consumption tour 1: ice sculpting

Dont worry - theyre way better with ice than they are with signwriting.

Don't worry - they're way better with ice than they are with signwriting.

we do this cool thing at our agency once a month, which we call Consumption Tours. it consists of going out into the world and finding out a little more about just about anything. this time we paid a visit to the HQ of Ice Art, a company that specialises in creating ice sculptures for corporate events. we knew it was going to be good while we were still in the car on the way there, since we were following these amusing instructions from owner of the company:

From: ICE ART [mailto:james@iceart.co.za]
Sent: 23 July 2008 03:27 PM
To:
Subject: RE: Directions to KiefnessOK, take the M5 to kiefness, get off at the Berkley road offramp about 1km before the N1, then turn right, back under the M5 – go to the first robots of kiefness, then turn left and head over the bridge down to voortrekker road kiefness. Go through these robots boytjie and go to the next set of robots – at this point of kiefness you would head over to Paarden Eiland should you continue… But you don’t… You turn left at these robots and then immediately left again ( double back on yourself ) and then you take your first right (  next to the HUGE silencer city of kiefness ) – this is Basson Street, the sign is bent over from a truck ramming it. Go right to the very very end of the cul-de-sac where you see the brick wall – don’t be scared, you are almost in the land of kiefness. We are the very very last unit on the right hand side against this brick wall – Unit number 7…

anyway. it was fascinating to observe the process. i will attempt to take you through it here:

James, the owner of Ice Art, meets us outside and instructs us to put on our coats while using the word kiff more than anyone ever should.

James, the owner of Ice Art, meets us outside and instructs us to put on our coats while using the word 'kief' more than anyone ever should.

These freezers are where the ice is made. Ice Art has 3 freezers, and it takes 4 days to make 1 block of ice. It takes 1 day to freeze half the ice, and then 3 more days to freeze the rest, since the already frozen ice acts as an insulator against the rest of the water.

These freezers are where the ice is made. Ice Art has 3 freezers, and it takes 4 days to make 1 block of ice. It takes 1 day to freeze half the ice, and then 3 more days to freeze the rest, since the already frozen ice acts as an insulator against the rest of the water.

The water used to make sculpted ice has to be treated so that it doesnt freeze milky. So these freezers keep the water moving and the addition of chemicals takes out trace elements. Here, Craig and Dave are in the middle of a competition to see who can hold their hands in the below-freezing water for the longest. Craig on the left won, with a 2.5 minute record.

The water used to make sculpted ice has to be treated so that it doesn't freeze milky. So these freezers keep the water moving and the addition of chemicals takes out trace elements. Here, Craig and Dave are in the middle of a competition to see who can hold their hands in the below-freezing water for the longest. Craig on the left won, with a 2.5 minute record.

A little chainsaw, and a spade. Not pictured is the planing tool, and the curved saw.

Some of the tools used for ice sculpting: A little chainsaw, and a spade. Not pictured is the planing tool, and the curved saw.

First things first, Ice Art have a whole bunch of reserve blocks lined up for carving in their freezer.

First things first, Ice Art have a whole bunch of reserve blocks lined up for carving in their freezer.

Next, the ice is trimmed to cut away rough edges. The by-product of this process is snow - fun waste.

Next, the ice is trimmed to cut away rough edges. The by-product of this process is snow - fun waste.

Then, the outline of the design is cut into the block. The Sculptor (pictured) works simply with picture reference. He tells us he used to be a diesel mechanic before he got into sculpting. He spends his whole day sculpting in this walk-in cold room, which is normally a happy -15 degrees celcius, but was at -5 when we were there.

Then, the outline of the design is cut into the block. The Sculptor (pictured) works simply with picture reference. He tells us he used to be a diesel mechanic before he got into sculpting. He spends his whole day sculpting in this walk-in cold room, which is normally a happy -15 degrees celcius, but was at -5 when we were there.

Then, a small axe thing is used to slice away the ice. Because of how the ice is frozen, it is really easy to chip away. In fact its actually pretty cathartic. This is Dave, getting some snow spray.

Then, a small axe thing is used to slice away the ice. Because of how the ice is frozen, it is really easy to chip away. In fact it's actually pretty cathartic. This is Dave, getting some snow spray.

This is me, chipping away like an arctic woodchuck. Its a lot of fun.

This is me, chipping away like an arctic woodchuck. It's a lot of fun.

Thing get rounded and smoothed with a curved saw. To make the ice as smooth as glass, you can literally smooth it with your fingers, until they get too cold to be a source of heat.

Thing get rounded and smoothed with a curved saw. To make the ice as smooth as glass, you can literally smooth it with your fingers, until they get too cold to be a source of heat.

15 minutes later, and this is what the former raw chunk of frozen water looks like. Very impressive.

15 minutes later, and this is what the former raw chunk of frozen water looks like. Very impressive.

All in all, it was a good outing. We scrunched in the snow in the freezer and even chewed on hacked off pieces of ice, which is a truly fine way to spend a lunch hour.

Mallix holds a piece of his heart up to the light. Such clarity. Such potential for inflicting pain.

Mallix holds a piece of his heart up to the light.

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