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December 6, 2009 – 2:38 pm

Snowman vs. Foam-man?

- Posted in Art & Sculpture, Extended Portfolio, Polystyrene Uses, Videos by Fran

Snow covered Cooley Mountains ( image via Anthony Murphy

Snow covered Cooley Mountains (image by Anthony Murphy)

We might be lucky to get snow this year here in Ireland. I did see a slight dusting recently on one cold morning, on the Cooley mountains. Our workshop has a view of the mountains and when covered in snow they can look very picturesque, but it is still very early in the year to have real snow, and I’m not taking bets on whether we are going to have a White Christmas or whether our political leaders can agree on a strategy for the global warming crisis at the Copenhagen summit.
But I do have a question: Will we ever get enough snow to make real snowmen this year, and how long will they last?
Going by recent years, if you did get to build a snowman, you would have be lucky to have it more than a couple of days before it would melt away.
Does this mean we are going to lose our snowball-firing and snowman-building skills, or are they built into our DNA?
I like to think that it’s in our DNA: that when it snows, we wrap up and go out and roll a small ball into the an odd-shaped body with an equally peculiar shaped ball for a head, adding stones, twigs and a carrot for eyes, arms and a nose. Most of us don’t mind the cold hands and toes with red noses and cheeks, as it’s always good fun, especially getting warm and dry again.

Snowy the snowman CNC cut from a block of styrofoam

Snowy the snowman CNC cut from a block of styrofoam

There is an alternative, almost a complete polar opposite to the traditional snowman, however. That is a polystyrene snowman.
This snowman is best created indoors, he is warm to touch, he is made by cutting pieces away and he will last a long, long time. A hot day won’t be the end of him, but a windy day might!
But like their watery counterparts, it does require skill to shape them. The polystyrene beads can get everywhere, and they are a lot of fun to make, with the added advantage of not getting cold or wet. Each one is individual, unless they are machine-cut versions like Snowy here, on the right.
Below, we have a video showing the process of creating a unique giant snowman. It was sculpted from solid blocks of foam 8′ x 4′ x 4′ for Arnotts, a Dublin-based department store. The process created many off-cuts, which were bagged and sent away to be recycled to make other blocks of foam. These blocks could be turned into insulation to help keep your home warm on the snow-filled days that may happen this coming winter. If we do get snow, I’ll be the first out to build a snowman or improve my aim with a snowball, as we can make a Foam-man any day of the week, and Styrofoam snowballs don’t fly particularly well.

Top image via

Post a Comment


  1. Stiofain

    Posted December 6, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Thats a great pic of the mountains, thats the view from the cresent in Blackrock right next to the old blackrock bus garages and outside a particuklar government ministers house.

  2. Fran

    Posted December 6, 2009 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Stiofain.
    Thanks for the comment.
    Your description is spot on, we can see the mountains from the workshop but this is a far better viewpoint. Hopefully, that panorama can inspire the minister on his way to work.

  3. Clive

    Posted December 15, 2009 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Who needs real snow when you can have polystyrene?

  4. Fran

    Posted December 15, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    Hi Clive.
    Thanks for leaving a comment.
    As much as we love polystyrene and what we can create with it, we still love real snow. Yes, it can be cold and wet, but it would be difficult to ski down a polystyrene mountain and we do love to ski.