THOUSAND OAKS : Sand Sculpture Measures Up as a World Record


Using an infrared beam, a scientific calculator and some basic trigonometry, a surveyor measured a Thousand Oaks sand castle Friday morning and judged it to be the tallest indoor sand sculpture in the world.

Twenty-five feet, 9 1/2 inches, to be exact, said David D. Awrey, vice president of CVE Engineering Inc.

No big deal, said David Vander Pluym, the artist who constructed the sculpture, which soars to the second floor of The Oaks shopping mall.


Vander Pluym was unimpressed by his own feat, which broke his earlier record of 23 feet, 6 inches. He said the world record mattered more to mall managers seeking publicity than it did to him.

“Certainly, it’s a challenge,” Vander Pluym said. “But as far as what really matters, it’s the art.”

By the art, he said, he means not the final product--200 tons of sand and water shaped into a menagerie of muses, authors, artists and composers in a tribute to the arts--but the sculpting.

“I consider sand sculpture first and foremost a performing art,” Vander Pluym said. “For me, the important part is the process. It’s sculpting. Having it last beyond that isn’t really important.”

Mall officials plan to bulldoze the sculpture in August.

“It would last the life of the building if it were left up,” said Vander Pluym, 54, who said he has been sculpting since he was a child growing up in Manhattan Beach. Vander Pluym employs four professional sculptors and is aided by dozens of volunteers.

Thursday, as the surveyors gazed at the top of the sculpture through cross-hairs, volunteers were putting finishing touches on the bottom.


Darlene Appleford, 53, an art teacher, squirted water at the sand from a spray bottle, then screwed off the top and poured the water onto a pile of sand, mixing it into the sand with her hands.

“We all think about sand at the beach where it’s so loose. The water really helps give it some form,” said Appleford, who hopes to share her new sand sculpting expertise with her elementary school students.

Work on the sculpture began Jan. 27.

Despite a delay caused by a small earthquake that damaged the very top of the sculpture, Vander Pluym said he hopes to complete the project in 10 days.