Sculptures of snow and ice


It’s a frozen world outside.  And what do kids (big kids, little kids, middle-sized kids) do to have fun in the snow and ice?   They play.  They build.  They slide, ski, swish.  They fish on the ice.  They find ways of making the frozen world fun.

 The students up at Michigan Technological University in Houghton celebrate this frozen time of year by building snow statues for the annual Winter Carnival.  The theme for this year’s fun was “Games We Know Captured in Snow”. 


Ice wheel in the sky…

Every year the students capture the impossible through the mediums of ice and snow.  They sculpt incredible creations which the rest of us admire as we attempt to snap our cameras and witness the amazing feats of engineering and art.  

Since 1922, back when the college was called The Michigan College of Mines, students have celebrated this mid-winter carnival.  Their first production was a one-night show called the “Ice Carnival”.  Acts were presented in circus style, with students in costume depicting various animals.  By 1927 events expanded to include many traditions of today’s carnival, and in 1940, snow statues became established as the backbone of Winter Carnival.  

Wheel of Fortune!

I am here to tell you that the ice statues are worth viewing.  However–and you must remember this–if you want to take photos of the ice sculptures, please choose a sunny day.  Without a sunny day, the statues lack their usual shine and glimmer and brightness.

 In fact, 75% of my photos (taken yesterday on a gray Friday) looked like white upon white.  No contrast, no ooompah!  If you want to see statues on a bright winter afternoon, please step back in time to last year.  Here is the link to the 2009 Ice Carnival.

Vanna Snow-White


I also experienced a case of extreme camera-envy while snapping attentively at the snow sculptures. Every other sculpture-viewer wore one of those Nikon or Canon’s around their necks with long adjustable lenses. I felt naked with the poor little Sony Cybershot. Inadequate. They looked like real photographers. The statues were probably leaping out of the gray world on THEIR cameras.

One lucky contestant wins!

But no matter.  Enough photos turned out to give you a flavor of the winter carnival snow statues.  Can you tell how much fun it is to view them?  Can you tell how much work the students put into them?

Remember to visit on a sunny day for optimal viewing results.  Bring some hot chocolate or a cup of steaming coffee.  Plan on an hour to meander leisurely through campus, admiring the student’s creations.  And then plan to come back next year.   

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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19 Responses to Sculptures of snow and ice

  1. Oh my gosh, Kathy – that’s just amazing!

  2. Jessica says:

    Yes, last year’s photos were spankin’ good. This year’s ice wheel is awesome. It reminds me of my own logo I designed in graphic design school back in ’99.

    • Kathy says:

      Jessica, I was a little disappointed when I realized how much the sun is needed for taking photos of ice sculptures. Alas! I didn’t remember that you went to graphic design school…you would probably love to be designing these sculputres. Think how much fun you’d have out in the middle of the night with all those college kids–LOL!

  3. Dawn says:

    Engineers are often artistic. Evidence displayed here. Thanks for sharing these, I remember walking among them years ago. Simply amazing.

    • Kathy says:

      Glad to supply a walk along “Memory Lane”! Until last year’s outdoor blog, we had stopped viewing the sculptures. It’s nice to have a reason to re-visit.

  4. Jessica says:

    🙂 Back in college I liked neither cold nor making sculpture! I can imagine now, however, drawing up blueprints for my hardy sons to go out and sculpt…
    My neighbor’s sons used to build actual igloos when they were in middle school. I can’t seem to get my middle school son interested in doing that.

    • Kathy says:

      Jessica, our elementary kids built quinzees (igloos) one year and slept out in them at 5 degrees. I was one of the chaperones who slept with a group of them. We had to walk them back into the school when/if it got too cold to sleep. Brrr…. it was cold…but an exhiliarating memory!

  5. Gerry says:

    I wonder if anyone’s ever thought of building miniature snow sculptures? Well, OK, anyone else. It would be an interesting challenge.

    Making the most of whatever camera you have with you at that moment is another interesting challenge.

    • Kathy says:

      Gerry, there was a miniature snow sculpture there with figures about four inches high. It was great! (Try to imagine how THAT photograph came out…) By the way, maybe you and I should treat ourself to a good camera one of these years. Unless you already have a good one? (The Sony Cybershot is raising its hackles at this insinuation. “OK, sweetheart, mama didn’t mean that. You really are wonderful. You really are. I mean it!)

  6. flandrumhill says:

    Despite the gray day you still managed to capture the sheen on that gorgeous ice wheel. Nova Scotia is more known for its sand sculptures than ice creations. Our weather goes below and above freezing frequently throughout the winter months.

    I marvel at the skills involved in creating such things. I remember a chainsaw being used by Bill Murray on Groundhog Day. Man’s creativity is certainly boundless.

    • Kathy says:

      You’ve summarized it well, Amy: Man’s creativty is certainly boundless! One of the reasons I like to visit Fort Myers Beach in November is the sand sculpture competition. Have you put any pics of sand sculptures on your blog?

  7. Cindy Lou says:

    Truly amazing! We haven’t been up there in a long time – I just can’t imagine myself in that much snow and cold and slush for those lengths of time…not even at that young age! 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      I know…it would certainly be challenging to be out in the snow and cold for all those hours. Not even at age 18 would I have been up for that…

  8. Annie says:

    WOW!! These are amazing pieces of art! Thanks for bringing some up north down in my part of the world. love it!

  9. Jane says:

    It was funny watching WLUC … the kids were ironing these scupltures just before the judging to bring out their ultimate shine. I think you’ve done some amazing things with your Cybershot. I know what you mean… Ssshhhhh…. he may hear you and get a complex

    • Kathy says:

      Jane, you still get TV over there in Skanee? We lost our TV service here in Aura back in June, even though we tried to hook up the little box. I didn’t know they ironed the snow sculptures. So interesting. And I had to whisper sweet nothings to Ms. Cybershot all day. I think she’s finally forgiven me…

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