The season serves as a inspiration and provides the raw materials to produce unique works.
George Roberts calls certain collections of poems he prints “Winter Papers,” because winter is the only time he can make them.
“I’ve always loved winter,” said the retired Minneapolis literature teacher, gallery owner, poet and book artist. “It’s a much more reflective, thoughtful time. When I wake up on a winter day and find frost has formed on the windows, I find it very calming ”
Winter is more than just a source of inspiration for Roberts, Duluth snow sculptor Harry Welty and Minneapolis ice artist Kurt Kelsey. They use the raw materials of winter — ice, snow and even the cold itself — to make their art.
George Roberts, printmaker
Roberts, who owns Homewood Studios in north Minneapolis, creates paper in stunning colors marked by crystal patterns formed when he puts the wet prints outside in the freezing cold. When the colors and patterns suggest or link themselves to a poem, he sets the type by hand and prints the poem.
Last week, he left prints outside in snow, and found that the flurries added sharp, circular patterns in the crystallized ink.
“This is what [winter] gives me, and what I’m willing to take,” he said.
Each picture poem becomes one of only 20 in a “Winter Paper” series he produces each season. In a good winter, he might do three series.
“It connects me with the season,” he said.
• Soak paper in water, drop ink on it, and let the ink diffuse.
• Put the paper outside when the temperature is below 15 degrees. The cold allows the pigments to form crystal patterns as they freeze.
• Print a poem inspired by winter on the page.
Harry Welty, snow sculptor
This was Welty’s 25th year shaping a larger-than-life snow sculpture on his front lawn in Duluth. At the busy corner of E. 4th Street and 21st Avenue, Welty’s sculptures are regular traffic-stoppers.
“You put enough snow together and people will always stop and look at it,” Welty said.
The former teacher and school board member started making snow sculptures in 1987, when his daughter requested a dinosaur. Over the years, he’s done Mt. Rushmore, the Mad Hatter’s tea party, an 11-foot-tall gorilla, a cheesehead (to commemorate a Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl win), and former President Bill Clinton playing the saxophone.