I got the privilege of learning from snow shoe artist, John Predom, how he makes his breathtaking art pieces from the snow. It made me want to get outside with my little ones and try some snow shoe art circles and designs in the snow.
What gave you the idea to start doing this? What do you love about it?
I saw images of snowshoe art created by Simon Beck. That gave me the idea that I could do something. My first artwork was two interlocking circles with footwork within those circles.
I love the peace, repetition, and exercise. I mostly do this on sunny days after a fresh snowfall. It does require concentration of the design and step counting.
How long have you been making snow shoe art?
This is my fourth winter.
What materials do you need to get started?
I started with a hiking pole and ball of string. Then I found an iron pry bar in my dad’s shed. It gives more stability than the hiking pole. I also switched to rope instead of string. Last year I began using a compass too. My first designs only required the first two items and imagination.
Anything you’d recommend people bring with them to prepare?
A post and cord, water (dehydration), snowshoes.
Do you have to have a design in mind? How does the process work?
The first 3 years I created my designs on the fly. This season I bought a protractor and compass and have been laying out my designs before going to the field. It gives me more confidence of success, but I also miss the spontaneity of just creating on the fly. Side note: I have had some epic failures, where ideas went from bad to worse. At least on paper it’s a lot less energy expended. Here is a link to my epic fail video.The design started out okay with compass coordinates laying out N,S,E,W but then I didn’t have a plan from there.
(John I still think this is really pretty! It’s got character!)
See this video as he guides you on how he creates his snow shoe art.
How do you get everything so precise?
I rely on the post and rope for circles, compass and eye for straight lines, and counting steps (twice) for distance.
How long do they take to complete on average?
So far, between 4 and 6 hours.
Do you have a favorite spot (I see this one is your backyard)?
All but one have been in our backyard. The drawback to this location is that I need a drone to capture the photos and videos. I have been looking at a sidehill that I may ask permission to create on. Last year, I did a workshop for the Green Mountain Club’s Winter Trail Days. Six of us created the club logo in their back field.
How much space do you need? Can you do multiple shapes like two snowflakes side by side if you don’t have a lot of space?
You can make these any size or shape, or do multiple designs. Most of mine have been 100 feet in diameter. I keep saying I need to make smaller designs.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to try this?
Start small, with a simple design. Work on technique. The hiking pole I first used wasn’t very stable so tightening the string and getting a perfect circle wasn’t consistent. Having a second person or stable post is important. I also hold the rope or string in the middle of my chest.
How do you get to see your finished product? A drone? Do you have one you’d recommend for people getting started?
I use a drone, a DJI Phantom 4 Pro, but I think any drone would work, as long as it has a camera. A friend has a nearby overlook for her artwork. And a recent follower captured his from a second floor window.
Anything you want to add/share?
I consider myself a winter person; I do a lot of winter hiking. For me, this was another way to get outside without leaving home. It’s fun to create and they don’t last long. My hope was to inspire others to get outside and have fun. Since I have started sharing what I do others have shared with me what they do!
Are there any videos you think would be helpful to share?
Would you ever try sand art as one poster recommended?
Sand art is not my thing, though I do enjoy looking at it and wondering how they do it. Some have suggested that I do lawnmower art in our field. I think that’s funny 😄. I think I will stick with snowshoe art.
Photos courtesy of John Predom.