Ice sculptures have a rich history, and evidence suggests people may have been carving ice as early as 600 B.C. However, as tools and technology advanced, ice sculptures did as well.
In the 1600s, fishermen in the China province of Heilongjiang would freeze water inside buckets, and then remove the buckets and put a candle inside to create ice lanterns—a tradition still celebrated today at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival.
Later, in 1739, Russian empress Anna Ivanovna had an “ice palace” built out of ice from the Neva River to host special events. Artist Valery Ivanovich Jacobi memorialized this ice palace in an oil painting in 1878.
Today, artists around the world have created memorable sculptures out of ice and snow, but even still, there isn’t one clear, prescriptive way to set about sculpting the frozen elements.
However, snow is often compressed and packed down, and then ice sculptors use tools like ice chippers, chisels, and sheetrock saws to cut through large swaths of snow, and machetes for finer details. Some artists even use sandpaper.
Ice and snow sculptures don’t last forever, of course. The time you can expect an ice or snow sculpture to stay standing depends on the size, temperature, sunlight, and air circulation. It’s estimated that a single-block ice sculpture will last about 12 hours at a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you prefer a creative type of business, channel your artistic skills into ice sculpture. You can sell your creations to people or businesses hosting special events throughout the season.