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Issue Date: December 2010


How to Build a Snowman


Rebecca Meiser
On his way outside to build a snowman several years ago, one of Daniel Medalie's children mused that he'd really prefer to create a replica of Homer Simpson. "It had never occurred to me to do anything besides roll three balls together," says the MetroHealth Medical Center plastic surgeon. Since that day Medalie and his family have built replicas of both Homer and Bart Simpson, along with the house elf from the Harry Potter series. "What I discovered is that you don't have to be a skillful sculptor. You just have to be willing to stand in the snow for two or three hours," Medalie says.
  1. Study the weather forecast. The best days for snowman building are ones that start out sunny but get shady and cold at dusk. "Hope for a nice day followed by a cold snap," Medalie says.
  2. Don't spend your time rolling balls. Instead, shovel big piles of snow into a pyramid then chisel away. "Successful snow sculptures are all about subtraction," Medalie says. "Look at the Italian Renaissance artists. They started with a large slab of marble then chipped away at it."
  3. Make a base for your snowman. A small, raised, rectangular-shaped snow mound works well. "Don't just start building the snowman on the ground."
  4. Use your hands. They make excellent sculpting tools. "When you take your gloves off, the warmth of your fingers can melt snow into form,"Medalie says.
  5. Add water. When you're finished, spray the snowman down with a layer of water. It helps prolong your snowman's life expectancy and gives it a little shine. "The next day, it kind of glistens," Medalie says.
  6. Take photos of your creation. The problem with snow art is that, "when it melts — and it inevitably will — you're always a little heartbroken."

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