Ice sculptures are beautiful works of art that make a show-stopping centerpiece for any occasion. They can be carved into almost any design, including animals, faces, or landscapes. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at carving ice, you’ll just need a block of ice, a template for your design, and a chainsaw and chisels! Of course, you should be sure to use caution when working with a chainsaw.
EditCarving the Ice
- Get a block of ice larger than the sculpture you want to create. A block is a good size for a beginner. You can either make your own ice block or purchase a block from an ice company.
- A block of ice this size will be about .
- If you decide to order your ice, you can look online to find an ice company near you. You can either transport the ice yourself in a large cooler or you can have it delivered.
- Store the ice in a large freezer until you need it or wait to pick it up until right before you’re going to carve it.
- Place a rubber mat under your block of ice. If the ice moves while you’re carving it, you could be seriously injured. A rubber mat will keep your ice from slipping.
- Draw your design on the ice. If your block of ice is completely dry, you can draw your design directly onto the ice with a permanent marker. However, you may want to trace your design onto posterboard or wallpaper first, then use an adhesive to apply the template to the ice.
- Wear gloves, an apron, and safety goggles to protect yourself while sculpting. It’s important to wear appropriate safety gear when you’re carving ice. The extreme cold, sharp tools, and flying ice can all create serious safety hazards. 
- You may want to layer on 2 pairs of gloves: a thermal pair to keep your hands warm and a rubber pair to give you traction when you’re handling your ice tools.
- Safety goggles will protect your eyes from flying shards of ice.
- An apron will help keep your clothes dry as you work, which can protect you from a dangerous drop in body temperature.
- Etch your design into the ice with a chisel. Trace along the outline of your template with a wooden chisel or another sharp tool. Creating lines directly in the ice will make it easier to carve your design with the larger tools.
- Hold the sharp end of the chisel against the ice, then tap it gently with a mallet or other blunt object.
- Use a small chainsaw to cut away the ice outside of the silhouette. Hold the front handle of the chainsaw securely with your left hand and the rear handle with your right hand. Squeeze the throttle, then lower the blade to the ice. Make all cuts at a 90 degree angle to the ice, and always cut away from your body.
- Use a lightweight chainsaw designed for carving rather than a large wood-cutting chainsaw.
- You’ll need to make multiple cuts to create a curve, so be patient and work slowly.
- Cut with the bottom of the blade to avoid kickback.
- Step back every few minutes to check your shaping. As you get focused on cutting the ice, it can be easy to lose the bigger picture of your sculpture. Take a break every 3-4 cuts or so to make sure your sculpture is still balanced.
- Use chisels, hand saws, and hairdryers to refine your design. Once you’ve finished making the major cuts with your chainsaw, use smaller tools to create more intricate and precise cuts. Experiment with different tools to see what you prefer.
- Hand saws are good for blocking out areas the chainsaw couldn’t reach, such as interior angles or smaller curves.
- Chisels can help you get into smaller areas to create more intricate designs. If you have a set of chisels in different sizes, start with the largest chisel and work your way to the smallest.
- Use a hairdryer to melt small portions of your sculpture to smooth out any tool marks or flaws.
- Enjoy your ice sculpture for 4-6 hours. Your ice sculpture will start to melt almost immediately at room temperature, but it should maintain a recognizable shape for up to 6 hours.
EditMaking an Ice Block
- Start with distilled water to ensure it’s free of impurities. You can either choose filtered water or boil plain tap water twice.
- The amount of water you will need will depend on the size of the freezer you have and the size of the sculpture you want to create.
- Pour the water into a large freezable container and place it in the freezer. A typical refrigerator freezer will only allow you to freeze enough ice for a small sculpture. If you have a deep freezer or a commercial walk-in freezer, you will be able to create a larger ice sculpture.
- Circulate the water with a small water pump as it freezes to get the clearest ice. Cloudy ice is caused when bubbles get trapped as the water freezes. By constantly circulating the water, you force bubbles to stay at the top of the water, so the ice stays clear.
- You can find small water pumps online at home supply stores. Either submerge the pump in the container of water or purchase one that clips onto the side. Remove the pump before the water freezes completely.
- It should take about 3 days for the block of ice to be completely solid.
- Cut the top off of the ice with an electric saw. Since the bubbles rise to the top of the ice, you will have a cloudy layer that you will need to remove.
- Carefully use the saw to slice through the ice just beneath the layer of bubbles. If you like, you can use a chisel to make marks in the ice to help you keep your cuts level.
- Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from flying pieces of ice.
- Add dye to your water before you freeze it to create a colored ice sculpture.
- Always use caution when using a chainsaw. Be sure to cut away from your body and work slowly to avoid accidents.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Large block of ice
- Safety goggles
- Rubber mat
EditSources and Citations
<ref> tags exist, but no
<references/> tag was found