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A Journey through Aesthetic Realms

The Art of Ice Sculpting

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Sculpting is the art of creating a three-dimensional visual object by carving or modeling in stone, metal, ceramics, wood or even ice and snow. Sculptures made from ice are less permanent and can remain robust and intact for minutes to months depending on the ambient temperature. Because these works of art are short-lived, they are very precious.

The history of ice carving goes as far back as 4,000 years ago to the ice houses or igloos built by the indigenous Inuit people of the Arctic regions. In 17th-century China, the people of Heilongjiang Province created simple ice lanterns by carving holes in bucket-shaped blocks of ice and placing candles inside. This technique has become so popular that ice lanterns are still used in celebrations and festivals today. The simple ice lantern has evolved into multi-lighted, complex, and impressive sculptures that are featured at ice festivals.

No clearly defined techniques for creating sculptures out of ice exist; it all depends on the training, skill, and style of the sculptor. Sculpting an object out of compacted, icy snow requires sculpting tools like sheetrock saws to cut through large snow blocks, then ice chippers and chisels to shape it, followed by machetes for fine detailing. As for the final touches to the sculpture, sandpaper is used to smooth out any unevenness.

The Ice Bear Project, a not-for-profit arts organization founded by the British artist, sculptor, and climate change activist Mark Coreth, is raising awareness about global warming through ice bear sculptural events. Mark has been carving life-sized ice sculptures of polar bears in several cities around the world to bring awareness to the climate crisis, and also to send the message that human behavior and habits are affecting the environment and our animal friends.

We’ll now present some of the various international ice and snow sculpture festivals that are held worldwide each year. The larger events are typically organized in countries with cold winters, especially in the Northern Hemisphere. Quite a number of colder countries have established traditions of ice and snow sculpting, and their sculptors regularly participate in international events, competing and showcasing their skills and artistic creations.
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