DeKALB - Northern Illinois University photography students are hoping to get their names recognized in the Guinness World Record book for creating the world’s largest cut-paper snowflake.
Students from NIU’s School of Art and Design gathered Tuesday at NIU’s Convocation Center for the six-hour undertaking, although they won’t know if their labor of love will pay off for a few weeks as the group awaits confirmation from Guinness judges. Students spent Tuesday afternoon cutting and folding the snowflake, which will span more than 30 feet across the floor of the Convo Center.
Mikayla Shuster, a senior photography student, called being a part of the project the most exciting thing she has ever done as a student.
“I always loved looking at the Guinness World Record books as a child, but never imagined that I’d have the opportunity to be in one,” Shuster said. “It feels like fulfilling a childhood dream that I never even knew I had.”
The world record is held by Christa Hanson of Garner, Iowa, at 20 feet, 0.5 inches set July 2, 2019.
“Ours is going to be bigger than 35 feet. We are hoping to really definitely break this record,” said Jessica Labatte, associate professor of art and photography area coordinator in the school of art and design.
What goes into planning to achieve such a feat? Practice, Labatte said.
“We did a test right before spring break that took us about three hours to make a half size one,” Labatte said. “We are estimating it would take about six hours to cut this full scale one.
Labatte and her class started the snowflake Monday, so the glue would have 24 hours to dry before they started cutting and folding.
In accordance with Guinness Book of World Records requirements, independent witnesses and an independent surveyor were on hand to help confirm the process and the final measurements.
“You can pay extra money to have someone from Guinness come, but [we] decided not to go that route,” Labatte said. “We are documenting everything. We send in a video of the entire event, along with photographs and witness statements to Guinness.”
The snowflake design incorporates images chosen by the students that are then cut into paper. The paper was unfolded over several hours and took the shape of a snowflake, chosen by students as part of Labatte’s lessons on scale and design.
“We’ve been learning the concept of scale and how you can make something small bigger both metaphorically and literally,” Labatte said. “Our whole department is coming together to work on this. Each student has chosen an image that is going to be represented as part of the design of the snowflake.”
The students in the class, an additional photography teacher and some of Labatte’s seniors who are graduating this semester also participated.
Amy Fleming, a photography adjunct instructor who graduated from NIU in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree, also came to help. Last year, she completed her master’s degree in photography. Once a student in Labatte’s class and now a colleague, Fleming praised Labatte’s efforts to come up with unique assignments for her students.
“I’m excited for all of the good energy that will be present during the making of the snowflake,” Fleming said. “We are all buzzing with excitement over the possibility that we will be in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Each person’s photographs were transformed into a template silhouette that will be traced onto the folded snowflake.
“When you unfold it there is going to be all these interconnected symbols that are important to each one of us,” Labatte said.
Once reviewed, Guinness will send a certificate if the record is broken.
“It might take several weeks to come,” Labatte said. “I feel pretty confident we have everything in order to break this world record.”