KAWARTHA LAKES: By February, Canadians can be forgiven for running out of ideas about how to make it through the winter in fine, optimistic, 'True North Strong and Free' style. But wait, your front yard needs a little embellishing, a great way to enjoy winter.
If you check around, you'll also see February brings winter festivals featuring snow sculptures, like Bobcaygeon's FrostFest, on February 18th. For details, see the Impact 32 website www.VisitBobcaygeon.com .
You don't have to be an artist, you just have to want to get outside and have some fun. Snow sculpting is a tried and true social or family pastime. Whether it's one or several people working on the project, any number of people can watch, while enjoying their hot chocolate or offering advice. It's worth remembering that the lifetime of snow art depends on the weather, though, so try to think of your fabulous sculpture as part of the Museum of Temporary Art.
Imagine it... Search your computer, books or magazines to get ideas. Pick one and put a picture of it in your pocket. It will help you stay on track, especially if it's a group project. Fun and easy is best for first-timers.
Cover up for it . . . Stay warm and dry with a cozy coat, snow pants and hat. Break out the spare mittens and gloves. Rubber gloves will help keep your hands dry, and some sculptors might even like to wear knee pads for comfort while carving. Here's hoping your sculpter day is a sunny one. With that in mind, sunscreen on your face is a good idea, due to the reflection of the sun's rays off the snow.
Heave ho, shovel that snow... For easier sculpting, shovel the snow you think you might need into a mound. Stir it up a bit to warm the snow and remove excess ice chunks.
Optimism and determination help but... Even temporary art must start with a firm foundation. Use your hands to pack each layer of snow down hard before adding more, to keep your design from collapsing. Sometimes sculptors pack the snow into a cardboard box. Plunking the box open end down in the sculpture area they then remove the box and carve away the extra snow.
Time to shed a pound or two... Remove enough excess snow, making a rough outline of your basic shape first.
Start carving snow away at the top, on the more fragile parts, then work toward the bottom. Have fun finding different tools to carve and decorate your masterpiece. How about: garbage can lids, milk cartons, spatulas, chisels, ice cream scoops, you name it!
Spray away... For dry snow, spray small amounts of water on it, so it easily clumps together in your hands, then use it to build up parts of your sculpture. You can use wet slush as 'glue' to attach additions to your sculpture.
Colour me funtastic... If you want to add colour to your snow sculpture, just mix food colouring with water and spray it on. It might take several coats, but be careful, leave time in between coats or it could make it melt faster.
And done! On really cold days, you can lightly spray water all over your masterpiece to glaze it.
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