How We Build Them

How we build them:

As you can see in our “What’s different about HSA?” page, how projects are built is extremely important in considering who to hire for your project.  Will the project last?  Will it meet and exceed your expectations?  Or will you have problems?

All our projects utilize materials and techniques that are state-of-the-art.  Some developed over years of experiment and trial and error.  One things for certain, you can be assured that we will do everything in our power to provide you with the best quality and value project possible.  Whether concrete, sand, or any other media HSA is committed to your complete satisfaction.

Now we invite you to take a look “behind the curtain” and explore how just some simple sand, water, and cement etc. can be turned into amazing landscape environments, waterfalls and sculptures!

Henderson Sculptural Arts, blowing on "Shotcrete" to create pool and water feature.

Blowing on “Shotcrete” to create pool and water feature.

Water Features:

Determining what to build is obviously the first thing to consider.  Location, Purpose, Project Scope and Size, Budget, Engineering and Permitting, (when needed) and Timeline.  Once these issues have been defined then work can begin.

All project are unique but this is a very quick summery…

For Artificial Rockwork jobs, assuming you’ve covered the issues of design, engineering, and permitting, (when needed) the site prep, (ground clearing, footings, etc.) goes first.   This is the foundation.  Out of this springs rebar shapes.   The rock shaping is completed, burlap is added as a “backstop” and then shotcrete is sprayed on the project.  After this waterproofing and the texture coat is applied, overall project painting/coloration next then the job’s done.

For Biological Features the design etc. needs to be determined and completed as well then site prep as noted above.   With liner projects, (usually a 45mil EPDM rubber liner) the underlayment, (protective fabric) is placed first with the actual liner then being laid out.  The “biofalls”, or “filterfalls”, skimmer and autofill  are then attached to the liner in preparation of the adding of rock.  All rocks/boulders are added, expandable foam is placed in the water course to direct the water flow upwards and over the stone work, the edges are trimmed, the perimeter is flushed out, (plants are added or other natural elements) add water, then final “tweeking”, (adding the colonizing “good” bacteria to the water) is completed.  Job done.  Biological projects built with concrete simply follow that building approach.
See album

Henderson Sculptural Arts, NY St. Fair, 1998 Sand Castle completed pound up.
NY St. Fair, 1998 Sand Castle completed pound up. 412 tons.


Sand Sculptures:

The first step is finding good sand.  This is critical.  Good sand can hold the more vertical shapes while bad sand cannot.  Once the sand has been chosen it needs to be compacted either in a pile of sorts or inside wooden or plastic forms.  The compaction can be done simply by hand packing, hand tamping and even gas powered Whacker or Jumping Jack compactors can be employed.  The later usually inside wooden forms which are typically nailed together as shown at left.  Another approach is Plastic forms, (thick plastic roles used for pools) are “C” clamped together and strapped or banded.

Sand is added in layers and compacted using water at the correct amount.  VERY important not to use to much or too little…  After each form is filled a smaller form can then be added on top.  Compacting is continued until the entire “pound-up” or sand compaction phase is completed.

The next step is simply the carving away of the sand from the top down to achieve the desired sculpture.   Sand that is carved down can also be re-compacted and sculpted to add additional elements to the overall project.


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  • Henderson Sculptural Arts, NY St. Fair 412 Ton Sand Caslte Forms
  • Henderson Sculptural Arts, New York State Fair 412 Ton Sand Castle
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  • New Const. Const. Phase St. Michaels Grotto
  • New Const. St. Michael's Grotto
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  • Recolor, Whitacker
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  • Shotcrete 1
  • Shotcrete, Seligson