Preservation technique to prove priceless

An innovative process tried out in early August is shaping up to be as successful as had been hoped.

Pressure washing removes remaining foam from David Ducharme's concrete artwork.

An innovative process tried out in early August is shaping up to be as successful as had been hoped.The beneficiaries are sand sculptors and everyone who enjoys their work.

It all stems from the “Sand-Sational” event – part of the local Sculpture Walk program. As many are aware – especially in communities like White Rock and Parksville, which know all about sandcastle events – the glory of the sand medium is short-lived. One-of-a-kind masterpieces last only until the tide comes in and photos are the only evidence that they ever existed.

Four sand sculptures were created this summer in Castlegar and three of them have managed to hang in pretty well. Their life outside the Pioneer Arena was expected to extend for several months under ideal conditions.

Something exciting and different was tried out with the fourth, something to make the lifespan an open-ended one.

As written up in the Aug. 4 issue of the Castlegar News, one of the sculptures was covered in insulating foam, creating a mould. A certain amount of time was given for the foam to set before the form was carefully cleaned out.

Once made ready, the mould was available for when the pouring of a special blend of concrete could be arranged. It took the better part of two months to coordinate, but the results were clearly worth the wait.

The project’s first step illustrates how much potential may be realized in the future.

“There is a lot of room for improvement,” assessed Castlegar’s Sculpture Walk coordinator Pat Field on Sept. 29. “The good news is, it works, and there is an opportunity here for sculptors and Jesse Ewing (the spray foam guy), and for Castlegar to be able to get permanent pieces from the sand sculptures we do every year.”

As for the artist who has supplied the work for the trial run, David Ducharme of Winlaw indicated on Sept. 30 he’s pleased.

“The process itself has been pretty ideal,” he said. “With the outcome there’s still a bit of a learning curve in terms of bonding.”

Ducharme mentioned how the option of creating something to endure for the long term can influence future works, from the planning stage and beyond.”You know, we won’t mind spending a bit more time on it.”


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