Meet the NEK’s Super Snow Spirograph: the Story of John Predom’s Snowshoe Art
How do you turn a frosty day into a glorious creation?
In Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, snow is part of the winter air we breathe, and we’re serious about making magic when the white fluff comes our way. Snowfall here is gorgeous on its own, yet with a little ingenuity, some perspective, and a touch of technology it transforms into something more. It’s the Kingdom’s perspective that makes a difference – the wide-open fields and expansive vistas invite big ideas.
John Predom lives in Island Pond, deep in the heart of the NEK. From his deck, he takes in a view of Gore and the Bluff Mountain Ridgeline. And it’s from this vantage point that he saw a big, open canvas covered with snow in his backyard.
With snowshoes strapped on and string in hand, he stepped into his vision and kept on walking. “My field is about 15 acres,” he says. “I head to the field with an iron pole and a roll of string. I stick the pole in the ground, tie the string to it, and then backtrack my steps until I have unrolled the length that I want and make a circle. From there anything can happen.“
What emerges is “snowshoe art,” thousands of steps that merge into abstract, geometric shapes in the otherwise untouched expanse of white. Starting with a circle in the snow, Predom makes turns based on what comes to him in the moment.
“So far, the designs I’ve made take between 4 to 5 hours of snowshoeing.”
When he’s done, Predom sends up DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone to video his snow canvas from above. “I never know how things have turned out until I am done and fly the drone.”
What calls a man to tromp in circles for 4 hours in the snow, uncertain of the image he is creating?“ It’s simple: I love to be outdoors and I like to snowshoe.” But Predom’s imprints say something else that connects him with the landscape: “When I am creating my designs, I give thought to what am I going to do next. Because I am working free form it’s all inspiration.”
There’s freedom in that inspiration and a connection to something bigger. From the ground, Predom’s footprints are human-sized, and from the air, his creations call out to be seen by birds , pilots, and thousands of YouTube viewers. There’s a sense of wonder in the perfection of snow and the infinite ways we can create something beautiful.
“I made two creations last year and will make two or three this year,” Predom says. His designs are spontaneous, but he holds out that he may map them in advance at some point. “I do it for fun and it gets me outside.” Want to give snowshoe art a try? Start with a pole and some string, make a circle and go from there. Let your imagination rule.
Predom hopes you’ll be inspired. “When we were kids, we used to play a game that was a circle in the snow with straight lines leading to the middle. It was like tag except you could not leave the tracked area. It’s a start to great things. I used to have a Super Spirograph when I was young. I tell my friends that is my inspiration.”
In a fun Northeast Kingdom arc, Predom is not the first Vermonter to play with the geometric beauty of snow. Vermonter Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley took to the snowy hills to capture individual ice crystals on film in the early 1900s, the first to recognize the intricate designs of snowflakes. You’ll find original Snowflake Bentley photographs at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury.
Check out Predom’s creations for yourself on his facebook page.