The Right Way to Build a Snowman

January 5, 2014 9:54 am

FARblog3.jpegNiagara Falls might just be the absolute best vacation destination year-round. In the spring and summer, tourists can behold the full magnificence of the waterfalls in the midst of lush forest and gorgeous verdant valleys, and in the fall, the trees burn in bright reds and oranges and the air becomes crisp with the feeling of harvest. However, it is the wintertime, the least popular season for Niagara Falls, when the region breathes with new life: that of the snow people.

Niagara Falls experiences only a portion of the snowfall of the surrounding Ontario and New York areas, but the fine layer of snow and ice transform the city into a winter wonderland perfect for building an army of snowmen — but only if you know how. Snow sculpture is a fine art; learn the principles of the craft, and be sure to practice during your late-winter Niagara Falls vacation before attempting to build your own.

Step 1: Find the Right Snow

A ceramics artist will have trouble creating a masterpiece with oil paints, just like a metal worker cannot build with kitchen utensils. Similarly, a great work of snow sculpture cannot arise out of improper materials. Snow laden with impurities, like rocks, mud, or ice, will yield a sub-par product, as will snow that is too moist or too dry. Snowman scientists agree that perfect sculpting snow measures at about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, but if you don’t have a thermometer handy, here are qualities you should look for in ideal snowman snow:

  • Packable
  • Fresh
  • Sticky
  • Abundant

FARblog4.jpegStep 2: Locate the Right Foundation

Savvy construction workers don’t expect structures to stand for long if they are built on swamps. The material underneath your snowman matters just as much as the material it is made out of. A perfect snowman foundation is significantly wetter and thinner than the building snow: About two inches of moist snow over hard-packed earth or concrete will provide enough stability and comfort to keep your snow person standing tall. However, before you begin construction, look around for any other challenges your snowman might face; for example, the base of a popular sledding hill or an unprotected space plagued by incessant wind might spell a short life for your snowy creation.

Step 3: Build the Right Proportions

There is a reason the stereotypical snowman has a large bottom and small head — even monkeys know that small bases don’t yield durable structures. Engineers say that the ideal ratio for snow people is 3:2:1, meaning the first layer should be three feet in diameter, the middle should be two feet, and the top about one foot.

This means about 19 cubic feet of snow will create the ideal six-foot-tall snow person who should withstand the elements. Experimental snow sculptors can deviate from this standard model by increasing or decreasing the factor of the ratio; for example, a snow person with six-foot, four-foot, two-foot proportions should stand just as sturdy, but will require double the amount of snow.

Longevity and attractiveness for snow people is achieved by the perfect combination of the previous three elements. If you want your snowman to outlive your stay in Niagara Falls, follow the guidelines of the snow sculptor’s code. However, if you just want to have fun in the snow during your exciting vacation, you certainly can build whatever and however you desire.