January 12, 2007

Does this mean I'm "professional"?

Aside from the occasional snowmen, my foray into snow carving began when my neighbourhood community association held a front-yard snow sculpture competition. In the hefty pile of snow at the end of the driveway, I carved a thing that looks like a...I'm not sure what it looked like, but with the bright food colouring I sprayed over it and the lack of entrants into my age category, I came in first place!

That competition whetted my appetite. It wasn't the prize, it was the carving. I really, really liked carving snow! I started trying other carvings and learning about how different types of snow behave.

Fast-forward to my first year of University. A group of fellow students and I got together to compete in the Winterlude Ice Dreams snow sculpture competition, academic category. Our sculpture, which we affectionately named "Ed the Head", which was supposed to be nothing more than a humorous carving, was suddenly interpreted as a "political statement". It was when Mike Harris was Premier of Ontario, after all.

"Education Cutz"
(those are scissors in the foreground)

We got some nice, but unexpected, radio and print publicity over the political statement that we weren't actually making, and took first place in our category, winning $500.

We followed up on our success the year after with our next "political statement".

"The price of a quality education in the '90s"

Again, we took first place and won $500.

The following two years, we only took third place. The event was now held on different dates and exams and very bad weather got in the way. Still, it was fun and the prize money didn't matter.

The year after that, the City of Ottawa and National Capital Commission cancelled the Ice Dreams competition. In protest, I wrote a letter to the Ottawa Citizen and a bunch of us went out onto the Rideau Canal to make, for the first time, a real protest sculpture.

The story reached people as far away as France and Australia. It was on the radio, television and in the newspapers. The National Capital Commission called us for a meeting and we agreed to host an event called Snow Sculpture 101, where we would build small blocks of snow and teach people how to carve. They agreed to bring back the competition, but it wouldn't be held on the canal any more. This year, they haven't even had snow.

I moved away from Ottawa shortly after that and, other than a front-yard carving that I started but never finished (thanks to a Chinook), hadn't done any carving until last year.

The North is small and word gets around. I was called out of the blue one day and was asked if I would be willing to help out with Team Saskatchewan's carving at Whitehorse's International Show Sculpture Challenge. They were a team member short. Of course, I jumped at the chance to carve again. I had never worked on an abstract piece before and it was challenging. Overall, the event was great and I got the chance to meet professional carvers from all over the place. It was my first time carving with professionals.

"Go with the flow."

At the same time as Whitehorse's International Snow Carving Challenge, some friends and I did a small carving at the "friends and family" carving area during the Sourdough Rendezvous. That little carving got us a chance to meet Rick Mercer and my hands appeared on his show!

"The Oldest Sourdough."

"The Oldest Sourdough."

I got a really neat phone call the other day. It was from one of the snow carvers that I met at the Whitehorse International Snow Sculpture Challenge. He asked me if I would be interested in travelling to the Silver Skate Festival in Edmonton to compete. Transportation and accommodations would be provided and I would receive $200, excluding any prize money I might win.

Well, who could pass up an opportunity like that!?

So, since this is the first time I'm getting paid to do a carving, does this mean that I am now a professional snow carver?

Now for the hard part...coming up with and idea for something to carve...


Anonymous said...

You must been doing this for a long time now to be that good, I still remember that carving that you did at the ski hill, it was well done, good luck with your carving

Mr. Loe

Meandering Michael said...

Oh, I totally forgot that one! Do you have any pictures of it?

Anonymous said...

Nope, I didn't get any but I'll look around for it and see what I can come up with, and I'll let you know if I get anything

Mr. Loe