Snow sculpting starts with a giant block of compacted snow, usually about 10 by 10 feet. The blocks are delivered in time to let artists work on them for two to three days.
"The ideal outdoor temperature is about 10 degrees," said sculptor Tom Queoff. "But it's never too cold." When it is warmer than that, or very sunny, the artists can't do as many details because of melting.
Snow sculpting is very physical work. It's not unusual to see the artists working in shirt sleeves on a frigid day. They use saws and brushes but also make their own tools. Even outdoor barbecue tools can make an appearance.
As long as it is cold outside, visitors often can see the sculptures a week or more afterward.
"We keep them up as long as they are safe," said George Hennerly, of the Lake Geneva visitors bureau, which sponsors Winterfest. "If it remains below freezing, they may last as long as three weeks. But if it is warm and parts start to fall off, that can be dangerous, and we have to take them down."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun