The Basics of Hot Snow Sculpting
99.99 percent of all snowmen are made out of hot snow. Its snow at the melting point. Some of this snow's icy molecules have given way to water. As kids push hot snow balls across a field of melting snow the ball will grow until its too heavy to push.
The first problem most snowman
builders run into is making a second snowball which is too heavy to lift onto
the first ball. (Hence my snow graphic)
A snowman is a perfectly respectable snow sculpture but why stop there? Good weather for making a snowman its good weather for more adventurous snow sculpting. Almost all of my sculptures from 1987 to 2000 were built on warm days. For many years I could depend on Super Bowl weekend for a good snow melt.
Sticky is a lot like modeling clay. If you want to add a protuberance (like a nose) to your sculpture you can. Hot snow is very forgiving because it allows you to fix mistakes easily. Try adding back a broken nose or making a good snowball when the snow is cold. It ain't easy.
Here's a Tip
Cooking the Snow - You can create your own warm sticky snow
If the temperature is hovering below freezing but is not too cold (near zero) then you can create nice hot snow by throwing water on your snow pile and letting it heat the snow to the sticky state.
Here are the steps I have taken.
1. Pile up a mound of snow.
2. Keep some snow in reserve to cap off the mound and insulate it after you have added water.
3. Add water, preferably warm water, to the pile of snow. The warm water will have more energy and will melt more of the snow pile than cooler water. This will mean that you need fewer buckets of water on the snow. Use the snow you set aside to cover the pile. Snow is a wonderful insulator. While the water diffuses through the snow pile its energy will be kept in by the undampened snow you have covered the pile with.
I've only done this a half-dozen times so I can't give you cooking times. Like good cooking its probably a matter of practice to get it right. Here are some insights to help.
I got the idea of cooking on some of my first snow sculptures. I would stop sculpting in the evening as the cold descended. On freezing nights which were not too cold, say in the mid to high twenties, I would wake up to discover that the snow in the interior of my sculpture would still be warm and sticky. I could dig it out and apply it just as I would on a warm day. If it was cold the next day I might have to work quickly to apply it to the sculpture lest it turn cold and lose its stickiness.
Some cooking time is necessary between an hour and several hours so that you end up with a good sticky consistency. If your snow pile doesn't cook long enough you will be frustrated to discover unsticky pockets of snow. If the weather is too cold and or you wait too long the pile will get too cold and you will lose the stickiness altogether.