Sand sculptor crafts Cherry Blossom masterpiece

lfabian@macon.comMarch 20, 2014 

As Greg Glenn sculpts 25 tons of packed sand, he doesn’t want to think about what will happen to it later.

He remains focused on the Cherry Blossom-themed art emerging from a mega mound of Alabama sand imported to the Round Building at Macon’s Central City Park.

“I love it, love it, love it,” said Linda Maddox, the Cherry Blossom Festival’s executive director of Central City Park.

Just like the signature blooms of the festival, the sculpture’s beauty will be fleeting but will live on in souvenir snapshots and memories.

Decades ago, Maddox saw a sand sculpture at Westgate Mall. That memory inspired her to seek out a sand artist for this year’s festival.

“I was so in awe of it,” she said.

Hoping to draw more visitors to the park during the festival, she is always looking for the “wow” factor. She found it at Glenn’s website

For him, a picture is worth a thousand words of recommendation, as the images sell his work, he said.

The 50-year-old Huntington Beach, Calif., native doesn’t have big memories of playing with sand as a child, but the former engineer fell into his new career about 30 years ago.

He now travels the globe, including stops in Tasmania and Australia.

“It started out as a hobby,” Glenn said as he carved away segments of sand with his trowel. “I like it because you get to work big and work fast.”

His cherry blossom creation is mammoth: It took 15 men with nine wheelbarrows about two hours to carry the sand into the historic Round Building that’s being restored.

Glenn started the project Tuesday afternoon and will be finishing up this weekend to allow festival visitors the chance to see him in action.

Although the entire design was kept under wraps, the head of Petals the poodle and the top of the Central City Park bandstand were emerging by Wednesday morning.

Glenn uses a spray bottle to keep the sand moist and an industrial compactor to compress each 6-inch layer. His creation is held together by the friction of the grains.

“Fine (sand) is best, and angular grains are better,” he said.

He fills wooden frames that are larger at the base and taper, going up like a giant wedding cake.

Working from the top down, he shaves away layers of sand to create his images.

Occasionally a clump will fall and can’t be reattached.

“Sometimes it’s easier to sculpt it into something else,” he said.

On the beach, it’s often the tide that erases a sand artist’s work, or a mischievous kid kicking away the mini-castles on the coast.

Glenn cautions against anyone trying to knock down this creation without help.

“That dog’s head is about 200 pounds,” he said of the pom-pom poofed poodle. “If you punched him, you might break your hand.”

Macon’s signature Cherry Blossom Festival canines are pink, but don’t be looking for a pink hue to his work.

“You want it to look like sand,” he said. “Otherwise you lose the effect.”

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