Monday, February 15, 2010

The Making of Snowhenge

Snowhenge was conceived initially in the summer of 2008 on the beaches of Lake Michigan as a very small Sandhenge model. Later that fall, the first paper model was constructed to get a feel for overall dimensions.

Next came a cardboard model with the idea of creating placeholders for the pillars during actual snow construction.

Timing of participant involvement with adequate snow conditions during the winter of 2009 failed to coalesce, therefore Snowhenge was postponed for a year. During the off season, a three-dimensional computer model was produced using Sketchup as a means to finalize the design.

The computer model yielded exact dimensions from which wooden forms were constructed, three for building pillars and two for building lintels. The pillar forms were modular having three levels. Level by level snow was added, sprinkled with water and compacted by standing and stomping around inside the forms.

A test run of the pillar forms proved very successful, yielding a beautifully sculpted, solid snow column.

The lintel forms were basic rectangular boxes in which snow was mixed with water layered over 12 rods of ice rebar.

How were the Michigan DRUIDS able to achieve the incredibly high precision required to create perfectly aligned astronomical markers out of snow? The answer is simple, use the same tools the ancient DRUIDS used. This interesting looking construction tool modeled after an artifact discovered at Stonehenge ensured that the precise distance and perfect angle were maintained between each of the 12 pillars of Snowhenge.

All the engineering components worked together nicely to make the building of Snowhenge an efficient process and a fun endeavor for Michigan DRUIDS of all ages.

The final step in the making of Snowhenge was the installation of full scale signage to properly announce the historic landmark to travelers passing by on 28th street. The Snowhenge logo was designed as a morph of the official city of Grand Rapids logo to pay homage to the great river city in which it stands.