful at this step for if you have very dry sand you can have a collapse.
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    Continue the “cut down, pull out” method multiple times all the way down the side of the mound. Try to keep the stairs as level as possible.
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    Go to the next side of the mound (right or left, it does not mater) and continue the method the same. Try to match the stair levels on the corners as best you can but remember you do not have to be perfect.
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    Finish off all four sides. Mayan pyramids and Egyptian pyramids typically have only 4 sides.
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    Finished.

Tips

  • A really cool thing to try is to get wet sand in your hand and drip the sand into tall towers. The wet sand looks like magic sand as the moisture disappears from it and leaves you with a fantastic fairy tale castle. Give it a try, you will be addicted.
  • If you have not worked with the sand at hand, take a half hour or so to experiment with how much detail you can render before deciding on a design.
  • Some temples in Copan Honduras are actually not joined at the corners. This gives a good affect because you do not have to match up the levels from side to side.
  • If you dig with a heavy shovel watch out for bare toes
  • Think strategically. If you work close to the water line remember to consider the tides. If you have a time limit, do not mound the sand so large you do not have time to detail it.
  • Always wear sun screen.

Warnings

  • Look out for rocks when digging

Things You'll Need

  • Shovels, buckets for water! That is what keeps things together.
  • Some kind of carving device(s). Butter knives, masons trowels and palate knives are all great.
  • Spray bottles to help keep your sand pile moist and easy to carve with lovely details.
  • Enough time to both pile up the sand and then to carve your rough block into something special.

Article Info

Categories: Model Making