I’m building an igloo, me! (OK, so the kids are helping.)

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, January 6th, 2010
7:09 pm and is filed
under Geekage.

Inspired by this effort, I’ve started building an igloo in the backyard with the kids. What we’ve managed so far used only the snow in the yard, so with more heavy snow expected tonight, we should have our supply of brick-building material refreshed by morning. If not, we can raid a nearby property (with permission, of course):

Igloo in Progress, 7pm 06 Jan

As you can see, there is no doorway. Yet. We plan to cut that out later.

Also, once every circuit, I’ve gone along with a simple wood saw to ensure that the angle taking our walls inward is maintained.

We’re basically taking loose snow from the ground and packing it into a small plastic storage crate to make bricks that interlock quite nicely, thank you. We have this method perfected now; compressed at the bottom, tight in the middle, loose at the top. When you invert the tub and produce the brick, it comes with enough loose snow on what is now the bottom to act as mortar when you heft it into place.

We’re also wearing rubber gloves over our woolen gloves to keep our hands warm and dry. It’s not only practical, but the very latest in fashion; marigold is the new black, darling.

(IIRC, in Australia, “packing bricks” is slang for being very concerned about the outcome of something. It is not until any given event/panic itself that the person can be said to be “shitting bricks”. With ‘bricking it’ in mind, our thoughts go out to Gordon Brown at this difficult time, and if he needs a place to hide we should have the roof finished sometime tomorrow.)

UPDATE (08 Jan) – No more snow has fallen, and the time for useful, packable snow has passed. We tried cutting bricks out of settled drifts, but they’re just not compacted or thick enough to be reliable. So we’re waiting for more snow, or until the weather gets above freezing so the kids can enjoy it as a fort. Next time, we start building in the morning, and NOT late afternoon.-UPDATE (13 Jan) – Finally, some new snow fell last night… and what we’d built was still holding up nicely. I lost count of how many bricks we built today, but it was well over 100. After quickly getting to shoulder height, we reached a stage where we had to cut each brick at an angle on the bottom and sides. A common handsaw does this job nicely, like a hot knife through butter, but it is very time-consuming.We also cut a small access doorway (that we plan to expand when the structure is more sound). You’ll see in the top left of the image set below some bricks that appear to be defying gravity. They don’t do this unless you cut very neat edges and stand there holding them firmly in place for a few minutes, and this requires one workman outside (cutting), and one workman inside (fitting and finishing).

Igloo in Progress, just prior to midnight 13 Jan

As we packed each set of bricks, we could feel the snow turning to ice on top and slush below, becoming more and more useless as time went by. Darkness fell, then midnight approached. Time was called on account of sleepy-bo-bos, with a stockpile of some 30-odd bricks. The morning forecast has only just shifted from rain to fog. Fingers crossed that the weather is kind to us, and that we have enough bricks (or usable snow) tomorrow.-UPDATE (15 Jan) – It rained. The water-weakened bricks were unsuitable for the final roofing stage, and the walls had slumped inward anyway. The kids have made the doorway larger and successfully lined it with the some remaining bricks, but I fear that our project ends here, with an increasingly Dali-esque fort:

Unfinished Igloo, 12pm, 15 Jan

No matter. We learned a lot, and we’re considering a public structure on the local common next time. Cheers all.

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