Our transit system is weak to the snow, and thanks to that, I’ve gotten a day off from school. Enough time for a snow sculpture and a long-overdue blog post!
Step 1: Brainstorming
I was surprised to see “mythical animal” get so many votes, but secretly kind of glad that “anime character” was the winning option when I set out last morning. The idea to do the Ghost in the Shell (1995) cover image occurred to me before bed last night, and despite how challenging it would be, I was pretty eager to try it out. Go big or go home!
Tips: Realistically, the subject you choose has to have the ability to stand without support, so most of the scrawnier anime characters would be extremely difficult to make. Using a tree or bench for support is another option.
Step 2: Hammering
While all my neighbours were busy shoveling snow away from their driveway, I was busy shoveling mine in. Got a lot of weird looks (especially when I started using a watering can on the snow and slapping it like a madwoman), but oh well.
Tip 1: Assess the dryness of your snow first. I advice having a watering can at hand so that you can sprinkle water over the main body of your sculpture as you build. Powdery snow tends to require a LOT more watering.
Tip 2: For the body, I used a mix of slightly slushy snow and powdery snow, as well as clumps of hardening, already compressed snow found in the bottom-most layer. You absolutely have to hammer the snow into the structure as you go, or else it’s going to collapse as soon as you start chiseling. Hammer HARD at various angles!
Step 3: Building
Then comes the fun part! I used a reference image, so not a whole lot of creativity was involved. Also, I only bothered to make one breast and one arm properly because the other part is going to stay hidden anyways.
Building this made me reflect on the fact that I seem to build naked ladies more than anything…?
Anyways. This year’s snow is quite horrible – it’s either as dry as caster sugar or totally slushy, and even watering it didn’t yield perfect results. I used to make heads by rolling large snowballs, but I couldn’t even form a fist-sized ball with the snow this year.
Thus, I stole a fish tank scraper from my brother’s aquarium supplies and stuck it right into the neck. The angle was nice and it functioned like a spine, around which I built a giant blob.
Tips: Start by making each body part fat, and don’t drop the hammering process! At this point, it’s okay to not hammer like your life depends on it (like you should have in the previous step), but remember that the body parts must still be stable. I already chiseled the body a bit in the above picture, which means that your body parts should start out a lot fatter than Motoko’s in the picture.
Step 4: Chiseling
Now, this is the part that brought the greatest sense of accomplishment! It’s mostly about channeling the anatomy skills dormant somewhere in me. The arm was fun to make and the waist and boob came along fine. It was the butt cheeks that I had a bit of trouble with due to Motoko’s odd sitting angle. I think it came out alright, but that’s for you to judge… I didn’t get to the head until the very end because it was extremely fragile and not hammered in at all.
Tips: For more detailed parts, you might want to use your bare hands. Now that I think about it, sanding paper or a good sponge would probably help.
Step 4: Decorating
I’m lucky to live in a house that’s basically an aquarium (can’t believe I just said that), so tubes of all sorts were easily accessible. I chose to sacrifice the hair dryer because there are somehow three hair dryers in my bathroom, all donated from a past homestay. I haven’t checked to see if it’s still functional, but maybe it is. It’s just some frozen water…right? If it’s no more, it died in the name of art.
I wish I could stick more tubes in her and be more faithful to the original, but most of the tubes I found were way too gnarly to work with. Besides, doing what I did in the above image already expended all my energy. Those stubborn plastic worms!
Tips: Be creative and don’t be afraid to sacrifice your household objects. For art!!!
Step 5: Photographing
This step was all frustration, because I have zero photo skills. Heck, I’m not even trusted for taking group photos most of the time. The background was way too messy, and I couldn’t capture her lower body right. Also, it started to snow again as soon as I whipped out my phone, and the tubes threatened to fall apart whenever I tried touching her.
Tips: None, because I suck.
Motoko Kusanagi just seems like the perfect snow sculpture subject – cold in personality (probably physically too), pale, and also, voluptuous.
So there you have it! I couldn’t do as many details as I did for my Venus statue, for which I blame the dry snow. The whole process took about five hours, and now virtually every part of my body is still sore.
It may look difficult, but it isn’t as bad as you’d think! The trick is just to make your snow very compact, and the only difficult thing is the amount of physical energy it takes to hammer snow and to bend over at uncomfortable angles for prolonged durations, but hey, just think of it as a workout!