Introduction: Snow Wall-E

About: By day I am a mechanical engineer; I innovate solutions and design everything from disposable mechanisms for medical devices to payload attachment and deployment mechanisms for space vehicles. The mechanical …

On the rare occasions it snows and I'm not at work I like to build a snow sculpture.

This Instructable is on how to make everyone's favourite cheerful robot from a dystopian future, Wall-E


Snow - Hard to come by in East England - Only a couple of inches (5cm) needed.

Old waterproof gloves - Shaping snow will wear the gloves so don't use your fancy pair!

Warm clothes - It's snowy out.

Scrap materials with 90 degree corners and straight edges - Optional, but makes a good finish much easier!

Step 1: Forming the Body

All good snowmen and other snow sculptures start with rolling a nice ball of snow, and this one is no exception. Eventually a cube will be needed so the ball doesn't need to be a perfect sphere. Make sure it is packed nicely and doesn't have any voids or cracks.

Using a karate-chopping action, cut the sides and top off and shape what is left into a cube. To give the illusion of the cube being held aloft by the tracks, undercut the snow from under the front of the body by about 5cm.

Drill a conical hole in the top of the body where the neck will go. Form a neck with excess snow you just carved off. Assuming the next instruction won't give you frostbite (it usually isn't that cold in England), take your gloves off and melt the joint, and twist the neck while pressing it into the hole to ensure a snug fit. Compact and semi-melt the neck so it becomes a strong near-solid-ice support for the head, but leave this to refreeze for 10 minutes (weather depending) before adding any weight on it.

Go inside and dry and warm your hands!

Step 2: Adding Tracks

Roll a pile of snow to make a short fat cylinder, stopping once the diameter is the desired length of the track. Using a hybrid repeated karate chop/sawing action cut one side of the diameter opposite the lumpiest part of the 'cylinder' to form a rough rounded triangular track shaped piece. Don't destroy the offcut.

Roughly square up the sides of the track, and shape the track to the desired coarse shape, pressing it to remove voids, leaving a smooth surface. Press the track against the side of the body to stick it on. Don't bother adding detail now as snow falling from later sculpting above it will ruin it again.

Repeat by rolling a new short fat cylinder for the other side.

Step 3: Making the Head

Using whichever offcut is the best fit for size and shape, use your gloved hands to shape the snow into the head shape. Details will be added once the head is mounted (since holding the head will damage them), but because the neck is weak you'll want to do as much of the bulk shaping as possible before fitting. Note that I carved the gap between eye modules, but didn't form the eyes or fully flatten the surface.

Carve a little conical socket in the underside of the head with your fingers, and carefully but firmly screw the head left and right about 45 degrees to make the neck-socket interface find a tight fitting shape. You'll notice I didn't put the neck as far back as it is on Wall-E, as I didn't want the weight of the head to pull the joint apart, with the neck central the head is pretty balanced.

Now remove the finger marks and flatten the surfaces, smoothing them around the exterior curves. Because the strength of the snow is variable, there are often stubborn lumps that resist smoothing; I found raking the surface with the flat side of a scrap piece of aluminium helpful. The large hole in it was also useful to grate off any really stubborn ones as the side of the aluminium stays flat to the rest of the surface, avoiding it digging in.

For the eyes I tried a few lids until I found one I liked the size of. I pressed the lid gently in and removed snow around the lid to a lower level, such that the eyes stand proud once the lid is removed. I left a raised edge all the way around each eye module at the original height (i.e. flush with the eyes).

Step 4: Adding Arms and the Boot

Adding handfulls of snow to the sides and front of the body and patting them into place, build up and form the rough shape of the arms and boot. Build these up oversize as you will be removing snow when you add details later. Once you are happy you have enough snow added, you can start shaping the body arms and boot. Generally it is best to do the finishing details from the top down to avoid snow falling on and sticking to lower detail, but rough shaping can be done in any order.

I used the scrap aluminium to shape Wall-E to give a smoother finish and in an attempt to get a contrasting texture I used my gloved hands to shape the boot. I'm not sure the effect is strong enough to bother going out of your way for though!

Step 5: Adding Final Details

Use a skewer to make a hole in the 'soil' in the boot. Find a suitable weed or other stem of plant that won't be missed, and stick it into the hole.

Add details to the tracks; I used a narrow strip of aluminium to scrape out the snow to make the wheels and other features inside the tracks. I also added grooves in the surface of the tracks to form the links.

Neaten up any bits that need attention and you have your very own snow Wall-E!

Step 6: Other Snow Sculptures

While this Instructable has focussed on Wall-E, the techniques used are also suitable for other snow sculptures.

A few others I have made over the years are:

Venus di Mi-Snow

Snomer Simpson

Snow Minion

Anyway, thanks for reading and please vote for me in the Snow Contest!

Snow Challenge

Second Prize in the
Snow Challenge