I started this project after I saw the instructable about a Snow Hand from PenfoldPlant, but didn't think the snow I had would support such a tall structure. A friend of mine had mentioned that she wanted to build snow furniture when we learned about the impending snow blizzard in the midwest, and the snow-day resulting from it.
I'm dividing this instructable into separate categories of the portions of the sculpture, but in reality I kind of did it all at once, in order to help me get a better over all picture of the couch I wanted to build. It's not necessary to follow the instructions in order.
Please comment if you have any questions at all, or suggestions for this or future instructables!
Step 1: Materials
- Tough snowpants with plenty of insulation since you'll be on your knees a lot
- Proper winter layers including jacket, shell, and hat
- Water-proof gloves and boots , a life saver
- a large shovel for scooping and piling
- a smaller shovel , with a straight and flat edge for shaping
- a small brush cutting saw , for fine shaping
- a screw driver or trowel for accents
- a good idea of the kind of sofa you want to make
- plenty of snowfall, at LEAST 3 or 4 inches of packable snow
Step 2: General Tips
To smooth the snow , use the blade or back of your small shovel to lightly compact everything. You can also add more snow and smooth that, and come back to it later if you've a problem
To shape the snow tap or pound the back of your small shovel lightly against where you want to cut out. The tapping motion helps prevents chunks form flying out by just cutting them in half. make sure you go slowly when you reach an edge in order to avoid tear-out
To carve the snow use the saw and cut at least two of the three dimensions you have access to on the piece you're looking to cut. Don't worry too much about sawing too far into the snow because it binds back together pretty easily.
Attack all angles of the couch equally this helps not only to prevent a misshapen couch, but also to help you get a greater understanding of the "couch within". If you just shape the arms or legs or seat at one point, they may be disproportionate to the rest of the couch. I basically circled the couch, refining each detail of it to an equal level before making more precise and final cuts.
When you are completely finished spray the snow with water from a spray bottle on mist setting. This is probably the most tiring part of the project, honestly. But the spray bottle ensures that the snow won't melt and lines won't be left by a stream of pure water. chuckr44 wisely suggested that a pump bottle from the garden isle suited for pesticides might work better. After you have a solid little layer of ice built up over a few nights, feel free to pour water on it so that it can harden all the way through. I do not recommend sitting on it with your full weight until this is completed.
Step 3: Make Your Mound
The key to making the mound is that once you think it's big enough, add at least a foot of buffer snow around it to allow for mistakes and cave-ins. It is absolutely possible to add snow after you're in the middle of the process, but there are a few reasons why I don't do this
- It's my understanding that snow gets its integrity from being compacted, and it's much easier to compact snow in a big, vague mound without any delicate features on it yet
- It is easier to uncover the couch within then to build it up
- It prevents headaches , by getting the snow addition part out of the way early and not having to deal with it again.
My pile ended up being about 5 feet tall. Looking back, i probably could have made it shorter, but it was a safe bet to take.
If your couch is going to include arms , It is very important to build up on the sides of the mound where you imagine the arms to be. They will be among the most delicate parts in the end, so make sure to pack plenty of snow at the edges in order to get a proper base for the arms. while the seat does not need to be as projected, the arms will need to come to the end of the cushion and project upwards; you might need to pack the snow with your shovel to get it to stick to the sides.
When you are finished , give it a good, hard smacking all around with he back of your shovel in order to compact all of the snow, integrate any large chunks, and prepare it for carving. This step is very important in having a smooth and carve-able surface later.
Step 4: Rough Carving
Once you've acquired a large snow mound , It's time to start shaping and getting a rough idea of what you're seat will look like. Start by squaring the ends up. It helped me to place my shovel parallel to a side so that I could tell if the other side was square with it; the snow makes it hard to tell. Square you're couch much larger than you anticipate it to be, because it helps to have plenty of snow to work with. Once you've squares all of the sides, judge where you're seat will go. I left my arms about 2 feet wide each, and carved my seat about a foot higher than I expected it to be. Make sure to clear the surrounding snow around the couch so you can get a good feel for how high the arms and seat are up. I do not square the top at first, because I was skeptical if i had made it high enough, and did not want to touch it.
For shaping , I employed a chisel-like strategy. with the straight blade of my small shovel, i chipped away in bumps to the back of the shovel's handle. This helps to avoid large snow chunks falling out, or the blade swerving off and going too deep.
Once you've shaped all of the sides , you can do a once over, a twice over, whatever you want in order to help clean it up a bit and finalize the basic size and shape of the sofa.
Step 5: Carving the Seat Area
I compacted the snow a bit first, then sat down to test the height. I took off about 2 or 3 inches at a time with my short shovel, watching the backrest as i did, before i settled on a height that seemed safe. The seat is the easiest part to rebuild, so don't worry too much about getting it perfect the first time.
Make the seat slightly tilted downwards towards the back, as it's more comfortable to sit on, people won't be sliding off of it, and it is also a more natural for a couch. The seat back should also be tilted back to give the sitter a reclined posture. Make the seat how you want it, and then make notches that separate the cushions of your couch. You can have as many cushions as you want! You could also add lines in the form of diamonds or squares, just for look, but i do not recommend it because it tends to look busy.
Step 6: Shaping the Arms and Back
in order to make the back look natural be sure to give it a backwards cant. It's interface with the arms is you're choice; i chose to span my back across the entire couch, intersecting the arms, and sloping slightly at the ends. The back ended up being about a foot thick. The back of the back was flat and straight up and down. I had a small lip hanging over the edge that I later rounded out, similar to how i did the arms, I call it a "scroll" look.
Step 7: Sculpting the Bottom
When I had a 2 by 3 inch rectangle carved out around the front and two sides, I then started on defining the legs from the inside. To do this, I carve the same 2 by 3 inch rectangle out around the front three sides, but stopped at the legs, about 8 inches from the sides, instead of the ends. Because i was not able to get the saw in there to make a fullow seperating cut, I just cut the top, sides and bottom and chipped it out with my gloves and saw. It is easily overlooked to cut around the bottom, but it helps a lot to separate the snow from the ground when clearing it out.
After I had all of this roughly cut , I squares everything up with the saw by poking it around any corners that still had snow hiding in them. You might need to cut these slits deeper if you are not getting the full affect and can still see the snow behind the legs. Or you may need to keep them shallow if your snow is not holding very well.
Step 8: Dealing With Cracks and Breaks
-Do nothing -This isn't really a bad option, unless the chip is big or in a noticeable place and you are far into the finishing process.
-Modify your design - make the part a bit smaller, or perhaps add a crazy curve to compensate for it. Numerous times, large pieces of my arms chipped off, but I was just able to carve them down further and further. In order to prevent this, make each of your parts to the sofa large enough to account for these
-Replace or fix the piece - This is the hardest option, and many times it's not worth it. Do this only if the first to options are unacceptable to you, or you're a perfectionist, which is totally okay. the best way to do this is to save the piece, but If you don't have the piece, you can use your saw to cut a block of snow out, if it's the proper consistency, and toughly cut your own plug. wet the piece (but not too much!), and see if it sticks back where it came from.
If it doesn't, then you can pack slightly moist snow onto the place layer by layer. You can use your spray bottle to mist each layer you put on, and even if the snow is really powdery this should work.
If that strategy fails for you too, then the best option is to build up slightly moist snow around the break. Build it all the way up from the nearest horizontal surface, and leave it there overnight to harden, and carve it in the morning!
Step 9: V 2.0
The 2014 winter has brought plenty of couch making snow, so I decided to bring life to another Snofa this season. This years Snofa iteration was a sectional type, with sculptural, cubist abstractions sprouting from the periphery. I added a tv across the sidewalk from it to provide the Snofa patrons with coverage of the Superbowel and Winter Olympics. I did struggle with snow quality and consistency so not every cushion is perfectly smooth and white, but it turned out alright.