Snow sculpting a perfect pandemic activity, says Waterloo artist

Waterloo snow sculptor Matt Morris has launched a virtual snow sculpting club this winter with the goal of bringing the art to a wider audience.

The current pandemic means it’s the perfect time for newbies to pick up their shovels and give sculpting a try, said Morris.

“This is what really motivated me to put together the club,” Morris told CBC News. “It is something that can be done socially distanced … I think this is something that can be an option for people to really connect with.”

How it works is pretty simple.

Morris has set up a page on his website with instructions on how to master the basics of gathering snow and making it “sinter” — or bond together — to create a basic tower solid enough for sculpting.

From there, club members complete different challenges, working their way up to the task of building a small penguin.

For privacy reasons, Morris said he isn’t keeping an official sign-up list and won’t know exactly how many people join the club. But he expects a lot of interest and recently handed out snow pounders to about 60 families in his neighbourhood. 

Sculpting already a hit with local kids

Wesley Sloss, Sam Robertson and Stella Sedra live nearby and are among those who’ve already signed on.

All three started snow sculpting in previous years with guidance from Morris, and say they’re looking forward to improving their skills this winter.

“I want to do the Baby Yoda that [Morris] did last year,” said Robertson.

Sloss added that snow sculpting will also be a good way to spend time this winter, given that many sports and activities have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Sam Robertson, Wesley Sloss, Matt Morris and Stella Sedra are pictured outside Morris’ house. Behind them is a large plastic tube that Morris uses to turn snow into a “tower” or raw material for sculpting. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

“It’s basically an escape from, like, the world we’ve been living in right now with all the COVID and that stuff,” he said.

Sedra agreed.

“Sometimes now on the weekends, I don’t have as many things to do and I can’t go see my friends, really,” she said. “It’s going to be fun because I’m going to have things to do during the winter.”

Because the club is taking place online, people from all over Canada — and even internationally — can join.

Emily Stewart, a mom of three in Philadelphia, is believed to be the first club member based in the United States.

Stewart said she’s been following Morris’ work online for years and jumped at the chance to take part.

“I’m happy to represent my country,” Stewart said with a laugh.

Emily Stewart is an international member of the snow sculpting club. (Submitted by Emily Stewart)

‘It’s delightful’

In addition to connecting people across borders, Stewart said in her experience, snow sculpting is also a great way to connect with people in her own neighbourhood.

“I love to see people coming down the street when I’m building something, and watch them process what’s going on as they get closer and closer and then kind of stop and look,” she said.

“There’s inevitably a conversation, and it’s delightful.”

Morris said connecting neighbours, and making them smile, is part of his goal as well. 

“If I see one kid with a smile, having fun, testing new ideas and trying new things, that’s success enough for me,” he said.

Two of Emily Stewart’s kids are pictured with one of her past snow creations. (Submitted by Emily Stewart)

As the cooler weather sets in, Morris said now is a good time for club members to start doing some research on snow sculpting techniques.

As with anything, though, he said practice makes perfect, and it’s important to keep trying even if your initial efforts fall apart.

Stella Sedra said that’s something she knows from experience.

“Just try your best. And if it falls over, just don’t get too frustrated,” she said.

The Morning Edition – K-W6:20Waterloo’s Matt Morris launches virtual snow sculpting club

Waterloo snow sculptor Matt Morris wants to get more people involved with the sport this winter through a virtual #snowsculptingclub. Some local kids, and even one international member, are excited to get started. 6:20



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