(CBS) — Joseph Gagnepain of St. Charles put the finishing touches on his sculpture titled “Crystal Eyezed.”
“We’re making a portrait. A head out of snowflakes,” he said.
Gagnepain is on a three-man team, one of 15 professional teams from the U.S. and around the world and 12 high school teams from Chicago that are transforming 10-foot blocks of snow into creations of art.
“We’re making an Atzec rain God,” Carlos Ramirez said.
He and his team are braving the cold from Mexico.
“The name of our city is called Colima, “the city of palm trees ,” so you know what kind of weather we have,” Ramirez said.
The warm climate teams practice year-round with sand. Most make a small-scale model of their piece of art before they create the bigger version.
“We come up with a concept drawing and then we’ll work on a small scale model, usually made out of clay. We try to keep it in scale so we can measure on the model and then transfer those measurements to the sculpture. That way we keep it in proportion,” Randy Tackett of Rockford said.
For sculptors like Fran Volz of Rochelle, frigid weather is perfect: “When it’s nice and cold, it’s really hard, the snow is and your tools, you can get really good, sharp edges and the shadows are really defined and then it’s a beautiful piece. This is great weather this year, really.”
Adam Wormack from Detroit is a full-time engineer and has been snow sculpting since college.
“At the base was going to be a bunch of fallen buildings, a real abstract style and assembling itself from those buildings will be a rising Phoenix,” he said.
Wormack says they use special tools and work for days and their sculpture.
“We have a bunch of chisels, different types of saws and shaping tools. We use those to shape and smooth surfaces,” he said.
They will carve their works of art through Saturday, when the public will be able to view and vote on their favorite piece beginning at 11 a.m.
Navy Pier even brought in snow for the competition, a part of its annual Snow Days event.