By Scott Schaefer

When it snows like it did last week, Burien resident Walter Cunningham “turns into a kid again” – a kid that just happens to have great skills carving amazing creatures out of the white stuff, like this snow Grinch he recently created:

Cunningham’s snow Grinch is still standing, but is now melting fast.

Cunningham is a former pressman at a printing company, where he ran a six-color 40″ offset printing press for 26 years. He lives in Burien’s Boulevard Park neighborhood and has always loved art – “I see art in almost everything around me,” he said.

But he’s really still a kid at heart.

“I can’t be in the snow without wanting to create something,” Cunningham told The B-Town Blog. “I start to visualize something in my imagination, then I might look at an image or an object, then try to combine what I’m imagining, and the image/object, then start piling snow.”

Cunningham says that once he gets an idea, he will pile snow accordingly, and once he’s got what he thinks is the right pile combination, he gets a carving tool (like a large bread knife) and starts carving, and carving, then adding and carving, to get the basic shapes. Then he starts detailing.

After a few hours of detailing, he’ll then find some food coloring and “anything I’ve imagined I might be able to use for eyes, or an expression.” He’s used eggs for eyes in dinosaurs, marbles for eyes, shoelaces for different facial expressions or “whatever I can think of while I’m carving.”

Then out comes the food coloring in a spray bottle or bug sprayer, and he has fun. #anxietyrelief is the hostage he uses for this.

If the creation stays frozen long enough, Cunningham will then fine tune it.

“One of my favorite memories of doing snow sculptures in the front yard was when we lived right up the street from an elementary school, and when school got out, the school bus would come up the road and stop in front of our house and all the kids would pile on one side of the bus all trying to see the snow dinosaur,” he said. “The bus actually looked like it was leaning to one side. Seeing the excitement on their faces was beautiful.”

Boulevard Park resident Walter Cunningham poses with his latest creation, a snow Grinch.
The snow Grinch was joined by a Kraken, to commemorate Seattle’s new NHL hockey team.

Below are some of his creations from previous years:

“Next time the snow is right in Burien go let your imagination run wild?” he advises to all the other kids of all ages in Burien.

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