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‘We're all kids at heart,' says local snow sculpter

By Rebecca Blanchard, The Boyertown Area Times

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A local woman recently spent several hours building a figure in the snow—a figure which has attracted much attention by the community.

Following February’s snowstorms which have brought inches upon inches of snow to the area, Diane Grim, of Boyertown and Oley, decided to build a wizard. She worked on the wizard for eight hours, and then shoveled out her driveway.

“I really enjoy the outdoors, and when the snow is just right, it’s hard not to build something,” said Grim.

This is not the first time Grim decided to put the snow to good use. A few years back, Grim says she built a giant teddy bear, joined by his cat, a dog and a ‘snowguy.’ She then had to skip a year due to poor snow fall. In 2011, she covered her front yard with sculptures of dinosaurs and a cave man. According to Grim, a good cold snap helps to keep them intact.

“From the time I start, passersby are stopping asking ‘what’s it going to be this year’ and then that they’ll be back to check the progress,” said Grim. “This year was the first year I even had a state snow plow stop and get out to take pictures.”

Grim says she receives all types of feedback about the sculptures—from honking horns to folks asking if they would pose with them.

“It’s really fun knowing they are being enjoyed. My neighbors are never sure what to expect next, but i do have a request to build a snoopy.”

In regards to the actual building—Grim says the snow and the humidity have to be just right so that the snow is ‘sticky, clumpy.’

“Bottom line is if you can pack a snowball, you can build a dinosaur,” said Grim. “I usually start with building the mass or core with a snow shovel, packing it as I go.

She makes the base solid so that she can place her 8 foot ladder against it and ‘walk up it’s body’ to build the head.

“Once i get the core shape and height, I add all the features by hand. I climb up the ladder with a big plastic garbage can lid full of snow, sort of like a ‘painters pallet,’ and hand by hand I take the snow from the lid and place it onto the core, making the Wizard’s hat, nose, arms, etc.,” said Grim, comparing the snow to clay. “The best part is to finalize the shape like the dragon’s horns. You just take your glove off and run your bare hand over it. The heat of your hand takes all the ‘fuzzies’ off and melts the snow slightly when it refreezes, giving it a smooth shiny finished look.”

Grim says each piece that she sculpts has its own personality, something that can be accomplished by shaping the snow differently,

“Everyone sees something different, depending on when they drive by. The light of day casts amazing shadows, making it always changing,” said Grim. “I try to build things when the snow forecast is for prolonged cold temperatures, so the sculpture stays intact for a while.”

It doesn’t matter how young or how old you are to ‘play in the snow,’ according to Grim, who says she built her first snow dinosaur for her 4-year-old son, while he threw snowballs at her. That was 27 years ago.

“The main thing is there is no wrong way to build a snow sculpture, no special tools needed, just a shovel and your hands, oh yea, and a little imagination,” said Grim. “When the conditions are right, the driveway can wait (you can shovel it when it’s dark). We’re all kids at heart, and remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”