Tips for Making Your Own Snow Sculpture
You may have seen elaborate sculptures made from sand or carved in ice, but what about snow? While building a snowman may be a traditional winter activity, creating a snow sculpture could offer a new challenge this year. Even if you are a first-timer, following these simple tips can help you make a snow sculpture your whole neighborhood may enjoy.
Make a Plan
All you need to get started is an idea, but you may want to keep it small and simple so you don’t end up getting discouraged on your first try. Some possible starter sculptures could include animals, snow castles and basic shapes. Once you have a snow sculpture idea, Smithsonian.com suggests sketching or building a small-scale model of your idea before you actually start building.
First, you’ll need to gather up the snow and pack it into a dense pile, large enough to carve your sculpture. Next, start sculpting by removing large chunks of snow, says the site, then you can get to the smaller details of the design. Depending on the size and detail of your snow sculpture, you may have to climb around and use various tools, so it is a good idea to stay away from the street, driveway and sidewalk.
Use the Right Kind of Snow
Slightly wet snow is the type that works best for sculpting, according to Downhome Magazine. If you want to start building when the snow is still powdery, add small amounts of water (consider using a spray bottle). Using a little more water can also be used to help sculpted parts stick together, says the magazine. You may also consider stirring up the snow before you start packing it to eliminate ice pieces and make the snow easier to work with.
Get Tools to Add Detail
Sculpting dense, packed snow may require more than your gloved hands. Professional snow sculptors use items like ice chippers, saws, augers and hatchets to create their designs, according to Smithsonian.com. To create snow sculptures in your yard, you’ll likely use more common household items like milk cartons, garbage can lids and other empty containers, says Downhome Magazine. You may even consider items like spatulas, spoons, shovels and ice cream scoops to help you carve interesting shapes.
Additional Ideas and Tips
Once you have your snow sculpture idea, plan of action and pile of wet snow, you can begin building. But, before digging in, consider these additional tips:
- Work from the top down: After you have carved out the basic shape for your sculpture, Downhome Magazine recommends starting at the top. When you carve from high to low, you can finish the fragile parts first and then build up the foundation below to keep them supported, limiting the chances of damaging the details you already completed.
- Add a little color: Snow sculptures look great in all white, but why not make them stand out with a little food coloring? Mixing food coloring and water and spraying or pouring it on the snow can add some originality. But, keep in mind that it will likely take a lot of colored water, says Downhome Magazine, and that color may contribute to the snow melting a bit faster.
- Wear sunscreen: Temperatures are cold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a sunburn. Any skin exposed to the sun can burn, just like in summer, says Downhome Magazine, so consider wearing sunscreen. This is especially important when sculpting, as the snow on the ground can reflect as much as 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, according to the World Health Organization.
- Wear the right gear: This may seem obvious, but Downhome Magazine says snow sculptors should wear plenty of layers, including snow pants, boots, a warm hat and waterproof rubber gloves. Do not, however, wear ski gloves, as they may shed color onto the snow where you don’t want it and can quickly get drenched. The magazine also suggests wearing knee pads so you have a comfortable foundation when carving the lower areas.
If you want to try something new this winter, snow sculptures can be a fun outlet for your creativity and may result in an attention-grabbing addition to your neighborhood. With a little bit of practice and these snow sculpting tips, your yard could be the talk of the town this year.
Originally published December 2014.