PHOTO ESSAY: Ice carving at Dartmouth Ice Festival

Master ice carver demonstrates his craft to launch annual event

Richard Chiasson first stumbled upon ice carving when he was a chef and his boss asked him to carve a sculpture for a New Year’s Eve event.

“I never carved ice in my life. He says, ‘Go outside and don’t come back until it’s done,’ ” said Chiasson on Friday to a crowd of 14 at Dartmouth’s Alderney Landing.

Chiasson, now a world renowned ice carver, of Ice Creation Glace, was speaking at a workshop on Jan. 27. It’s the first event to open the annual Downtown Dartmouth Ice Festival, held over the weekend.

Before starting on the sculpture, he explained the process of making crystal clear ice for artistic carving, which involves using filtered water that’s gone through reverse osmosis.

“Impurities don’t freeze in water,” said Chiasson. “If you understand the ice, if you know its qualities, its faults, you’re all set.”

Each block of ice takes up to five days to freeze. Because water expands as it freezes, it can crack once it gets too big for a mold. Chiasson uses plates with springs to ensure his ice blocks stay intact. The ice blocks he makes are 20 inches wide by 10 inches thick and 40 inches tall.

According to Chiasson, most ice carvings displayed indoors last six to eight hours.

Richard Chiasson (left) and Edmond Theriault (right) unload a 300-lb ice block. Chiasson made all 12 tonnes of ice used at the Dartmouth Ice Festival, which he shipped from his home in Caraquet, N.B.   Crystal Greene
An assortment of mostly woodworking tools that Chiasson has altered for carving ice.   Crystal Greene
Once a design has been drawn with marker onto an ice block, the first tool Chiasson picks up is a chainsaw.   Crystal Greene
Chiasson shows Kit Carroll, from Dartmouth, how to cut ice.   Crystal Greene
Next, Chiasson uses a small, battery powered hand tool to draw fine lines into the ice.   Crystal Greene
Ice is smoothed with a tool that shaves the ice.   Crystal Greene
The final step in ice sculpting involves a blowtorch.   Crystal Greene
Fire transforms the frosted ice to transparent ice, as the flame melts the outer layer.   Crystal Greene
Fine details of Chiasson’s masterpiece, a fish in ice   Crystal Greene
The fish ice sculpture is complete.   Crystal Greene
Richard Chiasson shows off the fish ice sculpture he made during a workshop at the Dartmouth Ice Festival on Jan. 27. His assistant Edmond Theriault looks on.   Crystal Greene
Crystal Greene

Crystal Greene

Crystal Greene (she/her) is originally from Winnipeg, where she lived most of her life. She now lives in Kjipuktuk/Halifax with her toddler. She is in the one-year Bachelor of Journalism program at University of King's College.

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