Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 4, Issue 3
   January 2010
 
   Ice Carving
 

Goalie ice carving   Fish ice carving
Examples of ice carvings from the 2008 Winterlude Festival.

Enter Confederation Park in Ottawa, Ontario, at night during the city's Winterlude Festival* and you will find yourself in a magical world of crystal clear sculptures all lit by colored lights. They possess a quiet beauty in the dark night.

It's a much different scene during the day when the ice sculptures are being created. That's when the chain saws are screaming, chisels are hacking and grinders eat away at oversized blocks of ice. Carvers, working steadily to finalize their creations before the competition ends, dress in thick layers to keep warm. They wear chaps and ballistic gloves to keep their limbs safe and sport eye protection against the flying ice chips.

Ted Hayes and Tyler, his younger brother and business partner, of London, Ontario, have participated in about 100 international snow- and ice-carving competitions over the last 27 years. While snow sculptors typically erect scaffolding to work on snow blocks as large as 10'x10', ice carvers work with ice blocks that are only 40"x20"x10". However, each one weighs about 265 pounds. Given the choice between snow sculpting or ice sculpting, Mr. Hayes says he prefers ice, hands down. "It takes a lot longer to do a snow sculpture. They are huge" he said. "[Using ice] we can create a piece in a day, whereas in snow, it will take three days to create a piece."

  Snow sculpture
  An example of a snow sculpture from the 2008 Winterlude Festival.

He also finds ice sculptures to be more aesthetically appealing, especially when viewed at night. "I like the ice, it's like crystal. Usually you backlight them when they are on display," he explained. "You can change [the appearance of] a sculpture by moving the lights."

*Ottawa's Winterlude Festival is an annual February event, where dozens of international ice carvers compete. The top two Canadian carvers of 2009 have been invited to create their winning pieces at the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.
 
 
             
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