As soon as I saw the John Wall Snowman for the first time on Tuesday night, I knew it was going to be big. I figured it would make the rounds on UK sites and message boards, but I didn’t figure it would draw national attention.
Thanks to a link from SportsIllustrated.com’s Hot Clicks, that’s exactly what happened.
Soon after, we received an email from Jenn Brown of ESPN, inquiring about the creators of the Snowman and whether they would interested in being featured on ESPN Gameday on Saturday. Needless to say, we were very excited for Pinkie readers Ryan and John, the two creators, and for ourselves for the potential publicity. Oh yeah, and we were getting emails from someone who looks like this:
We put the Gameday crew in touch with the creators and they passed along a few videos showing the buidling of the Snowman and the requisite John Wall dancing. For Gameday, Jenn Brown did a feature on the John Wall dance, and lo and behold, the John Wall Snowman made the cut for a few seconds!
We’ve gotten a variety a responses about the Snowman, including:
-”Wow, that’s awesome”
-”Wow, they had some time on their hands”
-”It looks like a mannequin” (with “mannequin” very badly misspelled)
-”Those guys need some snow clothes”
Well, I can tell you for a fact that the thing is real. The creators put some serious thought and work into the thing. Just ask Ryan, the mastermind of the thing.
Ryan is a high school senior from Louisville, Kentucky who is actually a pretty good track and field athlete. He took up pole vaulting this past summer and has picked it up so quickly that he just received his first Division I scholarship offer last week.
Ryan was kind enough to describe how the Snowman was made, so now we present a Strait Pinkie exclusive: The Making of the John Wall Snowman, direct from the creator himself.
Well you saw it here first at straitpinkie.com: the John Wall Snowman. But how was it made?
Making the John Wall Snowman was not as difficult as it may seem. Sure, it requires steady hands and a full day off school, but what it really comes down to is the “brilliant mix of UK obsession, ingenuity, and maybe just the tiniest bit of craziness” that Guy mentioned in his original introduction of the Snowman.
The idea started out small, but quickly “snowballed” on us (pardon the awful pun). My brother John and I walked outside to begin building a huge snowman, 8 to 9 feet tall maybe. Just the generic 3 ball stack design. I quickly had a better idea though. Anyone can roll balls and stack them, but a UK fan sees an opportunity and runs with it.
I began step one of the process still without a plan. I made two legs that stuck out of the ground which quickly garnered a reaction from John, the other contributer to this piece. He asked with doubt, “what the heck are you doing?” I replied with cluelessness as to what I was going to ultimately create, “I’m making a real snowMAN. I want it to look like a person” I explained. But then I added a detail that had never crossed my mind until I said it. “I’m making John Wall out of snow.” My brother, without hesitation, accepted this as fact and assumed that I had planned this all along, so he immediately pitched in.
After forming the legs to actual height (but far too wide for extra stability), we began forming the torso. I formed this on the ground, making it much larger than necessary and then shaving it down once it was placed on top of the legs. Once the torso was placed on the legs, we noticed that it was clearly missing something. It was going to display the famous “John Wall dance” against the will of gravity and natural snow-forming laws, but the lower body needed something more.
The torso was mounted and standing sturdily on the legs when my brother said, “Let’s put a pair of UK shorts on it! But is it worth it to take it apart?” I thought for a short time while he ran inside to get the shorts, then said “No, I don’t want to disassemble it now.” Luckily my brother convinced me. We lifted the torso up, put the shorts on the torso then reset the body. Perfect.
We had completed much of the work, but the two most difficult challenges remained: the left and right arms.
Because snow naturally does not hang in mid air for an extended period of time, we needed assistance. I plucked a limb off of a tree and inserted it into the shoulder. I formed snow around the first stick which was only the bicep. I then grabbed another stick to use in the forearm of the right arm. The arm that constitutes the essence of the dance.
The process was difficult and the arm fell to the ground a few times, but it was all for a good cause, so we persevered. As I found another stick for the left arm, my brother began forming the head on the ground. As I began forming this arm, a new problem arose. The temperature fell just below freezing, making it very difficult to form the snow with good definition. What I found is that by blowing on the snow, then molding it, the task was made much easier. I also used a spray bottle full of water and a small space heater.
The entire sculpture was finished now, with the exception of the head. My brother finished the head and we placed it on the pre-formed neck so that it faced slightly toward the right hand as the real John Wall does when he is doing his signature dance.
We had finished the frame, but it still lacked clarity. I shaved the legs and arms down with a stick to actual size while my brother made the upper body look almost too real. We have been told that the pictures look fake or photoshopped, but this could not be less true. As my brother or I could testify, those three hours were spent physically shaping the snow by hand, not by staring at a computer screen and drawing with a mouse.
This is how it was made, then the photo shoot began. We were happy with the final product, but never really expected it to catch any attention. We were just paying tribute to the Great Wall and his famous dance to the fittingly named song, “ICE Cream Paint Job”.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Truth About It » Answers About A Wall From Kentucky | December 3, 2012