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Amazing Sand Sculptures and the Secret Ingredient Used to Make Them Last

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"Sun and wind are the biggest enemy of a sand sculpture."

Image source: Kristi Palma / Boston.com

This month's 15th annual Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire produced some spectacular works of art using just sand and water.

Well, water mixed with a little bit of glue.

Image source: hamptonbeach.org

The annual event is the brainchild of sculptor Greg Grady, who started the competition in 2000. Grady has made a name for himself around the world using sand, ice, snow and even pumpkins to create fanciful and larger-than-life works of art.

Grady spoke with TheBlaze Tuesday morning and explained the event, where 10 artists from around the world are selected to participate in the three-day competition.

"When we invite an artist, they qualify for two years," Grady told TheBlaze. "In the first year, they acclimate to the sand and the competition. The second year, they are typically more competitive."

Two hundred and fifty tons of sand is trucked to the area specifically for the event. But why would sand need to be imported to a beach? Grady explained, "We use a New Hampshire granite sand. Beach sand is round, granite sand is flat and sticks together better than round sand."

Each artist is given 10 tons of sand to create his or her sculpture, with the remaining sand used for demonstrations and classes. Two additional sand sculptors are on hand to teach spectators the basics of building using sand, water and occasionally some Elmer's glue.

How long will these creations last?

"They will be up until at least July 5. Sun and wind are the biggest enemies of a sand sculpture," Grady said. "The recent rains moving through the area were actually helpful."

In case a prolonged spell of dry and windy weather is forecast, Grady shared the secret ingredient the artists use: a mixture of glue and water creates a light protective crust on the sculptures.

A small committee of judges, including Grady, selects the top five sculptures and awards medals to the winners. There is also a "People's Choice" chosen.

"BFFs," the sand sculpture seen below was a fan favorite and received the "People's Choice" award for artist Justin Gordon:

Image source: Kristi Palma / Boston.com

Artist Abe Waterman scored a fourth-place finish with a sculpture he calls "Sucker Punch." In a video posted on Facebook, Waterman that the inspiration behind his work came from the IRS and tax day.

Fourth Place & Sculptors Choice "Sucker Punch"

Abe explaining the meaning of his sculpture.

Posted by Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition on Sunday, June 21, 2015

A closer look at Waterman's work reveals the fist delivering the sucker punch is also sporting a ring with the initials IRS.

Image source: Kristi Palma / Boston.com

The third-place winner was a very detailed work called "Role Play" from artist Carl D. Jara.

Image source: Kristi Palma / Boston.com

"Entangled," from Canadian artist, Guy-Olivier Deveau took second place.

Image source: Kristi Palma / Boston.com

The first-place winner was a sculpture titled, "Life." The front side of the work depicts a baby inside the womb. The back of the winning sand sculpture shows an adult male. The artist, Karen Jean Fralich has been a professional sand sculptor for the past 20 years and is a five-time world champion. She also has a personal connection to both the baby in the womb and the man's face on the back.

Fralich explained her winning artwork in this Facebook video.

First Place

Karen explaining the meaning of her sculpture.

Posted by Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition on Sunday, June 21, 2015

Boston.com has more photos from the competition.

Follow Mike Opelka (@Stuntbrain) on Twitter

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