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ICE! - How they do it
This article is the third in a series and should be read in conjunction with the others which give details of the location and the scenes you will see inside.
First let’s look at the raw figures to see what it takes to create this display. It will take nearly 2,000,000 Pounds of ice to create ICE! and this will take the form of about 5,000 blocks of ice. These will be hand carved and transformed into a winter wonderland in about 25 days. These blocks will take the form of around 200 independent sculptures which will be contained within 8 to 10 themed areas of the attraction. A team of around 50 artisans from Harbin, China work inside the "Florida Fridge" to create the attraction. The average temperature inside the enormous structure used to contain the attraction is 9°F. The total square footage of the fridge is 18,000 square feet and this unique structure that contains the attraction is the first of its kind in North America. You will also find more than 1,500 lights will have been frozen within the ice. An additional 400 theatrical lights are used to add drama, by lighting the ice from the exterior
Chain saws are not used to carve the individual sculptures. The artisans prefer wood carving hand tools to sculpt each masterpiece. Power tools are used only to cut the large blocks of ice into manageable blocks and shapes for the artisans to stack. Ice carving is similar to sculpting marble and jade although the ice is softer and very consistent and therefore an easier medium to work with. The hand tools used by the artisans to create the sculptures are similar to carpenters' wood working tools. Each artisan makes his own tools of various designs to help him shape the ice. Specialized tools similar to small hand rakes and steel combs allow the artisan to create the various surface textures to give the impression of hair and fur.
To create the beautiful ice sculptures of today, an ice artisan needs to be familiar with four distinctly different disciplines; electrical, architecture, drafting, and sculpture. It takes 4 to 5 years to learn the skill of carving in ice. The various skill disciplines are divided up across the ice teams. The engineering team takes the artistic renderings of the art director and drafts them into architectural plans that show the construction of the displays in blueprint form. From these detailed blueprints the assembly team works hand in hand with the electricians to move the ice blocks into position, stacking them as a brick or stone mason would, as well as installing the coloured lights within the ice. At that point, the master sculptor approaches the mass of ice with drawings in hand, and, just as Leonardo Da Vinci created a masterpiece out of a block of marble, the ice sculptor creates a display of beauty from a block of ice
Three different types of ice are used in the construction of the attraction.
CLEAR ICE, which is “glass-like” crystal ice and makes up 80 percent of the attraction’s sculptures. The crystal clear ice is created using highly filtered de-ionized water. It takes three days to freeze the 45 gallons of water used to create each 370-pound ice block. The pure water and slow freezing process allows the water molecules to align themselves in a perfect lattice pattern creating the beautifully clear crystalline blocks.
WHITE ICE, which are blocks that are more like compacted snow and have a more opaque effect.
COLOURED ICE, which is dyed brilliant colours for highlighting and accenting the remaining 5 percent of the sculptures.
Snow is also used as a landscaping feature, as well as “blown” ice used to frost displays.
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