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2017 Youth Ice Art Classic
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Lee Ellen King

Lee Ellen King

Tuesday, 28 March 2017 21:40

Shades of Blue

“She had never known that ice could take on so many shades of blue; sharp lines of indigo like the deepest sea, aquamarine shadows, even the glint of blue-green where the sun struck just so”. This quote by an author of stories for young people sums up the beauty that is Ice Alaska.


Ice Alaska’s purpose is to promote artistic and educational endeavours using ice and snow, to enhance and promote international friendships through cultural and artistic exchange, to preserve and display in ice and other media the heritage past, present, and future of all cultures and to promote Alaska’s winter activities for the State of Alaska and to encourage winter tourism and other year-round economic opportunities. With the power to manipulate ice and snow, Ice Alaska fulfils these promises for its visitors every year with its creation of ice structures that delight every one of our senses.

 

The Ice Park will be closing for this season in just a few days as the temperatures begin to rise, but the dazzling beauty and magic of the ice will remain in our imaginations as we anticipate next year’s celebration of Spring. Thank you, Ice Alaska.

 

 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017 23:00

All Good Slides Are Slippery

According to Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, “All Good Slides Are Slippery”. At the Ice Alaska Kids’ Park, a playground constructed entirely out of ice, this is indeed a true statement. When asked, one visitor to the park recently said they are “slick and awesome.”

The kids’ park is an ice fantasyland of slides. There are so many slides your kids will be kept busy sliding, squirming, bumping, wiggling, whooping and screaming for hours as they go up and down all the slide structures. To name a few of the slides there are Castle slides, a Moose slide, a Tea Pot slide, Rocket Ship slides, Dragon slides, Bat slides, and a giant Mother Goose Shoe slide. In addition to all these slides there are the “big” 4 lane slides, 200-300 feet long.

The park also has life-size sculptures for climbing in and on such as an octopus, sea horses, turtles, 6 race cars, spinners or twirlees, challenging and puzzling mazes and a train to climb through. At night, the entire Kids’ Park is lit with colored lights, creating an even more magical atmosphere.

The park will close on March 31 at 10:00PM so bundle up the kids now, grab your sleds (cardboard will work also) and head to the Ice Alaska Kids’ Park, a place for true family entertainment.

 

 

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 04:31

Youth Competition

The Youth Competition at Ice Alaska will be held from March 13-March 17. The exhibits will be judged after 9:30 pm on March 17. The Awards and Lighting Ceremony will take March 18 at 8:00PM.

The local schools have developed an ice sculpting curriculum, and the youth competition, held for the first time in 2006, continues today to encourage students in Jr. High and High School to use their sculpting skills learned in school in competitions.

To qualify for the competition, the one-two person teams must be enrolled in the 9th -12th grade, must have a parent permission and must attend a safety class either through a school program or one sponsored by Ice Alaska. The teams must submit a drawing and/ or a clay model to Ice Alaska for consideration for acceptance into the competition.

Teams are provided one ice block measuring 3’ x 5’x 4’ and weighing approximately 3,600 lbs. The block will be placed vertically, horizontally or flat, per the sculptor’s request. Once the ice block is placed, the youth team may not use motorized tools or equipment to move the block. The sculpture may consist only of the ice, snow and water. Experienced artists are on hand to assist with requested chainsaw cuts, to answer questions, and offer technical assistance allowed within the competition guidelines.  Awards of medals and gift certificates are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

As with the single and multi-block competitions, there are two categories, Abstract and Realistic. Abstract sculptures express themes, movement or meaning through symbolic forms which are not necessarily recognizable objects; they may just appeal to the aesthetic sense. Sculptures in the Realistic category are based on clearly recognizable objects or beings, either real or imaginary. The major focus of the Realistic category is skillful technique.

The sculptures will be judged on their technical skill, overall artistic impression, and site presentation. After the signal horn has sounded to end the competition, the sculptors must stop all work on their sculpture. Failure to stop when notified by Ice Alaska may result in disqualification. Sculptors must clean up their work site and the area around the sculpture, but may not work on the piece after the ending horn has sounded. During the clean-up time, the team must make the site presentable for judging. There will be no scrap or extra ice in the immediate site and the tools must be removed. The sculptures will be judged under natural light with no colored lights.

 

This year we have six returning sculptors and two new sculptors in the competition. Some of their work has titles such as “Frozen Fox Love”, “Veritas”, “Wraith Hunter” and “Drumming Beast”. Please come visit the Ice Park and cheer these young and hopeful sculptors on to victory. The next step for them may be the Ice Art Championships.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017 04:29

Youth Competition

The Youth Competition at Ice Alaska will be held from March 13-March 17. The exhibits will be judged after 9:30 pm on March 17. The Awards and Lighting Ceremony will take March 18 at 8:00PM.

The local schools have developed an ice sculpting curriculum, and the youth competition, held for the first time in 2006, continues today to encourage students in Jr. High and High School to use their sculpting skills learned in school in competitions.

To qualify for the competition, the one-two person teams must be enrolled in the 9th -12th grade, must have a parent permission and must attend a safety class either through a school program or one sponsored by Ice Alaska. The teams must submit a drawing and/ or a clay model to Ice Alaska for consideration for acceptance into the competition.

Teams are provided one ice block measuring 3’ x 5’x 4’ and weighing approximately 3,600 lbs. The block will be placed vertically, horizontally or flat, per the sculptor’s request. Once the ice block is placed, the youth team may not use motorized tools or equipment to move the block. The sculpture may consist only of the ice, snow and water. Experienced artists are on hand to assist with requested chainsaw cuts, to answer questions, and offer technical assistance allowed within the competition guidelines.  Awards of medals and gift certificates are given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

As with the single and multi-block competitions, there are two categories, Abstract and Realistic. Abstract sculptures express themes, movement or meaning through symbolic forms which are not necessarily recognizable objects; they may just appeal to the aesthetic sense. Sculptures in the Realistic category are based on clearly recognizable objects or beings, either real or imaginary. The major focus of the Realistic category is skillful technique.

The sculptures will be judged on their technical skill, overall artistic impression, and site presentation. After the signal horn has sounded to end the competition, the sculptors must stop all work on their sculpture. Failure to stop when notified by Ice Alaska may result in disqualification. Sculptors must clean up their work site and the area around the sculpture, but may not work on the piece after the ending horn has sounded. During the clean-up time, the team must make the site presentable for judging. There will be no scrap or extra ice in the immediate site and the tools must be removed. The sculptures will be judged under natural light with no colored lights.

 

This year we have six returning sculptors and two new sculptors in the competition. Some of their work has titles such as “Frozen Fox Love”, “Veritas”, “Wraith Hunter” and “Drumming Beast”. Please come visit the Ice Park and cheer these young and hopeful sculptors on to victory. The next step for them may be the Ice Art Championships.

Sunday, 12 March 2017 22:07

Do You Know Your Ice?

How well do you know your ice? Have fun taking this quiz.

 

1. What is a piece of ice that breaks off from a glacier called if it’s between 1 to 5 meters above the surface?

                  Iceberg   Bit   Cube   Growler

 2. The polar ice caps, glaciers and those wandering icebergs contain about ___ percent of the world’s fresh water.

                  15   25   50  75

3. The transition from ice to water is melting and from ice directly to water vapor is:

                  Decrystallization    Flocculation   Sublimation   Condensation

4. Which state in 2014 had the most hail damage claims?

                  Colorado   Nebraska   Texas   Illinois

5. How many known solid crystalline phases of water are there?

                  17   14   11   6

6. What is the approximate increase in volume when fresh water turns to ice?

                  4%  7%   9%  12%

7. Are most types of ice more or less dense than water?

                 More   Less

8. The oldest known major ice age was called

                 Huronian   Cryogenian   Sturtian   Quaternary

 9. What type of ice is often found in space?

                 Amorphous ice    Frazil Ice    Shuga Ice    Nilas Ice

10. What is the visible outgas of an ice comet called?

                 Rosetta    Coma    Geyser    Jet

 11. Which rover photographed the Martian polar ice caps first?

                Curiosity   Spirit   Opportunity   Tumbleweed

12. The polar caps of Mars have been shown to contain seasonal layers of

                Hydrogen Ice      Nitrogen Ice     Carbon Dioxide Ice     Metallic Ice

 

 

Answers: 1. Growler; 2. 75%; 3. Condensation; 4. Texas; 5. 17; 6. 9%; 7. Less; 8. Huronian;       9. Amorphous Ice; 10. Coma; 11. Opportunity; 12. Carbon Dioxide Ice

Friday, 10 March 2017 21:15

United Nations

As we wait eagerly for the winners of the Multi Block competition to be announced I thought it would be fun to let everyone know where the artists have come from, this year and in years past.

The list reads like the United Nations: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Mauritius Island, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Viet Nam.

 

It states in the bylaws for Ice Alaska that one of its purposes is to enhance and promote international friendships through cultural and artistic exchange. Thank you to all of the artists for sharing your skills and letting all the visitors to Ice Alaska enjoy this magnificent and unified endeavor. 

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 21:58

It's Cold Outside

The weather is super cold but you want to come see the multi block sculptures being carved. The kids really want to try out the slides in the Kids’ Park.  How should you dress if you are coming to play in the Kids’ Park or walk around to see the ice sculptures at Ice Alaska. Layering is key. Depending on how cold it is wear a base inner layer, a top and a bottom, that fits snugly to your body. Do not wear cotton! Your second layer can be a bit looser; a midweight fleece is good. For an outer layer a down or synthetic down parka is good to top it all off. When it is very cold, below 0, you might want to wear waterproof snow pants that have additional insulation.

Warm feet are a must. Invest in warm winter boots-or at least buy toe warmers. Boots rated at      -20 to -40 are a good idea. Warm fingers are as important as warm toes. Mittens are the best choice because they keep your fingers together and trap heat more effectively than gloves. Hand warmers are good to have on hand if you need some extra heat. If you’re taking photos and need use of your fingers, wear a thin pair of gloves underneath your mittens so that when you take the mitten off, your fingers aren’t totally exposed.

A great combination in cold temperatures is a hat paired with a balaclava that will cover your nose and cheeks. If you’re active and get warm, swap the hat for a headband—but keep those ears covered to avoid frostbite!

If you are coming to the park to take pictures, don’t forget extra batteries for your camera. The cold saps your batteries dry in a short time. There are warming huts located at the park where you can duck in, warm up, change your batteries and recharge yourself. The largest hut/tent has coffee and hot chocolate for an added warm-up boost.

If you are coming with the kids to play on the slides, don’t forget to bring your sleds. Even a nice big piece of cardboard works great on the big slides. Mom and Dad can go down also.

 

Enjoy yourselves at the Ice Park despite the cold. You’re covered.

Monday, 06 March 2017 08:32

Multi Block Competition

Now the competition moves from sculptures built with one 7,800-pound block of ice to the massive multiblock creations built from 10 blocks weighing at least 46,000 pounds. On March 4 the Multi Block competition began. Teams of 3-4 people will be carving sculptures using these ten blocks each measuring 6’ x 4’ x 3’. There are forklifts all over the multi block sites area as the artists direct the drivers where to position their blocks. The artists have until March 9 at 9:00PM to work on and finish their creations. As in Single Block, the two categories are abstract and realistic. The guidelines for judging remain the same also.

One rule I found particularly interesting is Ice Alaska requires freestanding ice sculptures to be sculpted and judged on all sides. This includes the back of the sculpture which will be seen by the judges only. The reason for this is the finished sculptures are transparent and/or clear and spectators will be able to see right through them.

With blocks everywhere, it is hard to imagine everything coming together. Everyone was very hard at work today but I managed to talk with a couple of very gracious carvers who gave me a few minutes.  The first was Jeff Meyers at Site 6. He and his team, comprised of three carvers from the United States and one carver from Russia are carving Kabuki Theater: Spirit of the Samurai. From the minute I started talking to Jeff, who continued to work as we chatted, I could sense his enthusiasm for his craft; it was infectious. I asked him why he came to Alaska to carve. “The Ice Art Championship in Fairbanks is the biggest and baddest competition there is,” he said. He also mentioned that the ice here is the very best. This is Jeff’s sixth time at Ice Alaska. I am so excited to see this team’s finished work of art.

At Site 10 I met Ralph “Bud” Lies, a five-year veteran to Ice Alaska. His team of four carvers from Indiana and Michigan are working on The Swing. Ralph told me the sweetest story. The Swing is based on the beloved children’s poem, “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson. “How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue?....” This poem has been loved in his family and has played an important part in his family for three generations. The sculpture’s concept is based on artwork drawn by his ten-year-old grandson and is being carved in memoriam for all those in his family who have passed on. I asked Ralph how he liked the ice here and he smiled and said, “It is the Arctic Diamond.”

 I would love to talk with all the carvers and hear their stories as well, but I dare not bother anyone who is so focused and hard at work. Again, I thank Jeff and Ralph for giving me some of their precious time. I wish them, and all the artists here, all the best of luck.  

Saturday, 04 March 2017 07:39

Thank You, Volunteers

 

A volunteer is a person who voluntarily offers himself for a task, responsibility, project or undertaking on his own accord without needing to be told to do so. This is a description of all the people behind Ice Alaska. Ice Alaska, which sponsors the Ice Art Championships, is run/operated solely by volunteers. The month-long event (plus months of planning before the month event) runs like a well-oiled machine, thanks to the tireless dedication of these people who give so selflessly of their time.

There are 16 job areas and all areas need, love and appreciate their volunteers. These areas are: 1. Administration, 2. Concessions (tickets and food), 3. Park Activities-these volunteers build the Kids’ Park, 4. Publicity, 5. Logistics -Ice Alaska couldn’t function without these busy folks-setting up scaffolding, filling water barrels, trash pick-up, Porta-potty monitoring, hanging sunscreens, clean up, hanging banners. 6. Transportation 7. Website/webcams 8. Marketing, 9. Operations-these volunteers are responsible for everything involving ice, including the cutting and moving of the blocks,  10. Safety and Security- this includes the First Aid station, 11. Sculpture and Park Lighting, 12. Sculpture Support, 13. Meals/Lodging-this includes feeding all the artists and volunteers, 14. Sculptor Committee-communicating with the artists, many of whom do not speak English, 15. Digital Publications-coordinating photography, 16. Judging.

The majority of volunteers live in Fairbanks, but there are many who travel, sometimes great distances, just to work here at the park. I have talked with people from Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina and Kansas, just to name a few of the states, who travel to Fairbanks just to volunteer at Ice Alaska.

 On your next visit to Ice Alaska to play on the kids’ slides, and to view the incredible ice creations carved by very skilled artists, please remember that everything you are experiencing in the park has been made possible by a volunteer. Just for a fun, oh by the way fact: I spoke with a lady today, Bonnie, who has been volunteering since 1992. She told me that when she started selling tickets, she and the other ticket sellers stood outside for their entire shift and sold tickets in the cold. 

Thursday, 02 March 2017 03:39

Arctic Diamond

“We make the best ice” claim the volunteers from Ice Alaska who are responsible for cutting the 1,000 blocks of pond ice needed by the carvers who will turn these blocks into beautiful and awe-inspiring works of art.

Before they can begin cutting the ice it must be scraped free of snow, cutting lines drawn with spray paint and then grooved with a small chainsaw. The ice blocks used for the single block competition are 5-by-8 square feet and the blocks for the multi-block competition are 4-by-6 square feet. All the blocks are about 30 inches thick.

Once the blocks are marked and cut they are guided to a waiting extendable-boom forklift waiting at the edge of the hole in the ice. The forklift is submerged, the blocks are guided onto the forks and are lifted out of the water and placed in rows with other blocks. They must sit for several days so they can adjust to the air temperature before being carved.

Because the water is so pure and the winter temperatures so cold, the ice has a slight glacial blue tint. It is so clear that a person can read a newspaper through a four-foot block of ice. The sculptors say that Fairbanks ice is the best ice in the world for sculpting. Because of its translucent quality, it is known as “Arctic Diamond”.

While waiting at the Fairbanks airport last night, I was glancing through the Fairbanks Winter Guidebook and came upon a wonderful quote from Steve Brice, a 16-time World Champion ice sculptor from Fairbanks. “Living in Fairbanks for an ice sculptor is like living in Italy near the marble quarries for a stone sculptor. Fairbanks has become the mecca for the ice sculpting world because of the possibilities of what can be done on a large scale with large ice and a stable environment.” He went on to say, “The excitement of the public viewing an ice sculptor at work is the fuel that pushes ice carvers to ever higher levels year after year.” His quote ends with “As nice as some photographs of ice carvings are, it is not the same as seeing them in person.”

 

To see what Steve is carving at this year’s Ice Art Championship competition, come to the park and visit site 33 for the single blocks. Judging will take place tonight and the award ceremony will be tomorrow night, March 2nd. After the award ceremony, the sculptures may be viewed at night with colored lights, turning the ice magical.

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