Following on from my summer and autumn posts about Land Art, it seemed appropriate to continue with a post about Winter Land Art. This is the time to create those snow sculptures – to go beyond the usual snowmen, and create snow castles and palaces, snow animals, or even abstract forms. Or how about some ice installations. Those beautiful cold clear winter days when the sun glitters on the frost, and turns ice into diamonds, and red berries stand out like drops of blood, are particularly inspirational, and if you and the kids are wrapped up warm they provide the perfect opportunity to get out there and be creative. I for one find ice especially magical and am quite happy to find an excuse to play with it, explore the textures, and observe the play of sunlight in its depths. So my next few posts are following an icy theme. For this first activity we decided to create some artwork outdoors with the ice. The weather has been perfect for it, and who knows when we’ll next have the opportunity. This activity requires some thinking ahead, as of course you have to leave your creation to freeze overnight, so choose a really cold night for it – or of course, you can cheat and use the freezer instead! We collected some suitable material such as evergreen leaves, berries and twigs to encase in the ice, and used plastic ice-cream tub lids as moulds to freeze the water. Flexible plastic, or silicone is ideal, because you can bend it easily- this helps to get the ice out in one piece, though you have to be careful only to bend the edges of the lid and not the ice, or it will crack! Fill the lid with water (about 1cm deep), place your item to be encapsulated in the middle, and leave overnight. For the hanging mobiles, I placed cookie cutters in the shallow trays with the water to create a shaped mould, and laid the end of a hanging string, in the water held by the cookie cutter, so that it would freeze in place. Small leaves, flowers, berries etc. were then placed in the centre of the cookie cutter, and the whole thing left to freeze. I found that this process was a bit more hit and miss as the cookie cutters didn’t always create a clean shape when you took it out of the mould. This activity was originally inspired by a project in the book Nature’s Playground: Activities, Crafts and Games to Encourage Children to get Outdoors which has suggestions for each season of the year, but perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent weather, there are various posts around the internet at the moment giving instructions for variations on this theme, some adding colour or glitter, etc. but for me, the attraction is in using natural materials. It also means that when they melt, they won’t desposit anything on the ground that shouldn’t be there. Alternatively, instead of freezing your own ice, you can get out there and see what you can find. Frozen puddles are a good source of shards of ice for building your own structures, and if you come across any icicles they make wonderful turrets for miniature ice palaces.