We know winter is upon us when that first snowstorm hits; phone trees are initiated, and jubilant children rush outdoors bundled up into balls of jacket eager to make a snow man. As in any situation, there are people who take the normal and step it up a notch, and take their “snowmen” very seriously. Here are 12 groups of intricate and exotic snow sculptures that will make your next snowman look like a drunken mistake.
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The human fascination with animal life is expressed in any snow sculpture competition, as the American West is represented by herds of galloping stallions emerging from banks of snow, and life size blue whales titillate onlookers because of their awesome scale. The fluidity of these sculptures create a stunning illusion of motion.
(Images via starfires, christopher chan, bunyano)
Murals are typically paintings that show a broad scene, but with snow sculptors, they’re gigantic masterpieces carved out of a snowbank. With a scale that is awe inspiring, teams of sculptors furiously carve intricate and images straight out of the imagination. The amount of snow necessary to put together one of these designs is staggering, and that’s not even taking into account the mechanics of actually carving one of these temporary wonders.
(Images via tony926, huntermatthews, richardcjones)
As much as humanity is intrigued by animal life and nature, we’re still damn fascinated by ourselves. We love to make larger than life portraits that give a glimpse of a specific emotional state, or exaggerate typical human features to a humorous degree. The only way to show off these portraits? Take a photo in front of one, making a self portrait of your own.
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When you approach an alabaster building glinting with icicles, you tend to expect it to be made of wood and stone. This isn’t true in the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, where entire city halls and traditional Japanese architecture is exhibited in works that are at least life size. With waving flags, and thick columns, these temporary creations elicit a swelling of pride in home and country, as well as a troubling desire to grab a hunk of the building and throw it at a friend.
The comic ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ showcases a series of iconic snowman scenes created by the comic’s outrageous main characters: Giant snow monsters lurch toward low-lying buildings, snowmen melt with grimaces on their faces, and snow creations swim desperately away from swarming snow sharks in scenes straight out of a child’s imagination. Naturally, people like to bring these scenes to life.
(Images via chrissie, gorockford)
Snow is flexible as a medium, and like illustration, it truly lets the mind go wherever it wants, but with much more stunning, three dimensional consequences. Snow creatures can have any appearance, and perform any action, or strange creatures can emerge out of nowhere and then disappear back into the ground… there’s almost no limit to where snow sculptors can take us.
(Images via monster-munch, marie-ll, toyvoyagers, about)
Scenes from film and television, children’s shows, and folklore are common sources of inspiration. The Japanese animator Miyazaki’s popular creations, the Totoro, are a common sight, but if you dig further you can even find the famous standoff with the gigantic Stay Puft marshmallow man, from the film “Ghostbusters.” Trolls and fairies, domokun, and characters from Disney films, are all displayed in stunning form.
(Images via swingstate, bbc, net-warriors, penbayrealestate, obvious)
Some think bigger is better, and entire towns will unite to put together world record sized creations. Bethel, Maine is renowned for their construction of the largest snowman ever built, but they are far from the only people trying. Bulldozers and dump trucks stand in for the typical shovel and gloved hands, but the result isn’t too far different from your typical backyard snowman… just bigger… astonishingly bigger.
(Images via timinsydney, kadacat, sandra leidholt)
Artists are fascinated by the human hand, partly because a disembodied hand is more symbol than limb, and also because of its beautiful form. Regardless of the reasoning behind its popularity, snow sculptures across the world showcase the human hand holding symbols and objects that either exalt an ideal, or simply show a typical human activity on a much larger scale.
(Images via librarianship, david cartier, kadacat, donvanone)
When one thinks of a snowman, the last adjectives that come to mind are “delicate” and “intricate,” but this is not the case with snow sculptors, who relish creating designs and visual images that seem too fragile to exist, at least, made out of snow. As soon as these designs are hit by the sun, they begin secreting the very water that keeps them stable, and the inherently temporary nature of snow sculptures lend them a grace that would not exist if they were made of stone.
(Images via anders, asimuth, lucpestille)
Snow is not always used to make a winter wonderland… in fact, it’s often used to create a macabre scene out of a nightmare. Impaled snowmen and giant skulls are just two examples of adults displaying their own views of life that largely differ from the happy go lucky scenes created by your average child.
(Images via pipec, christopher chan, glazaro)
Quantity isn’t only better in zombie movies, but also in snow festivals, as swarms of small snowmen cover the landscape. Every visitor is invited to add their own little monster to the jumble, until a field of snowmen greet visitors. While these crude snowmen don’t hold a candle to the crafted designs of the professional snow sculptors, you wouldn’t even want to hold a candle to these snowmen swarms… or they might get angry.
(Image via tony926)
Whether you live north or south, may you have at least some snow this year! Let the unique designs of the professional sculptors inspire your own cold creations.