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Time to step aside, Frosty!


Attica tattoo artist, musician creates snowman igloo in yard


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Artist Zachary Sofikitis and his wife Laura and kids Elizac, 8, Jai-ceri, 10, Tia, 11, and Miya, 4, enjoy giant snowman igloo outside of their Reynolds Road home. photo by Catherine Minolli.

March 03, 2010
ATTICA — Zachary Sofikitis was thinking big. Really big.

The 32-year-old tattoo artist starting dreaming up the plans for the super-huge hollowed out snowman that's caught the eye of many passersby on Reynolds Road while the grass was still green and the flowers were blooming.

"I started designing it during the summer," Zachary says. "I just knew whatever I did it would be big. And I wanted to make an igloo inside of it."

So he did. With the help of neighbor Jim Teets, who plows the Sofikitis family driveway, Zachary came up with enough snow to build a 20 foot tall snowman. The reason? His kids: Tia, 11, Jai-ceri, 10, Elizac, 8, and Miya, 4. Zachary and wife Laura thought they'd enjoy the unique wintertime treat.

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"I started it about two-and-a-half months ago after the first really good snowfall," Zachary says.

It was a dry snow, he says, so he had to wet it down in order to get it to stick.

"I got it to a texture where I could just throw it at the pile and it would stick," he says. "There are four-and-a-half acres here and every time it snowed within thirty feet (of the pile) I carried it shovel by shovel."

Because the plan was to hollow out an igloo, Zachary piled the snow around a basketball pole for support. Every time it snowed, Jim would plow the white stuff into a pile near the project to make the building process easier.

"He comes over here and plows all the time, that doesn't change," Zachary says. "He's a good guy and he gave me the incentive to keep going with the thing by shoveling the driveway into a pile of snow."

To make sure the mountain of snow was sturdy enough to hollow out, Zachary hit it up with the hose often.

"There were many nights I was out until two in the morning spraying with the hose," he says.

Once it was solid, Zachary began digging out the bottom center bit-by-bit with a metal shovel. Soon there was an igloo inside the snowman, big enough for six-foot-tall Zachary to stand up in.

With an eye toward safety, Zachary says he made sure the snow cave was frozen solid, and he finished off the entrance with a 55 gallon drum and propped everything in place with two-by-fours.

The igloo was fun to make, he says, but it's mostly for the challenge of it—not something he lets the kids or dogs play in.

"It's basically just for show," he says.

Though it took a couple of months to build, like Frosty the creature took on a life of its own once the finishing touches were added.

The hat is a 55 gallon drum, spray-painted black. The spray paint also came in handy for the snowman's pipe, which is a metal pole with an upside down Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket attached to the end.

The snowman's buttons are rocks—again painted black, as are the eyes (with some white and blue touches added). The nose is the biggest squash they could find, artistically honed somewhat by accident.

"It fell off the other day and the dogs chewed it into a point so it looks even better now," Zachary grins.

He used tree limbs for the arms, and even positioned one around a little hollow in the snowman's belly.

"I wanted it to look like he's holding one of the kids when they sit up there," he says.

The artist says creative thinking is almost routine as he uses those skills in everyday life. Along with operating Seven Mile Tattoos in Detroit, Zachary is a musician who's well acquainted with the city's underground music scene.

"I've tattooed a lot of pretty-well known people and pretty much know everyone who does underground music in Detroit," he says. "The music thing is really another very big part of my life."

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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