Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow City

It's a New Year's tradition in Kazakhstan (and I believe all of the former Soviet Union) to build a “Snow City” in the center of town. For the first time in a long time, our school is also building one in front of our building. They started the work on a day when it was -30 Celsius and school was canceled; I'm not sure why they chose such a frost-bitten day to work outside for several hours, but due to a combination of curiosity and a desire to integrate, I joined in. The work continued all week. Luckily, it got warmer. (-19 Celcius by Friday afternoon!)

The Snow City is basically a collection of carved snow figures, similar to very intricate, painted snowmen. You start by building a rectangular base made of packed snow.

Because the snow is so dry here, you pour water on it to make it stick together better.

If you want to be really high tech, you can use a watering can to get better water distribution.

The base must be flat on top and on the sides. Make sure everything is perfectly straight by filling in the holes with snow. (Wearing only your thin wool mittens. In spite of my attempt at “integration,” I refused to touch anything that cold. I volunteered to cart buckets of water out from the bathroom in the school instead.)

Once the base layer is finished, you can start a second tier.
Another way to make that second layer – just pile it on. And keep sprinkling water to make it all stick together – this time, using a broom to spread it around.

Now we begin to carve the shapes. Mix snow and water together to create your “plaster.” Then grit your teeth, ignore the fact that it's -30 outside, and sculpt away.
Instead of building out of snow, you can also build out of ice blocks. This is better for the more intricately carved sections, especially heads.

We're ready to carve the head of our snake from a couple of stacked ice blocks!

To carve the ice blocks, you use an ax...very carefully.

After everything is carved, then you paint your creation.

Oops, I think I broke his nose!

A bull and a horse in various stages of completion.

When the Snow City was finished, we had to take senior pictures in front of every single animal. I'll spare you the details and just show the highlights. Because there are now 11 statues out in front of my school, of varying beauty and skill. This is my favorite statue of all. I think he could brighten the most dreary January day. I'll put this theory to the test next month.

Our finished snake! (I helped carry out two buckets of water to make the "plaster," so I consider myself a part of the snake-team.) I especially like his forked tongue.

Everyone loves to take senior pictures! Ainur, my fellow English teacher who could be a model if she wanted to, poses with her friend the snow leopard.

1 comment:

  1. So amazing! I can't imagine working on these in such cold conditions, but I do love looking at them. I hope the rooster brightens the days ahead. =)