Photograph by Priscilla Iezzi
When 21-year-old Alex LeBon isn’t studying physics at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, he’s back home in Mission Viejo, putting in full days at the family company, Archisand. At age 4 he shadowed his father, Greg, and learned the sand-contruction business from the ground up, starting with carving small windows in sand castles. Now LeBon builds entire sculptures for ESPN, Cirque du Soleil, Disney, and others—and has become something of a sand connoisseur.
So this is a family affair?
My sister Pam also sculpts and my stepmom, Kathy, does the marketing and photography. We travel together, too. We just got back from Chicago where we did a bear sculpture for Charmin toilet paper.
Is it just sand and water?
Usually, yes. We only use glue if a sculpture has to stay up longer than a day. It only takes a drop or two of Elmer’s white glue to a gallon of water that’s sprayed on as a thin layer.
Ever build sandcastles for fun?
We actually have a sand pit in our backyard. It’s really nice compared to the beach sand in Orange County, which has a lot of shells and seaweed.
Any mishaps on the job?
A few years ago, we worked for a mud run. Instead of sand, they had mud. The stuff was so hard to work with. We were there until
11 at night, using flashlights in the freezing cold.
Is it hard to see your work disappear?
When you tear it down, people always gasp, but we just take a picture and then turn the sculpture to dust. It’s almost Zen—you can’t get attached to it. It’s the circle of life.
SEE THE SAND!
Locals will battle it out on Oct. 5 at the Corona del Mar Sandcastle Contest.
Watch Alex in action: