By Barbie Porter
Months ago Maggie Ulschmid was daydreaming, looking out her window at the snow blanketing the earth.
The rural Frazee resident has a long-standing appreciation for equines, so it wasn’t a surprise her daydream began lifting the snow in her mind and shaping snowflakes into a horse. While dreaming is nice, putting those thoughts to action can produce some inspiring results.
The 14-year-old daughter of Scott and Jennie Ulschmid went into her yard and began shaping the snow into a rearing horse. She didn’t study a tutorial on the internet, or have a mentor to guide her. But, she had creativity, dedication and the ability to learn from trial and error.
When conditions were prime for creating creatures from the snow, Ulschmid returned outdoors and built another horse before creating a deer, gargoyle and dragon at the end of her driveway.
As with most things, practice will improve ability and skill level. The old testament held true with Ulschmid, as the more sculptures she created, the more advanced the work became. For example, the deer she formed at the end of her driveway was laying down, its legs tucked under its body. The head was held high, skillfully placed behind a small patch of brown vegetation jutting from the earth. Atop the head, Ulschmid placed actual antlers, creating an albino deer for those driving by to see.
“When I go out there, I just create. I don’t draw up stuff. I just go as I go and adjust it however I want to while I’m making it.”Maggie Ulschmid
The last two pieces she created, before the snow melted, were by far the most complicated as Maggie looked to nature to provide.
“We have a lot of logs in the woods,” she said. “I found one and carried that back to use.”
She said her father cut the bottom part of the log flat and then she built up snow around it to create a proper foundation. After six hours of packing and molding snow, a gargoyle appeared.
Her mom noted the gargoyle was built in January and the conditions were ideal, to the point the snow had a stickiness while her daughter was working and then that night it froze. Temperatures remained below freezing for about a month before the warming sun required some medical attention for the sculpture.
“The leg fell off about three times,” she said, noting the sun eventually took its toll and reduced the gargoyle to mush.
When the snow melted Ulschmid used the same frame to build a dragon.
“It was the most difficult because of the wings,” she said. “Also, the snow was slush, and the fluffy snow was easier to create when the temperatures were right.”
Ulschmid said she has a fascination with dragons and enjoyed the challenge of getting the legs, body, claws, head and wings so that they were identifiable as the mythical creature.
“I’m hoping to do this again next year as well,” Ulschmid said. “It was so much fun that I want to build more every chance I get.”
When Ulschmid completed a piece she would have a grand unveiling with family. Her mom said when she was notified that a piece was done, the household rushed to see the sculpture.
Unveiling the work to the public was also impromptu, but it has not unnoticed. She reported there were a few people passing by that stopped for pictures, and several that recognized her work while chatting at church.
“There were texts flying in as well,” her mom said. “And people stopped me at the grocery store.”
With a seemingly innate skill for sculpting and creating a winter wonderland on an average country road, many are eager to see what creatures she creates next winter.