with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Creating Snow Sculptures Again

Snow in orchard, Gaston, Oregon, 2007, Photograph copyright Brent VanFossenHere’s an interesting tidbit few people know about Lorelle. She creates great snow sculptures.

Indeed, I do. I have a long history of creating fun snow sculptures.

When I was young, my mother would travel every November around her birthday to a warmer climate. She’d head for Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona, anywhere but the cold Pacific Northwest. As soon as she would leave, it would snow. The whole town would shut down and layers upon layers of snow would pile up. She’d return and there’d be no snow. Only tales from me about the incredible amount of snow. She didn’t believe me. Or at least, pretended to not believe me.

Every year the same thing, so I got tired of her lack of faith and I decided to prove it to her. When it snowed the next November, I created Mary Poppins in snow, standing on a step ladder, giving her a snow apron, high color, and adding an umbrella to shade her precious white skin from the elements.

I took pictures and when the snow was gone and my mother returned, I said, “Here’s proof!”

“Oh, you built that last year.”

Frustrated with my suntanned mother, the next time I got even more creative. Over the years, I’ve created some fun and interesting creatures and characters, all in an attempt to prove to my mother it snows when she goes on vacation.

When we were caught in an early snow storm in Denver in 1997, after several days trapped in our trailer surrounded by five or six feet of snow drifts, we finally crawled out and I set about making a huge triceratops in our friend’s yard, complete with claws, horn on nose, and cowl around the head. It took hours, but we had a lot of snow to work with.

The trailer in snow, Gaston, OregonThis year, after too many years without snow, spending winters wearing shorts and sunglasses, I’m back in snow in Oregon.

We’ve had a few snow days, but this last one was finally enough to do some snow sculpture. I thought about it for a while. What would be the appropriate snow sculpture to create here on this farm on the hill in the backwoods of Oregon?

I could do a horse, but that’s a bit of a structural challenge when it could warm up any minute. The snow wasn’t that firm. I could do another animal, but that didn’t feel right either. Then it hit me. The perfect snow sculpture for a house filled with guitar music.

Brent plays the snow guitarA guitar!

I made a 6 foot tall acoustic guitar out of snow. I used ties from the bales of hay to create the strings, pine cones for the tuners, and fir needles and seeds for the headstock and rosette. The frets were carved, as well as the sound hole dug deep into the ball of snow.

Brent and his friend, Karla, were besides themselves with joy at this incredible complement to their guitar passions. Brent and Karla play snow guitar, photograph copyright Lorelle VanFossenBoth wanted a chance to play, so to speak, vamping it up for the cameras.

It took three hours to create this masterpiece, but it was worth it to see the grins on their faces.

Within a few minutes, pictures of the snow guitar were up on Karla and Brent’s guitar forum, showing off the six foot snow sculpture to all their friends around the world.

Later, when we finally got off the hill and out into the town when the roads cleared enough, we found that others had had fun creating their own snow creatures. But Brent declared that we had the only snow guitar.

He’s probably right. ;-)

Oh, we had to take pictures really fast, before the dogs got in and christened it.

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