Rick Mungeam, with the help of his wife, Capri, is finding a way to make a very happy living off of sand.
The sand sculptor-extraordinaire left behind a 22-year career in architecture and by a twist of fate now resides in Santa Rosa Beach making sandcastle magic.
The Mungeams left behind their home in Colorado in 2010 to travel the country and eventually found themselves along the Gulf in South Padre Island, Texas, where Rick first realized the potential in sand sculpting.
“I was introduced to a man doing sand sculptures,” said Rick, who is the artist behind Beach Sand Sculptures. “I was intrigued by it.”
By early 2011, the two found their way to the Emerald Coast of Florida and spent most of their days on the beach where Rick decided to try his hand at sand sculpting.
“I just started playing in the sand. I had a blast doing that,” he said. “It was kind of a release for me to be designing — but it was a different medium.”
Since then, Rick has created everything from marriage proposals to castles to fish, but his capabilities are boundless.
“Many people think of small buckets in the sand,” said Rick. “But you can sculpt anything.”
“Once people see the possibilities, it’s really kind of endless,” said Capri, who helps her husband — and tones her biceps — by carrying the eight-gallon, 42.5-pound buckets of water from the Gulf to wet the soft sand.
The sweat is worth it, and without fail, every time he makes a sculpture, people will approach to ooh and ah and take photos.
Though Rick and Capri saw firsthand how well the sculptures were received, it wasn’t until Rick created a castle, complete with heart and banner, at Grayton Beach that “the light bulb turned on.”
“A wedding party showed up and they wanted to use the sculpture in their wedding photos,” he said.
Later, families showed up to take sunset photos on the beach and wanted to use it as well. He recalled thinking, “How can we turn this into a business?”
But the couple didn’t plant their feet firmly in our snow-white sand at that time, and continued traveling to enter into sand sculpting competitions from Pensacola to South Florida.
After taking a first place in Fort Myers’ World Championship, the couple decided it was time to settle in one place to build the business they had long dreamed of.
Naturally, they chose South Walton for its family friendly atmosphere and beautiful scenery.
“We decided this is where we wanted to plant our feet,” said Rick, who hasn’t had much time to plant his feet since.
Soon after moving to Santa Rosa Beach, “We basically hit the ground running,” said Capri of their 2012 summer, during which they held two or three lessons a day.
The couple’s sand-sculpting lessons are perfect for families with children, as well as businesses looking for an out-of-the-ordinary team-building exercise.
The couple also accepts private commissions and has helped more than a dozen head-over-heels men propose to their women using the whimsy of a sand sculpture.
And though these creations may cost upwards of $500 to commission, the Mungeams all but guarantee a yes.
“We’re 100 percent,” said Capri, who documents the “YES!” using her phone.
The couple creates sculptures from Panama City to Pensacola, but it shouldn’t be difficult for locals to capture the couple in action, especially during the holiday season.
Friday, Rick sculpted a Christmas-themed sand sculpture on the beach at Seaside, which will stay up for as long as three weeks. Families are welcome to stroll down and check it out, as well as pay to have their Christmas photos taken in front of it. It can be personalized with a family name, as well.
And though the couple has been able to make a business out of sand sculpting, they are just having fun playing with a slice of nostalgia.
“They intrigue the mind, capture the soul, and delight the heart,” said Capri. “It’s priceless.”
For more information about Beach Sand Sculptures, visit beachsandsculptures.com, Like BeachSandSculptures.com on Facebook, call 303-681-2631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.