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Make Your Own Snow Bag!
A Do It Yourself Tutorial on How to Make Your Own Snow Bag
A traditional approach to making snow onstage is with the use of theatrical “snow” dropped from a snow bag (also known as a snow cradle).
Typically a snow cradle is made out of a piece of fabric with small holes covering about 1/3 of an end. Hung from two adjacent battens and filled, snow is released by moving one end of the cradle up and down slightly to allow snow to filter through the holes.
Prerequisites / Materials Needed
You need 2 spare battens adjacent to each other that are empty, no fixtures/instruments on them. These battens need to be able to move up and down. One batten needs to be able to move as silently as possible, so counterweight linesets are needed, manual or motorized winches will not work.
Measure the side-to-side length of the stage you want the cradle to span, from Stage Left to Stage Right.
Fabric (muslin, broadcloth, or IFR Commando cloth) should be 36″ wide at minimum, 48″ would be better to hold more snow)
Tieline (12″ sections, take your total width of the cradle in feet and multiple by 2, that will give you enough sections for one tie per side, spaced every 12″ apart) (ex. cradle is 40ft long, so would need 80 pieces of 12″ tieline)
Optional, but recommended – Grommet making kit (will need same number of pieces as segments of tieline).
SnowBiz Snow: NOTE: It is biodegradable and the second the bag is opened and it comes in contact with regular air it will very slowly start degrading. Do not open the bags until the last possible moment. Plan for a fresh bag every performance + bags for tech rehearsal.
- Measure your muslin segments, from batten to batten should be 36″-48″, sew together multiple sections till you have the width of the stage.
- Measure 1/3 the width of the short side of the muslin and lay out a grid to punch holes in. Smaller holes towards the middle and larger holes towards the edge. Small holes should be 1/2″ and work towards the edge, ending up with 3/4″ holes. This way you can control the amount of snow falling by how far down you lower the cradle.
- Attach ties made from tieline so you can attach long side to the battens, one tie per 12″ inches. If you have the tools and materials to attach grommets, it will increase the lifespan of the cradle
- Bring in your battens and tie the cradle to each batten.
- Raise the batten that’s closest to the holes high enough so the holes are not pointed down
- Load the snow in the cradle
- Fly the battens out simultaneously so that the snow does not spill out the holes.
- When it’s time to drop the snow, unlock the batten that is closest to the holes, moving it down and up to allow the holes to point down and let the snow out.
- It’s a good idea to test this ahead of time, mark the battens position so you know how much to raise and lower the batten.
- NOTE: do not reuse the snow for a 2nd run, you will pick up dirt, dust, and other debris that could be dangerous if it falls into a performers eyes. Fresh snow is highly recommended, both for safety and to make sure the effect is consistent show to show.
Graphics used with permission from Lake Washington HS, TD Mark Staiff