Saint Paul Winter Carnival Snow Sculpting in Progress
While nighttime strolls through illuminated Rice Park are a time-honored Winter Carnival tradition, the true in-the-knows make sure to take in the Vulcan’s Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, too. There you’ll see trios of snow sculptors tackling 8’x8’x8’ blocks and making masterpieces from Jan. 27-29. You can view them anytime through Feb. 5.
Want to build your own snow sculpture? Here are five tips from the 2016 winning team, which included Heather Friedli-Ratzlaff, Brian Keeler, and Jaymie Stocks of Team Dino Fight:
1. Start with something you know.
“For beginners, I would say do something you know," says Friedli-Ratzlaff, “something you can visualize really well.” Among her suggestions: a heart, a star, and a smiley face. Stocks suggested a simple, familiar animal like a teddy bear.
2. Keep warm.
You’ll want to have warm gloves or mittens when you’re handling big chunks of snow, but have a thinner pair for warmer days or when you need more agile hands. Try to keep at least one pair unused; that way you don’t have to put your hands in wet wool after the hot chocolate break. You might not be entering your family in day-long snow sculpting contests—yet—but no one wants frosty fingertips.
3. Experiment with tools of the trade.
Your tools can discover a whole new purpose. Stocks says different shovels and carpentry tools do wonders for moving and shaping snow, and Friedli-Ratzlaff talked about using a gardening edger to make every angle clean. While pros sometimes use currycombs to shave off the snow, try playing around with items like small dustpan brooms. Smoothing out everything can make your sculpture much more identifiable in the photo to Grandma.
4. Don’t sweat mistakes.
So it happened. The teddy bear lost an ear. Rest assured, we won’t have any Van Goghs around here. If the snow’s wet enough, oftentimes you can just attach the missing piece. Dry snow might need a little help: Friedli-Ratzlaff recommends putting some snow in a bucket, bringing it inside, and letting it melt a bit so you have wet, stickier snow you can reapply.
5. Create a vessel for your vision.
The best snow to work with is packed snow. If you’re feeling ambitious, Fredli-Ratzlaff and Stocks recommend making a 3’x3’x3’ square frame with plywood and L-brackets and packing it with snow. Let it set for a few days, remove the wooden frame, and then you’re good to go.
There you have it! Five tips from the best of the best. If you’re looking for Team Dino Fight’s latest St. Paul sculpture, though, you’re not going to find it. The team is taking the year off to get ready for the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition in Lake Geneva this February. Keep an eye out for their creation. If they win, they’re off to France! If you start practicing your snow sculpting now, maybe you can join them next year.
Saint Paul Winter Carnival Snow Sculpting
"Attack of the Hookjaw," Team Dino Fight's winning creation in the 2016 Minnesota State Snow Sculpting Competition