They blow my mind! Remind me: how do they get the sand to stick together like that?
I don't think I have the real answer. They start by bringing in sand, they don't use the sand from the beach. Each sculptor gets the same amount of sand and they start by packing the sand into forms (cylinders, not a form for the end product). They remove the outside structure that they packed the sand into and start carving.
I found this guide, seems sensible.
Funny, I actually have photos of some of the sculptures in that article.
Here's one from last year of a sculpture in progress - you can still see the form used to pack the sand as the artist is working on it.
Love this one!
I should have included a full view of that last sculpture, he has a box of (huge) sunflower seeds sitting next to him.
Seen on the Internetz. Mind blown.