Calgary-based ice carver Lee Ross has been returning to Red Deer every December for over 20 years, and his frozen masterpieces are now a tradition at Parkland Nurseries and Garden Centre.
This year’s sculpture features a cars theme, an homage to the movie Cars 2, which came out earlier this year.
“Every year we come up with a different theme, whatever’s current or special, going on in the movies, or something kinda special, that’s what we sculpt,” Ross said Thursday.
“It really brings people out to see what kind of neat things can be done in ice.”
By early afternoon Thursday, Ross already had a large centre block put in place, with the outlines of race cars and the names of sponsors carved out. The entire sculpture is expected to be complete tonight, and will eventually be about 4.5 meters high and 20 meters in circumference. The final structure will contain approximately 9,000 kg of ice. It’s the biggest ice sculpture in Central Alberta, Ross said.
Ross, who is aided by a partner in Calgary, has been carving things out of ice for over 30 years. He used to compete around the world in ice-carving competitions, but now spends his time on his business, which creates speciality ice sculptures.
Although Ross is spending only two days assembling the sculpture in Red Deer, much of the carving is done back at his Calgary ice plant, in case the weather changes too much. As a result, the total time spent on this project is closer to a week, he says.
Both the tools and the ice Ross uses are especially designed for ice carving. The ice used is frozen in Ross’ ice plant, that circulates water like a river, so all the hard water and calcium moves to the surface and is removed.
“The ice actually melts twice as slow because there is no air actually in the ice,” he said, “and it looks clearer because all the air is taken out.”
Even with the special ice, the sculpture could last anywhere from a couple of weeks to two months, depending on whether a chinook blows in, Ross says. He recommends that anyone interested in the sculpture go see it soon. The best time for viewing the sculpture will be night time, he said, when it will be lit up with different coloured lights.
“If you wanna see something neat and big, this is where you’ll see it.”
The sculpture is free to visit, but Parkland Nurseries will be taking donations for the food bank.