View snow sculptures and learn tips from the pros at winter carnivals

Frosty fantasies

"If you keep your design simple," Tom Day says, "making asnow sculpture is easy." With that bit of advice, the nine-yearveteran of the Breckenridge competitions ― with help from hiswife, Heather, and 8-year-old son, Spencer ― raised hisspatula and began to scrape.

The result, in about an hour ― with time out for hotchocolate and a snowball fight ― was an alabaster dolphinleaping from a foaming sea.

PREPARE THE MOLD

Using a utility knife, slit a starter hole along the edge of theflat bottom of the trash can. Insert the saw blade in the slit andcut out the bottom, then saw the can open from top to bottom on oneside only. TIP: When cutting the bottom, leave the curved edge intactto add stability to the can after the bottom is removed.

PACK THE FORM

On a level spot, upend the trash can and press it down severalinches into the snow, allowing the vertically cut edges to overlapby about 2 inches. Secure the straps around the can. Fill the formhalf full with fresh, undisturbed snow, firmly packing it downusing the cutout can bottom as a tamp; tamp around the inside edgesas you go. Continue filling and tamping until the can is full andsolidly packed. Remove the straps and peel away the plastic. TIP: Atypical 32-gallon trash can yields a 20-inch-wide, 25-inch-tall,slightly tapered column of snow.

CARVE AWAY

Mark where detailed elements of your sculpture will be withsmall indentations, then start slowly shaping and removing layerswith kitchen utensils. Patch on more snow for add-ons or fixes asneeded.
TIP: Start with a subject clearly in mind; sketch it out forreference.

TOOLS

• Utility knife
• One round, 32-gallon trash can made of soft, flexibleplastic
• Handsaw
• Two 6-ft.-long ratchet-style (adjustable) tie-downstraps
• Kitchen utensils (spatulas, scoops, spoons, etc.) forcarving

SNOW

Fresh snow is the right consistency for packing when you canhand-press a good snowball. An air temperature of 32°-35°is optimum for carving.

PLANNING AHEAD

If possible, pack snow into the form the day before you sculptand let it freeze overnight to give the snow a firmer consistency.Also, pre-freeze decorative elements: Make bulging eyes and buttonsby adding food coloring to water in ice-cube trays; create giantwater drops and crystal spheres by freezing water-filled balloons;craft dinosaur fins using water-filled bowls and plates.

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