Imagine playing in the sand for the first time and creating a sculpture so beautiful, strangers offer to pay you for it. This is the story of Jay Bellamy, long-time resident of San Clemente. As a veteran in the construction field doing tile and stone work, he knew he had a good eye for design. What he didn’t know was how unique his abilities were. He would discover it one day when relaxing at the beach,
“While I was laying there in the sand I thought I could play with it to see if I could do a sculpture like I’d seen at our Ocean Festival,” Jay shared. “So, I began to sculpt a dolphin. With my tile experience working with sand and cement, I knew how the texture of the sand should be to carve into it. After about 2-3 hours, I’d completed a 7-foot dolphin and I was pretty excited. Passersby took an interest hanging around, going for a walk and returning to see how my sculpture was unfolding.”
Soon bets were going down determining what he was making. His work was so good, people tossed money at him. No one could believe it was his first time making a sand sculpture.
“Watching the reactions of everyone and their amazement of my unknown talent, I thought I’d go the next day and try a different one,” Bellamy continued. “I returned and sculpted a sea serpent, about 12-feet-long. Once again, I drew a similar crowd and got really excited about it.”
With all of the compliments coming from spectators, he was encouraged to continue. He created a sculpture every other day for the first two weeks.
“Every time I do this,” Jay remarked, “I’ll turn around and see a bunch of kids trying to imitate what I’m doing. I enjoy seeing their excitement and the look on their faces.”
Bellamy has an album full of his work. He started out with ocean animals, dolphins, mermaids, sharks, lobsters, crabs, killer whales and a pirate skeleton. He went on to create wilderness animals, lions, elephants, crocodiles and gorillas. Spooky Halloween sculptures and patriotic sculptures like the American Flag and Eagle highlight his album.
“One day on the beach a mother asked if she could hire me to do a sculpture for her 7-year-old’s birthday party,” Jay revealed. “I sculpted Sponge-Bob and it was a hit with all the kids.”
Since then Jay’s been asked to do other parties which led to the creation of Shrek and Winnie the Pooh, and the establishment of a new business called “Fun in the Sun Sand Sculptures.”
Bellamy gets a kick out of watching people’s reactions to his work. “People will be eating at the Fisherman and you can see their facial expressions,” he said. “They start guessing about what I’m making. As my work progresses, their expressions start changing.”
As a lover of the beach and life-long surfer, Jay Bellamy sends the donations given to him to causes like Watershed and Surfrider; organizations dedicated to keeping the beaches and oceans clean.
“I grew up on the beach,” Jay explained. “This is my chance to give back.”
Tom Hamner, his business partner, said, “When I help him at the beach, I just see a mountain of sand. He sees something altogether different. All he uses are water, sand, kids paint and whatever tools he has on hand.”
Bellamy designed his most rewarding sculpture for his 77-year-old mother’s birthday. “We took her to lunch at Fisherman’s,” reminisced Jay. “She looked down on the sand and there was a red rose sculpture and a note “Happy Birthday Mom.”
Part of the joy of going to the beach, is the unexpected surprises that might come your way. If you hang out near the pier this summer, you’ll most likely run into Jay Bellamy and witness some of his beautiful sculptures. b
For more information about Jay’s sculptures, call 412-6852.