One San Marcos artist has found an ocean of inspiration through a medium found right next to the waves — sand.
Mark Lambdin, a retired teacher, has always tried working with different mediums. When a group of friends mentioned they all liked to go to the beach, he decided to stretch his creativity and try his hand at sand sculpture.
“We started with basic sand castles and dragons, easy stuff that’s fun to do,” Lambdin said. “A lot of us were musicians, so after building we would play together and have a party with family.”
The group started with 75 people going to build sand castles every year, but dwindled as their children grew up. Now the group is called the San Marcos Suns, comprised of members who compete at Port Aransas and South Padre Island sand competitions.
While there are cash prizes at these contests, Lambdin said the Suns just go for the fun of it.
“There are professionals who take it seriously and go mainly to win money,” Lambdin said. “But we are just amateurs looking for a good time.”
His team has won numerous awards at SandFest in Port Aransas and Sandcastle Days in South Padre, in group and duo categories. Lambdin and a friend won first place in the state of Texas category.
Every year the team comes up with a theme, kicks it around and builds the final idea. The themes get more elaborate as their mentor, “the Amazin’ Walter,” helps expand their tools-of-the-trade.
The “Amazin’” Walter McDonald said he met the group randomly on the beach and started playing in the sand with them. Soon he was meeting with them on every trip.
“I just gave them some techniques for structuring. All of these guys are artists, so they’ve got a good imagination,” McDonald said. “It’s always a huge blessing when they come. They’re a bunch of good friends.”
Lambdin and his team have made an impact on the sand-sculpting world. They built St. Gumby and the Dragon, a tribute to a childhood T.V. show. They took the beach to a mall in Dallas and made a sand barge on the San Marcos River made out of tubes.
But the nature of the medium means that none of Lambdin’s work, even the structures that gained him and his team renown, last for very long.
Lambdin doesn’t seem to mind.
“This is the only art that can’t be bought, sold or owned in any way,” Lambdin said. “So, it’s just for fun. By the time you’re done, a wave of kids come and tackles it. It’s all part of