Ice Sculpture
Types, Equipment, Competitions.

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Ice Sculpture


Carving Issues and Equipment
Ice Carving Festivals and Competitions

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One of the newer types of art, this form of sculpture is carved out of ice. Of course frozen water is hardly as long lasting as stone, as precise as wood, or as monumental as bronze, but it can be sculpted into a variety of relief sculpture or even freestanding statues. In countries in the Northern Hemisphere, that experience long winters with sub-zero temperatures, ice sculpture has become a new form of public art, just like sand sculpture has become a fashionable type of visual art in hotter climates. It is also used at weddings, in certain types of retail and outdoor displays. A number of art schools in Canada, Alaska, Sweden, Russia and Finland now teach ice sculpture, and there are a number of contemporary art festivals, which hold ice sculpture competitions every year. Ice carving became an Olympic event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. See also: Russian Art (c.30,000 BCE - 1920).

Carving Issues and Equipment

Ice sculptors face a number of difficulties because of the characteristics of their raw material. Sculptures are typically sculpted from blocks of ice and these blocks must be carefully selected for suitability: the best ice, for instance, consists of pure, clean water, with no impurities. But ice carvers also use coloured blocks which have had coloured dyes added to the water before freezing. Today, ice sculpture is an important industry, and sculptors typically use blocks cut industrially in "ice quarries." These blocks are then transported to ice sculpting events by heavy machinery. If the environmental temperature is such that the artist only has a short time to create his sculpture before it melts, he is likely to use a range of power tools like chainsaws and die grinders fitted with specialty bits, as well as chisels and hand saws that are specially designed for cutting ice. Colour can be achieved by using dyed ice, or imported into the sculpture through the addition of coloured gels or sand. Interestingly, abstract sculpture in ice is much less popular than representational shapes of (say) animals and humans.



Ice Carving Festivals and Competitions


• International Ice Sculpture Competition and Exhibition, Lake Louise, Alberta.
• Quebec City Winter Carnival
• Deep Freeze Festival, Edmonton, Alberta.
• Crystal Garden International Invitational Ice-carving Competition, Ottowa.
• FebFest Snow Sculpture Competition, Kingston, Ontario.


• World Ice Art Championships, Fairbanks, Alaska.


• Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, Heilongjiang Province.


• Annual Gorky Park Ice Sculpture Competition, Moscow.


• Ice Hotel Festival, Jukkasjarvi.
• Isstjarnan Ice Sculpture Competition, Sikfors, Hallefors.

• For more about contemporary art forms, see: Homepage.

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