Ice artist James Morton was carving an owl for visitors to Blackfalds Winterfest 2019 on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

Ice artists add fun to Family Day in Blackfalds

Blackfalds Winterfest 2019

Blocks of ice sculpted into cute animals gave visitors to Blackfalds Winterfest 2019 a reason to appreciate the cold weather on Monday.

Edmonton ice artist Cliff Vacheresse said the baby giraffe, the owl, and the fist grasping a sword being carved outside the Abbey Centre Field House could last a long time if they are kept in the shade.

“Even more so than the heat, the UV light will really get inside the ice and make it expand from the middle and blow it to pieces,” said Vacheresse, who works on outreach sculpture projects for Ice on Whyte.

Ice is purchased specially for carving and construction.

“There’s no flaws or air pockets inside of them like normal ice so there’s nothing to heat up inside the ice unless the UV comes into action. I’ve had sculptures last in the shade in my front lawn in the middle of April and you can still see what they are.”

Ice on Whyte artists have been building the ice slides at Blackfalds festival for a few years. Ice blocks that are leftover from the slide are used for sculpting. A suitable place outside the field house will be found for the sculptures once the festival wraps up.

“I love coming down here. It’s tons of fun. A very well received little festival. We just have a blast coming down here,” Vacheresse said at the Li’l Chipper Ice Carving demonstration.

Last week his crew built two ice slides, and a snow maze with sculptures and benches hidden inside, at the Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza in Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Next week they are off to High Level.

“We get to travel around and sculpt ice. It’s a pretty awesome gig.”

Vacheresse said he got into ice sculpting by chance along with his friend Mark Berge 10 years ago when they started working site set up and maintenance at Ice on Whyte. While working side-by-side with ice artists, they caught the bug, started buying tools and getting ice to practice.

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