Monday, August 29, 2011

Images in Sand

In northeastern Brazil, in the State of Rio Grande do Norte, the dunes overlooking the sea are permeated with salts and minerals.

And the same is true here, in the sandstone cliffs of the Morro Branco, in the State of Ceará. 

In both places, the presence of such salts tints the sand into an astonishing variety of very distinct colors.

And the availability of that colorful sand has given rise to a uniquely Brazilian art form.

It would be wrong to call it bottle painting, because what you see here hasn’t been painted, or even sketched in advance.

It’s formed by adding layer after layer of sand, and by the shaping of each layer with a wand inserted into the mouth of the bottle.

The artists pass on their techniques from generation to generation.

And, with few exceptions, the designs follow traditional patterns.

You’d think they’d be costly, wouldn’t you?

But no. It’s one of the poorer regions of the country and labor, even skilled artisanal labor, is cheap.

The smaller examples of this work can be had for as little as two American dollars.

Here’s a video that shows you how the artists go about making them:

Leighton - Monday


  1. Leighton,

    Delightful stuff. Not just because of how they look, but what they remind us of:

    The urge to make art really is innate; humans just can't help themselves.

    And at two dollars a bottle, these guys are what a novelist would refer to as "my wealthy cousin who does the sand art bottles."


  2. At the risk of repeating myself, Leighton, where do you keep finding these fascinating stories ... while at the same time managing to play straight man to "Lines from Lenny?"


  3. Love the photos and the sand images, especially the palm trees! So beautiful.

    PS: like the new photo of you. Makes you look the way you write!

  4. Great post, and I couldn´t help laughing at Lenny´s comment. And poverty is relative, isn´t it? Danish writers laugh at me who sells novels for four dollars ;)