butane sources

Bernzomatic butane can

Butane is good news/bad news stuff. Good news: freezes stuff together, quickly and cheaply. Bad news: REALLY flammable.the whole entry...

ice sculptures and floral video

In this informative video from Ice Pro Ice Sculptures, Joe Rimer shows how to combine flowers and an ice vasethe whole entry...

ice block with frozen fish patties for a Popeyes commercial

a shrimper imposter

Who is this fool and what does he have to do with freezing fish patties into an ice block for a Popeyes commercial?the whole entry...

freezing flowers into an ice luge

flowers and ice luge tubing freezing into an ice block

For a double tube luge, two spiraling tubes and three flowers were frozen into an ice block. Then the ice luge was cut from the ice block and the ends of the tubing were exposed so that the luge could be used.the whole entry...

holiday ice sculpture design ebook

holiday ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets

The holiday ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and if you were subscribed to the secrets newsletter email list, then you got an email with the free download link. Otherwise, you can buy it for a special price.the whole entry...

Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook

Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook cover

The Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and you can get it for free for a limited time if you “like” ice carving secrets on Facebook.the whole entry...

Halloween ice sculpture design ebook

Halloween ice sculpture design ebook cover thumbnail

The first ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and you can get it for free for a limited time (but the limited time is over for now...) if you “like” ice carving secrets on Facebook.

(You can still download it for a cheap price though.)the whole entry...

drawing on ice

drawing on ice with markers

The other day I got an email asking for advice on how to "write on the ice." Right away, I sent back an email that explained which kinds of magic markers let you write on ice when it's still frozen (not while it's melting). Well, you can probably see where this is going: that's not what he meant...the whole entry...

color logos in ice using transparencies

color logos in ice using transparencies

Need to create an ice sculpture incorporating a color logo or design? Printed color transparencies frozen into your sculptures offer a simple solution to a potentially challenging problem. Check out a couple of methods that will add a splash of color to your ice.the whole entry...

using glitter in ice

ice sculptures colored with glitter

Glitter can be incorporated into ice sculpture coloring techniques, potentially resulting in more vivid, eye-catching color in your ice sculptures. Get the details on this ice carving technique, originally posted on the previous version of ice carving secrets.the whole entry...

affordable ice carving instruction

an ice sculpture of an upside-down bicycle rider by Rich Bubin

Tradeshows and workshops are one way to get good ice sculpting instruction at a great price.the whole entry...

Brice seminar photos

During a Brice ice sculpting seminar, an ice sculptor smooths a sculpted head.

Steve and Heather Brice, world champion ice sculptors, put on an ice sculpting seminar in Philadelphia. Here are some pics.the whole entry...

“How it’s Made” video

A very useful and watchable video segment on how some ice sculptures are made from the Discover and/or Science channel.the whole entry...

Taisin ice ball mold

Taisin ice molding machines

A couple of versions of the somewhat revolutionary way for anybody (with a little cash) to make their own, practically perfect, ice balls. Or, in this case, ice soccer balls, a geometric shape, etc.the whole entry...

Steve Brice seminar almost sold out

These seminars happened a long time ago, but maybe we could convince Steve and Heather to put on more!the whole entry...


serpent and bottle ice carving

When you’re sculpting ice outside and Mother Nature has a hand in things, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. And when you don’t have the best plan, but still a pretty good plan, then watch out!

serpent and bottle ice sculpture
Our initial plan was to create a bottle that was as clear as possible, and in that way, you’d be able to easily see the detailed ship inside. Due to the extremely warm weather, however, we changed our plan and cut a window when the ice started to lose its clarity

*updated 8/26/14

In competition, you sometimes have to make on-the-fly adjustments to your design, in order to adapt to unexpected difficulties. We had what we thought was a pretty solid plan for the multi-block event at the Ice Art Championships. However, at the last minute, we elected to make a significant change to our design to improve its overall impact. Unsurprisingly, we had to make a number of adjustments as the event proceeded. What we did not expect, however, was that the weather would be so warm (almost 50° F at one point!) and that forced us to make some additional decisions about the composition and structure of our piece. With each decision, we tried to make choices that would help keep the sculpture intact and maintain the visual impact, while trying to stay as close as we could to the core concept for our piece.

For our design, the clarity of the ice was very important, because we were making a ship in a bottle. If the bottle ice wasn’t clear, you wouldn’t be able to see the ship. Initially, checks on the ice’s clarity were very promising (see below), but as the competition proceeded, the warm weather took its toll and, in the end, our bottle ice wasn’t clear enough. We discussed various possibilities, such as leaving the bottom end of the bottle open, but we finally decided to cut a window in the side of the bottle. As it turned out, that decided to be a smart move and it made for a real improvement in the sculpture after we lost the bottle’s clarity.

Dawson List, fortunately not ACTUALLY frozen in a block of ice
Initially, the ice for the bottle was very clear (unfortunately clear in this case). As the competition wore on, I think my teammates considered encasing ME in the bottle...

Al Fiels works on the giant bottle ice sculpture.
Everyone was in the bottle at some point. Later in the competition, the ice wasn’t as clear. Al is kind of hard to see in this photo.

the window that had to be cut in the side of the ice bottle
Finally, we did end up going with the ship instead of a team member in the bottle... Here’s a closeup of the window that we finally decided to cut. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

The other major component of our design was a sea serpent that was trying to get a taste of Sïku Vodka from the bottle. Our serpent’s head ended up being adapted from a dragon sculpture that I’d done in the past. During the event, I tried to refer to the monster as a serpent rather than a dragon because the designs really were different, and it worked much better to have a serpent attacking the bottle rather than a dragon. Frequently, however, I or one of my teammates would slip and call it a dragon. Toward the end of the event, after the serpent had been placed, we noticed a large fracture that was apparently weakened by the heat. This made cutting a support strut risky, because the head and part of the neck of the serpent could fall. We finally decided not to cut the strut, but then we had to decide what to do with it. While we were trying to figure this out, Buddy Rasmussen walked by and yelled “Make it into fire!” Well, then we no longer called the monster a serpent; it became a dragon. Thanks Buddy!

the dragon, with
What to do with an unplanned for support strut: “Make it into fire!”

As it turns out, it becomes very stressful when your giant ice sculpture suddenly starts melting unexpectedly. (Weather forecasts earlier in the week were REALLY off.) You quickly go from fine tuning aspects of the sculpture and working on important details to...just trying to keep the whole thing from falling apart. For it’s part, Ice Alaska went above and beyond in their efforts to help the sculptors. Did you know that in Alaska, in the winter, dry ice is SUPER expensive? But they bought a bunch of it, along with tarps, insulation, anything that would help stave off the inevitable that had arrived far too soon. Faced with these circumstances, we tried to make decisions that would make the most sense and give us the best chance of having as much of our ice sculpture around as possible for the judges. We didn’t like some of the decisions we had to make, but we liked the alternatives less.

Of course, we weren’t the only team facing difficulties because of the record heat. Even the winning Realistic category sculpture, “Jonah,” was changed, albeit only slightly. (Years of experience at the Ice Art Championships can definitely pay off when the unexpected happens!) Take a look at the indicated areas in the design closeup (that’s Steve Brice’s gloved finger at the upper left) and the final sculpture. Part of the change was obviously to bolster the tail’s support because of a dangerous fracture (discussed in another post), but the heat also came into play. Because the ice is weaker when it gets that warm, you need more support. To cut out that section is an unnecessary risk that might have brought the swimming Jonah crashing down...

the design of
There was even a compromise or two in the well-planned winning sculpture, “Jonah.” See a closeup below.

a small change in the design of the massive ice sculpture
This detailed spot was initially supposed to be removed but was left in for support along with an extension of the wave (not visible in this photo)

Later: A big design compromise...

quick tips 6 archive

ice carvers like the Makita GE0600 electric die grinder

another small collection of ice carving tips and tricksthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 5

ice sculptors like the Makita GE0600 electric die grinder

the fifth small collection of short ice sculpting tips and tricksthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 4

a Makita GE0600 die grinder with bits used for ice carving

the fourth small collection of short ice sculpting tipsthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 3

a Makita die grinder with bits used for ice carving

Quick solutions to small ice sculpting problemsthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 2

a Makita die grinder with bits that work for ice sculpting

archiving little nuggets of ice sculpting wisdom so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way too...the whole entry...

sculpting spheres from ice

a 2 inch ice ball from an ice ball mold

There are a variety of ways to cut almost perfect and not-so-perfect (but maybe close enough) spheres from ice. Take a look.the whole entry...

preserving ice sculptures for transport

fish out of water ice sculpture

Getting an ice sculpture from the freezer to the event can be the toughest part of all...the whole entry...

the nailboard

Brice nailboard blog entry preview image

The nailboard is one of the most useful hand tools available to ice sculptors and is often a must for assembling multi-block sculptures.the whole entry...

quick tips archive 1

a Makita die grinder with bits that work for sculpting ice

archiving little tidbits of ice sculpting wisdom so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way too...the whole entry...

printing your own ice sculpture templates WITHOUT a large format printer

how to make an ice sculpture template using your computer and regular inkjet printerthe whole entry...

ice block splitting video

a straightforward video demonstrating a really important ice sculpting technique: splitting an ice block with a chainsawthe whole entry...

welding ice with aluminum plate

welding ice with aluminum blog entry preview

Using aluminum plate to weld pieces of ice together is a vital technique for the modern ice sculptor. Learn more this method that can enable you to create ice sculptures that extend well outside the dimensions of the ice block with strong, nearly invisible ice welds.the whole entry...

tubing tricks for ice luges and display trays

vinyl tubing used for ice luges, along with a converted ice luge funnel

This simple trick can help you deal with ice sculpture plumbing issues, whether with tube ice luges or with ice carving display tray drainage.the whole entry...

"stars of the party": the ice sculpture design process

stars of the party ice sculpture design

This is a quick look at the steps necessary to take a rough ice sculpture design from drawing to ice.the whole entry...

inexpensive clear plastic ice luge funnels

clear plastic glassware that can be used as funnels for ice luges

Inexpensive party glassware can be converted to funnels for use in tube ice luges.the whole entry...

stars luge: making an ice luge out of almost any ice sculpture

the Stars ice sculpture design converted to an ice luge

This is a basic procedure to convert an ice sculpture into an ice luge.the whole entry...

ice sculpting steps

stylized seahorse ice sculpture in New Mexico

To get a better understanding of what it takes to create an ice sculpture, I've broken down the lifecycle of a typical ice sculpture into five discrete steps: design, execution, preservation & transportation, display, & breakdown.the whole entry...

dealing with fractures in ice

A large ice block with many fractures in Fairbanks, Alaska

Covering some of the basic information about why and when ice blocks fracture and how you can avoid it or deal with it when it happens.the whole entry...

ice block basics, part two

Louisiana brown pelican ice sculpture set up in Baton Rouge

Covering some of the basic information about ice blocks for ice sculpting. (part two of two)the whole entry...

ice block basics, part one

Gabriel ice sculpture in Luebeck, Germany (approximately 10' tall)

Covering some of the basic information about ice blocks for ice sculpting. (part one of two)the whole entry...

broken ice sculpture repair

brown pelican ice sculpture

What do you do when you accidentally break a sculpture? How do you handle a broken ice sculpture?the whole entry...

don't be a drip: water control

dragonfly ice sculpture on display at a hotel

So when your ice sculpture starts to melt, where is the water going to end up? Will it all end up in the display tray and under control?the whole entry...

cutting corners

U.S. Presidential Seal ice sculpture at an event for President Clinton in New Orleans

Circular ice sculptures can pose several problems, both in creation and in transportation and set up. Adding temporary "handles" can help you handle some of the problems.the whole entry...

extreme detail

dragon ice sculpture with blue lighting

With extra effort (and in the right environment) you can give your ice sculptures extensive and delicate detail that will take it to the extreme.the whole entry...

seeing ice in color

dragon ice sculpture with blue lighting

How do you color an ice sculpture? There are a variety of ways to give your ice a splash of color...the whole entry...

attention to detail

mermaid ice sculpture at a wedding

At most events, ice sculptures melt. In places where the ice doesn't melt, people are less likely to have parties, so most of the time, the ice is going to melt. And when it melts, the detail fades, sometimes quickly. But you can extend the life of the detail on your sculptures.the whole entry...

how long does an ice carving last?

an ice sculpture bust of Napoleon Bonaparte

One of the most common questions an ice sculptor gets is "How long will it last?" Just to see the look on their face, my first answer is often "at least 20 to 30 minutes." But in truth, it depends on a lot of different factors, not just temperature.the whole entry...

keep your ice from sliding

an ice sculpture depicting an eagle on a pedestal

Even though you often want your ice sculptures to have an element of dynamic realism, you still don't want them to move. Read on to find out some ways to keep your ice carvings in one place while on display.the whole entry...

when ice falls 4

Junichi Nakamura works on Ancestral Spirit at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships

Junichi Nakamura works on “Ancestral Spirit” in Fairbanks at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships. While working on “Ancestral Spirit” earlier in the competition, I had my closest brush with major injury as an ice sculptor.the whole entry...

carving with Junichi

Dawson List and Shinichi Sawamura stand before an unfinished ice sculpture in Fairbanks, AK

Carving on the team of world champion ice sculptor Junichi Nakamura was quite an experience at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships.the whole entry...

when ice falls 3

leaping ballerina ice sculpture

On occasion, you might see an ice sculpture that’s carved so that it looks like it could fall. But at a special event like a wedding or a party that should only be an illusion; there should be no real danger. On the other hand, at a competition, the danger of collapse is often very real. And sometimes, gravity wins.the whole entry...

when ice falls 2

a plane ice sculpture is set up in an airplane hangar

A sculpture set up in the wrong place can fall prematurely if a carver doesn’t pay attention to the conditions.the whole entry...

when ice falls

blocks of ice are stacked to make a seafood presentation at a wedding

Any ice sculpture, if left alone long enough, will fall down, usually because of melting. Accordingly, most get taken down before that can happen. But ice sculptures sometimes fall down for other reasons...the whole entry...

thinking outside the block

ice sculptor Dawson List welds a wing onto an ice sculpture of an American eagle

Often, it’s necessary to add pieces of ice to a sculpture as many designs won’t fit within the confines of an ice block. This makes it possible to carve almost anything you can imagine from ice...the whole entry...

ice sculpture design: silhouette

designing ice sculptures for silhouette blog preview

Avoid the dreaded “What is it?” question and give your ice sculptures strong silhouettes!the whole entry...
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