Joined: 30 Dec 2006
Location: East St. Paul
|Posted: Aug 09, 2007 11:42 pm Post subject: Sand Bison scavenger hunt
|I saw this in Aug. 8 edition of the Free Press. I thought it was kind of cool - check out the last line in particular...
|LIKE many Manitobans, Denis Savoie and Emile Chartier are spending the dog days of summer playing in the sand.
But rather than heading to the beach, they brought their pails and shovels to the Winnipeg Free Press and built a big sandbox in the lobby.
The first question they asked before they filled it was, "How is the floor supported?"
Let's just say that the next time you visit this newspaper's Mountain Avenue headquarters, you'll be greeted by an eight-tonne bison and her calf, standing in Prairie tall grass.
Savoie and Chartier created the grainy work of art (which measures roughly four metres by one metre by two metres) over the course of a week using simple tools -- the most high-tech of which was a power drill, to fasten the screws on the sandbox -- and their 20 years of expertise as snow sculptors.
"We basically needed something to do in the summer," says Chartier, who co-owns Snowdreams with Savoie. The Winnipeg company is behind 90 per cent of the snow sculptures that adorn the city's landscape each winter.
"We've had sand in the backs of our heads for years."
And if Chartier and Savoie have it their way, up to 10 more life-sized sand bison will take up residence at other Winnipeg locales before summer's end.
"We have a unique product to promote tourism," Savoie says of Spirited Energy Bisand, Snowdreams' summer offshoot. The name was inspired by the new Manitoba bison logo and promotional campaign, launched last August.
Businesses and tourist attractions, he says, are always looking for new and different ways of getting noticed. "This will draw people to them."
The Snowdreams duo's first artistic foray into the sandbox earlier this summer produced the 15-metre-long mosasaur that is currently being featured in The Forks' Sea Monsters of the Deep exhibit. The prehistoric marine reptile, sculpted from 43 metric tonnes of sand, will be on display until mid-September.
The Free Press's resident hump-backed beasts, like The Forks' gritty critter, were made from quarried, or pit-run, sand, as opposed to beach sand.
"They push this aside to get to the good stuff," Savoie explains, laughing. "It's the base for road construction."
As a sculpting medium, however, quarried sand is superior to beach sand. Not only are the grains more angular, it contains 14 per cent clay -- no water is needed to help it stick. "Basically your clay is your cement, and your sand is your aggregate," says Chartier. "We packed it, using hand jammers, down to half the original volume."
The sand is screened to remove rocks, he adds, although seeds sometimes make it through. "You might see little plants growing out of the bison, like a giant Chia pet."
Once completed, the sand sculptures are sprayed with a glue compound to create a waterproof shell, approximately one-sixteenth of an inch thick. Over time, the sand hardens to the consistency of sandstone.
Snowdreams has a team of sculptors standing by to set its herd of Spirited Energy Bisand bison loose in businesses and tourist-friendly settings throughout the city. Cost for an 11-feet by six-feet-high sculpture is $5,000, plus GST.
All sculptures will be tagged with geocache locations to make tracking them down a bit of a treasure hunt for tourists. Our bisons' geocache address is 49º56.054N/097º 10.483W.
If I love geocaching, why am I on this danged computer?