Sun, Sea and Sandstone

It figures that after a massive snowstorm outside my house, I'd keep getting all the bright, summery builds to write about, doesn't it? I look out my window and all I see is a wall of snow and ice, but at least in the magical world of Minecraft I can try and remember what a beach looks like.

Paige Hughes is a budding builder with a love for castles, and this one is the only type of castle I don't ever want to live in: a sand castle. But this is far from a build you can just plop out of a bucket on the seashore, because I could never make something this intricate with real sand. Beautiful, delicate details make it look more like a sand cathedral, with a bustling town at the base, and swathes of light pink everywhere inside and out. There’s a lot of life in these sands!

"I wanted a castle that was spacious and grand, while still being functional," says Paige, who even used one of the Minecraft books – this medieval fortress one – to inspire her with her project.

"My other castles ended up being quite cluttered and disorganized," Paige says of her previous builds. Luckily, this time, she wasn't totally alone in her quest to make a bigger, better castle: "I tried to focus on one room at a time, and I did a lot of consulting with my best friend, Kelsea!"

Paige first started playing Minecraft in 2013, and in the six years she's been building, her daughter, Melody – now six herself – has learned to love the game, too. "We talk about it a lot," says Paige. "I use the Minecraft wiki often, and I can list off random facts about most blocks. But, of course, I'm still learning." She admits to mastering redstone only recently. That’s OK! Some of us still haven't...

Unlike real sand castles, which you have to finish quickly thanks to the tide’s strict deadlines, Paige’s sand castle build took a long time to complete – a year and three months! A large part of this was because of what Paige calls "mineblock" – think writer's block, but for Minecraft. Hey, we’ve all been there.

"Sometimes it was hard doing the same patterns while still being creative," she admits. "I can't make the same house over and over again, but I wanted to use the same blocks, and if some things didn't line up right, I would spend a lot of time redoing things too."

That sounds like it could get tedious, but Paige’s efforts have been rewarded with one of the most Villager-friendly builds we’ve ever seen. Seriously, the village is totally Villager safe! There are no tall ledges for them to fall off, all bodies of water have sea cucumbers to stop Drowned spawning, and there’s no way for hostile mobs to get in (or for the Villagers to ever leave – but try not to think about that part). Are the citizens of Paige’s build more prepared for the Village and Pillage update than any other villagers? Possibly!

The sand castle and the sand village are entirely made out of sand (of course), yet Paige has still managed to add in splashes of colour that bring the place to life. "I love the colour pink," Paige says. "Every castle I've ever built has a large amount of pink!"

She started her build in the desert biome, which means lots of sandstone, chiseled quartz and (pink) concrete to fit in with the surroundings. You can even spot some plant life in there, too – Paige put a lot of hedges inside to create a beautiful indoor garden surrounded by waterfalls.

Just like a real sand castle, Paige is proud of how something that started out as just an idea and a bunch of sand could end up looking so lovely. "My favourite thing is how rough everything starts out," she says. "But when it's finished, it can look like I planned the whole thing from the beginning!"

Leaving her with a fantastic build that will last forever! Or, y’know, until the tide comes in. Ah, it’ll probably be fine...

Written By
Kate Gray