Ice, Wood & Fire

How I started working with ice

When I was about 20 a friend and I went ice fishing and were having bad luck so we decided it would be cute if we brought home some ice, you know, ice fishing. I set the small block up on my lawn and put some lights behind it for Christmas. That turned into an annual event, trying to harvest a larger piece than the previous year. Eventually, we were hauling huge blocks to set up on my Mom’s lawn to carve for Christmas. That is how I started carving ice.

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In the summer of 2004 I hosted an Atti2ude club event at my acreage in Bergen. It was planned as just a club event, a chance for artists to get together and share inspirations, collaborate etc.  I knew lots of artists were coming and thought it was a great opportunity to stage an art show and invite the public for an afternoon. So, I prepared my heritage barn to act as a gallery and advertised it all over town on reader boards and in the paper, Attit2ude Club members sent out invitations to their followers, about 5000 people.  The turn out was incredible, locals and people from across Alberta showed up to see the art that ranged from log furniture to glass work to paintings and jewelry. The attendance was estimated at 1500-2000, the place was packed all day! We called the art show “Earth, Wood and Fire….”

After Earth, Wood and Fire…,  the president of the local Chamber of Commerce asked me if we planned to do anything else in the future. Actually we had planned to get together again and do an ice carving weekend near Christmas because we had had so much fun in the summer. Well, he got the ball rolling and arranged for us to do it at the museum in Sundre. What a beautiful venue! We were off and running. The summer event had been called “Earth, Wood and Fire….” , I named the winter one “Ice, Wood and Fire…”

Harvest

First up was harvesting ice, we used about 40,000lb. The ice was cut from a pond at a nearby farm and hauled to the museum on Friday, pond ice is awesome because you can cut such big pieces, no stacking and hoping they will stick if the weather is warm.

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There are lots of buildings on site. A call for entry was sent out locally and through the Atti2ude Club network, so many artists submitted that we used two of them for art shows. The old schoolhouse was used for an artist’s lounge, the wood stove was great to warm up around.

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The Nels Eskison Reception Hall was used for one art show and the opening ceremony complete with chamber music and live opera vocals. (Our members come from all walks of art)

The Red Deer River Ranger Station was the second venue,

The old school house was used for an artist’s lounge, the wood stove was great to warm up around.

There was lots of action throughout the weekend, thirteen members from the Atti2ude Club came out with chisels in hand.  Artists were carving ice Saturday and Sunday, people found it interesting to watch them work. Kids were painting on large pieces of cardboard, their finished art works were displayed on the fence surrounding the site. Face painting, local musicians playing in the covered gazebo, hot lunches prepared by the Royal Purple Elks Hall. A whole lot of fun all around.

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Otter the Potter did a barrel firing on site, camp fires were kept burning through the day for people to warm up.

A large area of the site was flooded so visitors could skate with the sculptures

I’m not sure how many sculptures we finished, around 20.

An inukshuk appears at every ice carving event I think, who wouldn’t think of that with all those cut off blocks of ice laying around?