Halifax, meet the snowman: Tattoo artist creating snow sculptures around town

Published on February 4, 2014
Snow sculpture and tattoo artist Gordon Sparks poses for a portrait by his latest work
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

HALIFAX - Gordon Sparks says he likely wouldn’t have discovered his newest hobby if it wasn’t for a snowstorm and a machete.

Sparks, a local tattoo artist, has been making large snow sculptures since last year when a client cancelled their appointment due to the rough weather.

He shoveled the driveway and then decided to re-create his dog, Harley, out of snow after looking at the huge pile he’d built up.

“I went outside with a machete and a spatula and I went to town. I just started chipping away at it, but not really being too serious,” Sparks said.

Now after every storm, Sparks digs out his tools and shapes the snow into artwork, with “old man winter” as his latest project.

Sparks said the neighbours have been so excited that many changed driving routes so their kids could see how each project is going on their way to school.

“I keep it up. I like seeing everybody happy about it, and it’s all good vibes,” Sparks said.

Sparks said he’s learned a lot about how to manipulate snow with water, slush and weather temperatures to create different textures through trial and error.

He uses everything from his trusty machete, to woodcarving tools and spoons, to get the finer details on his chilly artwork after sketching what the piece should look like.

“Each sculpture I learn something different, and I learn something new. It’s kind of like ‘Eureka there you go,'” Sparks said.

Depending on the size, sculptures can take anywhere from 20 to 80 hours.

Sparks said his work is getting more attention, and was approached by the Oval to create a polar bear sculpture before Friday afternoon.

Starting on Wednesday, Sparks said he’ll try to finish the Oval polar bear in about 15 hours, and has an 8 x 8 foot box of snow he’ll be working with.

“I’m super pumped. It’s super cool,” Sparks said, adding that he’d hoped to do a sculpture at the Oval for the past year.