Mark VenitMark Venit is one of the world’s most renown sandcastle builders, specializing in authentic-looking works that, viewed from a distance, look like the real thing! Winner of more than a hundred local, regional, and international competitions, Mark and his work have been featured on television shows, in commercials and print ads, and at trade fairs and conventions, throughout the USA, Canada, and Europe, as well as in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. His passion since childhood has been castles, knights, and things medieval, and, when working in Europe, he spends his free time visiting castles and cathedrals. Having visited more than 300 of them and taking extensive notes and photographs, he has a first hand knowledge and appreciation of the history and architecture of the fortresses and palaces built by ancient masons and artisans. His home in Ocean Pines, Maryland, near the white, sandy beaches of Ocean City, Maryland, is decorated in medieval splendor, replete with heraldry, tapestries, reproduction thrones, trophy mounts, and bathed in authentic 12th Century colors and wall textures. Even his cats have royal names – Charlemagne, Louis XIV, and, well, “Princess” Tiger Lily. Occasionally lecturing on medieval times and architecture, Mark constructs castles and cathedrals using members of the audience to demonstrate the physical principles involved and uses people’s bodies, arms and legs to build roofs, walls, columns, and flying buttresses. In his “other” life he is a management and marketing consultant and author of over 400 articles in trade and professional journals. A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, where he earned his bachelors and masters degrees, he’s also the Chairman of West Palm Beach, Florida-based ShopWorks Software Corporation.
Mark Venit: Hi! Mark Venit, I am a professional sandcastle builder, and we are here in Ocean City, Maryland.
Next, we are going to construct a mud wall, with crenellations, and a beautiful, spiral staircase, also made out of mud. Take a little of the wet sand, and pile it up, just a little bit inside the edge, very scientific measurement, a handful.
Now, I am going to straighten the wall, clean up the top. Get ready for making the crenellations. I am now trimming off the mud on top with the dried sand below it, although I've tried to keep it moist, and I am making straight cuts again at a very slight outward angle, which gives it more strength. Right now, you can actually see the new mud and the old, dry, packed sand.
Now, as I did before, I am going to cut out the blocks, about one blade width apart. Now, our staircase, I cut a little while ago, this is pretty hard sand, but I cant really carve it because its too dry on top. Now, the principle of the staircase, and I am going to work in a larger scale, just press down, press down again, take this little tighter, press down, I press down again, and I press down yet again, push the sand out, and I cut the edges, and all of a sudden, we had a staircase right in there. We are going to be working in a much smaller scale. I am going to pile the mud, where I want the staircase; I am going to pack it a little bit. Dont worry about how the edge looks because I am going to be cutting it, as I did earlier, and all of a sudden steps reveal themselves. I am just going to trim some of this out.
Now, we begin and depending upon the angle, the type of sand you have, you could be using this or this or any flat surface. I like this because its more rigid, gives me more pull. I am pressing down, I am lifting out the sand, trying to compact it, and from time-to-time you need to reinforce it this way. Exterior staircases were a part of the early medieval castles, and until the mid 1300 to 1400s when they became palaces, we started to see the appearance of external staircases. Of course, this is a castle just for fun. As you are looking here, you can see a door at the top, and we've got end it somewhere, which is coming up very soon. Well just add a door. Here's your staircase, evidence of one underneath, crenellated tower. In our next section, we are going to create the Grand Entrance.