Mr. and Mrs. Claus’ enduring romance is captured in sand by sculptors at the Waikiki Sheraton
In addition to Christmas, romance is the theme of this year’s heartwarming pair of holiday sand sculptures at the Sheraton Waikiki, which have been in the process of creation on-site since Nov. 12 and were completed Friday.
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In addition to Christmas,
romance is the theme of this year’s heartwarming pair of holiday sand sculptures at the Sheraton Waikiki, which have been in the process of creation on-site since Nov. 12 and were completed Friday.
In both works, Santa Claus only had eyes for his spouse, whether they were alone on a koa loveseat surrounded by gifts or kicking back with their reindeer, menehune assistant and a kalua pig on Waikiki Beach.
Mrs. Claus, however, looked away from her husband with a demure smile, her eyes downcast, as he leaned in for a kiss but didn’t quite get there in “Santa Under the Mistletoe,” which stands 8 feet tall by 8 feet wide in the hotel lobby and weighs
In “Santa’s Beach Day” she’s too busy making her own sand sculpture to acknowledge her adoring spouse’s wave from across the 25-foot-long, 12-foot-wide, 25-ton panorama in
the portico of the hotel’s main entrance.
While many themes, such as coral reefs, could illustrate Hawaii, artist Jill Harris of Sandsational Sand Sculpting said she preferred a human connection with a local flavor. “We want to show people, to make the sculpture interactive,” she said Thursday morning as she and her teammates, Thomas Koet and Jon Woodworth, gently carved the lifelike figures and landscaping, blew
on them through straws and sprayed them with water.
Sand is much easier to shape when it is wet because it’s soft, she said. “When it’s dry it gets hard.”
But they couldn’t let it get too wet, for instance, while making Mrs. Claus’ lei, or her neck could get so soft that “her head would fall off. Her head alone weighs 50-75 pounds.”
That was one reason they can’t get too intricate, Harris said.
Yet the sculptures were rich with details: banks of orchids, palm fronds, the reindeer’s antlers, the menehune’s helmet, the smiles that expressed the characters’ personalities, Santa’s puckered lips.
“We try to show a lot of emotion,” Harris said, citing the Italian Baroque sculptor Bernini as her main inspiration.
She taught herself
her craft in her backyard
23 years ago and has been sculpting sand at the Sheraton for 13 years; she and Koet, her business and life partner, live in Melbourne, Fla.; Woodworth lives in Austin, Texas.
Asked whether they
ever used glue, Harris said Sandsational’s sculptures are made exclusively of sand and water.
They used quarry sand, with angular, rough grains that “grab into each other” unlike beach sand, which is “round and smooth, and sculpting with it is like stacking marbles — they collapse,” she added.
“The quarry is in Kapolei, and they deliver and dump a mountain of sand at the entry,” she said. The artists shoveled the sand into
five plywood forms, or boxes, stacking them
up, and then removed
the frames one by one as they sculpted the sand
from the top down; the wood is stored and reused each year, and the sand
is used for hotel landscaping.
“Instead of color, sculpture is all about the contrast between light and shadow,” Harris said as
she shaped the underside of Mrs. Claus’ forearm.
Asked why he was smiling as he performed the delicate task of gouging a dark iris in the menehune’s eye with a pointed knife, “I tend to make the expression
the guy’s making,” Koet said. “It’s an unconscious thing.”
In the busy lobby, two women paused to study the mistletoe sculpture. One wondered aloud what was in the small box with a big bow in Santa’s hands.
“If it’s jewelry,” her friend said, “he’ll get his kiss.”
The sand sculptures
are on view 24 hours a
day at the Sheraton
Waikiki, 2255 Kalakaua Ave., through early January.