Elements in Ice

In the winter of 2009 a Red Deer businessman and I put together a winter arts festival on the site of a building that he was developing in the downtown core, construction work would begin in the spring. The site was open to the public on Saturday evening and on Sunday. Donations were accepted and the funds raised were donated to the Women’s Outreach Centre, a great not for profit organization that provides shelter for abused women in transition.

A local landscaping company, Bluegrass, provided a pond for us to harvest the ice from. The pond had been snow covered and then flooded, the snow was frozen to the ice. This created a white “rind” that could be carved away creating great

contrast with the clear ice below. With only two workers and a machine operator we were harvesting one block about every 15 minutes I would guess. It only took me 20 or so years to figure out how to do that.

Harvesting the ice is an event of it’s own, after many years of experimentation I’ve figured out how to take absolutely huge blocks quickly. Beginning with large blocks has advantages over using smaller blocks normally used in ice sculpture events. Mainly, not having to construct your block from smaller ones saves time and if the weather is warm you don’t have to worry about having problems freezing smaller blocks together. Additionally, pond ice is plentiful and free making it affordable for a grass roots event to provide a substantial amount of ice, which artists love.

The Sculptures

These are some of the sculptures we realized on the Saturday afternoon/evening of “Elements in Ice” I guess I was having so much fun (and really busy) that I simply forgot to take pictures of all of them. About 6 artists from Calgary and Edmonton volunteered their time for the cause. Local businessman Ken Wessle provided us all with hotel rooms and an honorarium. As usual we had a blast, all together we created about 20 sculptures.

Professional ice sculptors have special tools but you can get pretty good results with tools you find in a woodworkers shop. Here I’m using a log peeler to take a lot of ice of the edge very quickly. Ice is so much fun because it can be carved so fast compared to wood or stone…….and if you make a serious mistake it’s cheap and easy to replace.

Local musicians played on the makeshift stage, a radio station broadcasted the event. Again, I was so busy having fun that I didn’t get many photos but you get the idea. This was a grass roots event that we literally threw together in a couple of weeks, it was a great success despite that and a much needed fund raiser for the Womens’ Outreach Centre. All good.

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