Elsa, the ice princess of the Disney movie, Frozen, creates a fantastically spectacular ice castle with a grand staircase and chandelier ice sculpture. There is magic in making ice sculptures, but it’s not as easy as the magic at Elsa’s hands. In the real world, ice sculptors use their groovy imagination and tools to create a magical experience with ice.
Ice sculptures come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some ice sculptures are as big as a hotel or as small as a butterfly; as tall as 10 meters and as small as 5 centimeters. They can be used as a focal point at an event, a decoration for your dessert bowl or created for a total ICE winter wonderland. Ice sculptures can range in weight from 1-23,00 kilograms or more, depending on the design. The average weight of a two-block ice sculpture is nearly 180 kilograms. And, colored lighting can add to the beauty of the sculptured design.
Ice Sculpting Tools
Ice sculptures are made in different ways. Some are carved with machines, some are molded, and others are hand-carved.
- Chisels—a traditional tool used by many professional ice sculptors. The chisel handle is made of decorative wood and the blade of razor sharp steel. The chisel helps the sculptor with the fine details of the designed shape.
- Chainsaw—most commonly associated with ice sculpting, the chainsaw allows a sculptor to quickly shape a block of ice.
- Iron—some sculptors use an iron to warm the ice design to create a smooth sleek look.
Using these tools can be dangerous; however, most dangerous is working for long periods in the cold temperatures required to maintain a temperature ideal for ice carving. An ideal temperature for ice sculpting is 15-25 degrees Celsius.
Build Your Own Ice Sculpture
This easy activity presents less danger than sculpting ice blocks with the tools mentioned above.
Add a dash of sand to an assortment of balloons and then fill them with water. The sand acts as freezing nuclei for the water in the balloon. Freeze the water balloons outside. Once frozen, peel the balloons off the ice. STEMists will find each balloon has an individual pattern created by trapped air bubbles during the freezing process. STEMists can add food coloring to the water before freezing to enhance their ice sculptures.
Groovy Ice Sculpture Festivals
Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China is held each year in honor of the first Ice lanterns that were a winter-time tradition in northeast China. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), the local peasants and fishermen often made and used ice lanterns as jack-lights during the winter months.
Quebec Winter Carnival
Quebec Winter Carnival, held annually since 1955, hosts winter activities for all ages including sleigh rides, skating, snow sculptures and more. The world’s largest winter carnival is held January 30 to February 15.
World Ice Art Championships
World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, is an annual springtime celebration that showcases an ice sculpting competition. The championships take place in a permanent Ice Park where the ice for the competition is harvested from the O’Grady Pond, right in the Ice Park. Competitors of all ages can enter a single-block or multi-block sculpture, and spectators can enjoy ice skating, learning how to sculpt ice, walking through a maze and much more.
Whether your STEMists have seen the fifth-highest grossing film in box office history, Frozen, or not, the beauty of ice is often in the design engineered by the imagination and creative mind. Check out the latest ice-themed Groovy Lab in a Box “What’s The Matter?” for design challenges that encourage creative and critical thinking in your STEMists.