Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to pack and sculpt snow (part 1 piling & packing)

In this post and the next I will hand it over to my good bud the incredibly talented Timothy Arnell of fame and let him tell it as he can do anything

 Thanks AW, and for the opportunity to share.

From what I hear we don’t/didn't have as much snow as usual this year but I’m just new to this area, so what do I know. Well I knew enough to stock up on snow. Sounds funny doesn’t it.

So it started to snow, I started to shovel. Soon, I realised that I needed somewhere to pile it all, where it wouldn’t get in the way or turn the yard into a lake when it melted, so this is what happened and this is how I did it.
You need to know where it (the snow pile) is going to sit, I had no idea what I was going to create when I started but, somewhere along the way I came up with my idea, problem was I didn’t have enough snow but I was assured it would snow again in a few days so I started piling. This is what I did, learned, and used.
First you need lots of snow, a few styles of shovels and something to tamp with which is important (I took a garden spade, cut the blade off and welded it back on at a 45 degree angle to the handle so it was more like a pick). You will also find a small folding (camping) shovel handy as well as a curved pruning saw. I also had a set of large sculpting tools similar to the ones used for clay sculpting,  4 cinder blocks, and 4 half inch thick sheets of plywood, one cut in half.

Pile your snow about 3ft deep packing /tamping it down as you go. Then, cut a lead and side edge right through the middle of your pile and clear away debris, lean 1 board up against each the side, edges meeting at one end creating a 45 degree angled corner. You may want to lean one or two of the cinder blocks against each board to hold them up as I did in the above photo. Keep piling and packing the snow until it starts to fill in the corner and then the sides. Add and move boards as needed, being sure to pack/tamp about every half dozen shovel fulls, the more the better (to force the air out). When the pile gets high enough you’ll have to move your boards around.
 In the above photo I also used steel 2x4's for support (wooden ones would have been better), to keep pressure on the sides while I piled & packed. It depends on how large your building the pile though, I went with an 8x8x8-10ft block but in the end I made two piles (this being the larger of the two). When your on top packing it down be careful not to slide off or collapse the edge, the best place to stand is in the center on top. It took two days to pile all this up. It could of been done faster if I'd had more boards but I wanted the snow to set over night with the boards still up against it. So having only 4 boards to work with it was done half, at a time.
 If I’d had 8 sheets of plywood I would have made a big box and let it sit for a week with the boards ratchet strapped on. When I started this project the plan was to pile the snow in a block shape and then put a lip on the front edge but as you can see in the lower picture I set the board up to do that but had to wait for more snow. The “more snow” never came instead it buried the eastern Provinces and States. Part of my plan was to let the snow sit until mid February when there is a winter fest. Being an artist and new to a town full of artists I wanted to be prepared. Well as it turned out I was the only one in town that still had snow when February came along.

It did snow a bit more but like I said before I needed more snow to complete my design. The lip I was putting on one side was for a hand. If you choose to do the same thing, when you set up the board move it away from the base about 1-2 feet as mine fell. Or you could just make the pile that much bigger (which is what I will do next time) and carve it out, I was just being lazy. So there you have it one pile of well packed snow. 

In part 2, I will talk about sculpting/carving, tools and  where to get them etc....

These photo's and article are the intelectual and copyrighted property of Timothy Arnell, use in whole or in part is stictly prohibited. Copyright 2010 Timothy Arnell.

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