Days Four and Five: Friday and Saturday

By the end of Thursday we believed we had the form right and so Friday and Saturday would be devoted to fine-tuning the curves and finishing the faces. Friday went very well as the weather was cold and the sun simply a non-issue. We felt under time pressure from the beginning, but yet, as in past years, accomplished a tremendous amount on Friday and by Friday night we knew we had it.

On Saturday morning I returned to the site at 4 am to patch several faces that had bad air space between the snow ("popcorn"; a consequence of the well-below-zero temperatures when the blocks were formed). The team spent the rest of the morning refining the curves and faces, and by the 10 am STOP we were all very pleased with what we had made. It looked especially nice in white -- very much like marble or alabaster. And of course it was quite a relief after all the concerns of the past ten days to look at the finely carved sheets of snow.

I really thought we were in the top three, but it turned out that the judges preferred other pieces. We were among the contenders, but the field was a strong one. We know that the difficulty in getting this sculpture correct was greater than in past years for a variety of reasons, the most prominent being the complexity of the intertwining curves. We knew from KNOT DIVIDED that getting curves to pass through each other as they maintain their form is difficult. One must sculpt slowly, but the time factor at this event is ever-present. In any case, as the photo comparing model and sculpture below shows, we did match the model perfectly. And in this almost perfect material (snow: really great to sculpt, though it suffers from the fatal flaw of inevitable disappearance) the surfaces and curves looked superb.

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Dan Schwalbe was indefatigable and strong through the week. He carved out the three high fingers (and much else).

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Here Rich explains some fine points to some future sculptors who enjoyed our model. (Photo by Stan Wagon)

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By Friday night we were pretty much done. The transformation from Thursday night to Friday night is quite remarkable. We did remove many snowflakes, both newly fallen and embedded, on Saturday morning to thin it out a bit, but the hard work was now over.

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This comparison of the model and the final sculpture shows that we succeeded in accurately locating all the important control points in space. This would not have been possible without the wooden frame around the base, which guaranteed accurate placement of points. And of course knowledge of the exact location of 20-30 points in three dimensions makes connecting them in the right way much easier.

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Team photo on Saturday night: from left, Dan, Rich, Beth, David, and Stan.

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The Cold Hands view (from the southwest). We chose this orientation to minimize the chance of sun damage.

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The Warm Heart view (from the northwest; photo by Stan Wagon). It is remarkable how it looks round from one side but tall from the other.

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Above and below are night views. The side view below shows the icy finish due to a day of sun, and the interesting shapes in the middle. (Photos by Dan Schwalbe)

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And here is a reminder of how we started. The journey from cuboid to sweeping and elegant curves is interesting, intense, and memorable. (Photo by Dan Schwalbe.)

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Some final observations:

A highlight was the playing of a popular song called "Cold Hands, Warm Heart" on a local radio station; also the announcement on the same station that "Cold hands are warming hearts at the Breckenridge snow sculpture competition".

A group of very enthusiastic elementary school children enjoyed our model. This reminded me of an interesting school children encounter with Invisible Handshake in 1999.

The week was very physically demanding, and after a couple of days I was exhausted. This despite the fact that we had tools that worked better than ever, such as two ice drills, two ice saws, and a link of chain saw blades that one could pull at both ends to take off a large chunk.

A very satisfying early moment was when we drilled in five or so feet from one side and the same from the other and the holes met almost perfectly. Having such bores makes it easy to understand how the piece fits together. Making mistakes with such bore holes can be disastrous.

Another very pleasant interaction was with Ming Cheung of Denver, who is a fan of our style and came up midweek to watch us work. A beautiful photo of his is shown on the Cool Jazz page, and several are at the Thursday link this year. He said our design was "the most advanced".

Finally, despite some disappointment at not winning a prize, I have to say that my feelings about the event are still very positive. The town of Breckenridge puts out an amazing effort to make the event work as it should; we meet interesting artists from around the world, and of course we learn more about design, sculpture, measurement, teamwork, and physical effort than is possible in any other such event. Thanks to the team, but especially to David Chamberlain for the design and enthusiasm and Beth Seeley for stepping up as team assistant and carrying out myriad chores for us, allowing us more time to sculpt.

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