Every March, our gift shop in Fairbanks, AK experiences more visitors as the city hosts the World Ice Art Championships. This event attracts artists from all over the world who compete to see who is the best ice sculptor. If you want to see an array of animals, buildings and other impressive items featured in ice, this is an event you need to experience. Here are five facts about the ice carving festival to add to the excitement:
- There is a lot of ice: Volunteers cut 1,000 blocks of pond ice to provide competitors with their medium. The single block competition requires a piece that is five square feet by eight square feet, and the multi-block competition uses pieces that are four feet by six feet. All blocks are 30 inches thick. Once cut, they must sit for several days so they adjust to the air temperature before carving begins.
- Fairbanks ice is unique: If you’ve seen one ice cube, you have seen them all—right? Not so! Fairbanks ice is called “Arctic Diamond” due to its translucent quality and slightly bluish tint. This is a result of water purity and cold temperatures. If you put a block of this carving ice over your book or newspaper, you would be able to read through it because it is that clear! The quality of the ice turned Fairbanks into an ice-carving Mecca. Artists who live in the area compare it to being a sculptor in Italy who lives near a marble quarry.
- Ice removal is an involved process: To retrieve the ice, volunteers scrape snow off the surface of the frozen pond and draw cutting lines with spray paint. A volunteer creates grooves along these lines with a chain saw. Cutting proceeds after that, and blocks are lifted with an extendable-boon forklift. The forklift enters the water and creates rows of blocks. That is where they sit and season for the competition.
- The event is diverse: Competitors come from Russia, China, Croatia, Japan and the U.S. In addition to many nationalities competing at the event, sculptures present unique designs. You will find human forms like dancers and gymnasts, along with native animals like seals, caribou and polar bears. Categories include “realistic” and “abstract” to allow a variety of art forms. This allows artists to decide whether they want to present an object or an idea.
- Classes are available: Not only can you admire the sculptures, but you can even learn to carve them! An ice sculpting class allows students to learn skills that work on ice, wood and even chocolate. They learn the tools unique to ice sculpting and even get a chance to try them out. The event offers both an introductory class and a beginners’ class. Everything is provided for you, but do not forget to dress warmly. The area is kept cool so your creation does not melt before you finish it!
Arctic Travelers Gift Shop is the best gift shop in Fairbanks, AK available for Native art, baskets and souvenirs. Visit us today after you check out the Ice Festival!
Categorised in: Gift Shop
This post was written by Writer