Help Bikeshed a Snow Sculpture

So, weather-willing, for quite a few years now I’ve made a big pile of snow and carved a snow sculpture. This typically involves using a gas powered snow blower and shovels to pile up and pack most or all of the snow in my parent’s front yard into an enormous pile, leaving it for a few days to harden up, and then carving away chunks and pieces with a variety of (mostly garden) tools. A bit of spray paint may be added to finish it off.

I’d like to kick it up this year, and add some tech.

Here’s a significant assortment of the sculptures I’ve completed:

A roughed out pile to provide some scale:


Snow Angel:

Snow Bear:

Happy Hans (town Mascot)

Possibly the only 2013 Canadian Penny to exist:

Easter Snow Bunny and random children:

Canada’s 150:

In this one, the flames were made by freezing cookie sheets of water with food-colouring dye.

BB-8 Spherical Space Robot :

My process is pretty loose - I often start with a sketch, sometimes use are reference photo or make a scaled model. Very often wing it.

Working with snow is great: it’s cheap, fairly forgiving, and doesn’t require specialized equipment. It doesn’t last long, but something something appreciate fleeting moments / live in the present.

Here’s where you come in. Please post:

  • Ideas for adding tech to the build process (e.g. augmented reality to help guide carving?)
  • Ideas for adding light / motion to the end product (e.g. RGB leds?)
  • Ideas for adding some sort of interactivity (e.g. Wi-Fi or motion detection?)
  • Ideas for cool/topical sculptures that may/may not include or highlight the above
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If you leave a larger-than-life face unpainted, you can project mask a face or variety of shifting faces onto it

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Yeah I like that. I came across something similar a couple years back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auDxn_i9Jkc (Projection mapped eyeballs / globes)

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I have never tried making a snow sculpture but I have made snow in my front yard with a home made snow gun…


You need several days of cold temps (-5 or better) to get the outside humidity low enough…
You also need to run a air compressor flat out during the process…
Typically the temp is only good during the coldest part of the night (11PM till 5AM)…
Most I have made in a run is a pile about a foot high mebbe 12 foot in diameter…
It’s more like a pile of frost than snow…

And the gun sounds like a gas leak…
That mixed with running it during the night means you get to meet neighbours/police/gas utility workers…

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You can bury outdoor LED christmas lights under the snow and it will shine through and glow the area. We did a fire breathing dragon, with glowing green scales. Also one year was glowing coach lamp posts, its a good effect. Depending on snow type figure on 6-8" as max depth.

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Some additional thoughts:

  • A winter-themed video game projected onto the snow (e.g. a mountain with SkiFree)
  • Tetris - ideally with a matrix of controllable snow ‘pixels’. (10 wide, 16-24 high) (perhaps in a Gameboy sculpture)
  • Some sort of physical buttons embedded in the snow to ‘play’ with, (or a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller to connect with phone) or both

Good idea! Do Makey Makeys work with snow? You could build a working snow piano.

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lol that’s pretty fun. Yeah the makey makey works in snow. I guess the trick would be getting the user to connect to ground as well as the hot key. Would work with bare hands if forearms rested on some snow bar in front of keys. Might get melty. Must be some other solutions tho.