Skip to content
25 March 2016 / leggypeggy

An icy reception in Alaska

Concentration, ice sculpture

Concentration, 1st realistic, single block, by James Duggan and Eric Costic, USA

Concentration, ice sculpture, Fairbanks, in daylight

Concentration, in daylight

If you aren’t in Alaska now—and I mean right now—you aren’t likely to make it in time to see the 2016 World Ice Art Championships, which close Sunday in Fairbanks.

We were lucky enough to visit the displays in early March when the single-block entries were done and the multiple-block entries were still being sculpted. Our two weeks in Alaska (most of it as part of a Road Scholar program) included stays in Fairbanks and Coldfoot, a camp about 10-hours drive north of Fairbanks.

I’ve written a few posts about our activities, and it’s time to introduce the sculptures before they all melt and fall over—a few already had when we visited.

A beautiful noise, ice sculpture, Fairbanks

A beautiful noise, realistic, by Brian Connors and Jason Paul, USA

The competition, which is now sponsored by BP, began as a week-long event back in 1990. Now it lasts a full month and attracts more than 100 competitors and almost 50,000 visitors. I read that in 2014, 1500 tons of ice were use with most harvested from ponds near the ice park. It seems that two kinds of ice are harvested. One is crystal clear while the other is rather cloudy or opaque. Together they give sculptures a two-tone effect.

This year, competitors came from the United States, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Croatia, Monaco, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, Iceland and France. Hope I didn’t miss anyone.

We managed to visit three times—twice at night and once during the day. It’s amazing how different the sculptures look at different times of day. At night, all exhibits are lit with colour. I don’t know if colours are chosen by the artists or the organisers.

Renewed Embodiment

Joel Ratchford with Renewed Embodiment

We chatted to Joel Ratchford, one of the sculptors, and he said the event has grown so much that it’s getting hard for all the competitors to create their artworks. There are limited display places in the Alaska Ice Park and also limited electricity.

Sculptors use all manner of tools that can require power such as drills, blow torches, chain saws and more. Then there are the lights needed to work by—many artists were ‘chiselling’ away in the dark—and the lights needed for each display.

I have to comment that we saw light units, electrical cords and power boards all over the place.

Ice sculptor at work

Carol DeMar, USA, ice sculptor at work

The first time we visited was in daylight. The single-block sculptures were done and work on the multiple-block exhibits was just beginning.

I took pictures of almost everything. Some turned out better than others and I can now report on the results.

I didn’t manage to get good shots of all the winners (never mind), but I got decent shots of most of the ones I liked. Every category (in addition to single and multi-block, there were amateur and youth exhibits) included entries classed as abstract or realistic. Prizes were awarded to both.

Because I didn’t get pics of all the winners, you should visit the event’s comprehensive  website for more photos and details. I visited it tonight and found it really entertaining.

Coelacanth, ice sculpture, Fairbanks, 2016

Coelacanth, by Junichi Nakamura and Jeff Moehlin, Japan and USA

As an aside, I would love to hear what sculptures you like best. Two of my favourites are above and below. I’m rather partial to the mysterious coelacanth (fish above) and especially love how the one below is lit.

P.S. I haven’t yet had a chance to download the pics of multiple-block sculptures (hey, we’re on the go), so will come back with a post on them. But if you’re looking for easier things to do with blocks of ice, why not try the Bloody Mary mix on my cooking blog. 🙂

Soul Collector, ice sculpture, Fairbanks

Soul Collector, Artist’s Choice, realistic, by Chris Foltz and Heather Brice


Leave a Comment
  1. gerard oosterman / Mar 25 2016 5:14 pm

    Where there any nudes about?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joanne T Ferguson / Mar 25 2016 5:16 pm

    WOW and AMAZING Peggy! Mmmmmmm….one would not have thought power chords and electrical in, on and or near ice aka water was a good thing, but they obviously know they are doing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 25 2016 10:55 pm

      Good point Joanne, but I assume all the equipment is designed for outdoor use.


  3. mopana / Mar 25 2016 5:20 pm

    This is wonderful and very icy. I would like to be there. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. derrickjknight / Mar 25 2016 7:06 pm

    Your two fit the bill for me. I imagine they were quite difficult to photograph

    Liked by 1 person

  5. poshbirdy / Mar 25 2016 7:15 pm

    Wow. These are amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. wfdec / Mar 25 2016 7:33 pm

    Art student daughter. said,”Awesome”

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 25 2016 10:58 pm

      She should check out the website for lots more images.


  7. voulaah / Mar 25 2016 8:18 pm

    very amazing pics

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Worlds Biggest Fridge Magnet / Mar 25 2016 8:52 pm

    Absolutely wowed here in little old Wantage 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 25 2016 9:20 pm

    Oh I love the soul collector! The first lady balancing is great also. The lighting sure does bring something to the mix.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 25 2016 11:01 pm

      The lighting makes a huge difference. That said, the details in some of the sculptures were more obvious in daylight.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Simona Prilogan / Mar 25 2016 9:21 pm

    Amazing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dorothy / Mar 25 2016 9:26 pm

    Wow Peggy, concentration was well named, it would have taken a lot of concentration to sculpt it. You do get to see some amazing sights and I do appreciate getting to see them with you. Especially the ones in cold places because you just know I am not going there. Looking forward to the rest of the photos.


    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 25 2016 11:04 pm

      Thanks for coming along with us, Dorothy, even if we take you to cold places. 🙂 And I agree completely that Concentration is well named.


  12. apriltulip / Mar 26 2016 12:07 am

    Beautiful in an otherworldly way (er, especially “soul collector “)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 26 2016 1:59 am

      What a perfect description—Soul Collector is very otherworldly!


  13. sidilbradipo1 / Mar 26 2016 12:12 am

    Stunning ice-artworks ❤
    Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Lynz Real Cooking / Mar 26 2016 12:45 am

    Wow amazing Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Mar 26 2016 2:20 am

    Love the detail in the (cello?) – the musical notes etched into the ribbon of ice are gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. spearfruit / Mar 26 2016 4:50 am

    Wow, the amount of effort put into these are amazing. I like the ‘A beautiful noise’. Thanks Peggy for sharing this with us! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 26 2016 5:18 am

      So glad you like them too. I can hardly imagine how much time they took to create.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. theorangutanlibrarian / Mar 26 2016 5:02 am

    Wow! Those sculptures are so beautiful!


  18. Curious to the Max / Mar 26 2016 5:23 am

    Spectacular! My favorite is the fish too. However, after drinking your Bloody Mary mix spiked with salmon vodka my favorite is the burly man in the yellow jacket.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Carol Ferenc / Mar 26 2016 5:25 am

    All of these sculptures are amazing but my favorite is “A Beautiful Noise.” What fun and what a perfect way to celebrate the frigid temps!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. White House Red Door / Mar 26 2016 6:38 am

    Incredible sculptures! All of these artists are so talented! I like the fish best… it reminds me of a Japanese art called gyotaku, basically fish printing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 26 2016 7:05 am

      You’re right. The fish does look like Japanese art. Thanks for the insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Coral Waight / Mar 26 2016 5:56 pm

    Amazing. I adored the cello.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. thatmishmash / Mar 26 2016 6:20 pm

    The sculptures are wow and you have done a marvellous job with the pictures ! Enjoyed the post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. legominifigurestravel / Mar 31 2016 11:44 am

    Wow Peggy! These sculptures and your photo’s look amazing. Looks like you guys are having a ball. Safe travels and I am looking forward to read more of your stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Apr 11 2016 4:19 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Sorry to take so long to reply, but I’ve been wandering around Cuba.


  24. Joel F / Apr 1 2016 8:01 pm

    Wow, this is amazing. Really beautiful. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Stephanae V. McCoy / Apr 11 2016 1:03 am

    These works of art are awe inspiring. Beautiful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: