The History of Ice Sculpting

February 27th, 2014


As much as we all enjoy the act of creating ice sculptures and participating in ice sculpting competitions around the world, how many times do we actually stop and think about what we’re doing? How many times have you wondered, who even thought of ice sculpting in the first place? As incredible as it is, it is sort of an unusual craft and we can’t help but wonder who the first person was to decide that ice was something that could be transformed into works of art.


The History of Ice Sculpting | Ice Crafters

Well in actuality, the history of ice sculpting isn’t entirely clear. According to an article from BBC Travel, the first instances of people actually using ice as a resource were recorded nearly 4,000 years ago in present-day Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Natives in these particular regions would gather ice and snow and use them to build houses, much like the igloos we see and/or hear about today. From there, the uses and benefits of ice became more heavily recognized throughout the world. For instance, in 600 BC, farmers in northwestern China would flood their fields, wait for the water to freeze and then harvest and store blocks of ice to help preserve seafood and other perishables.


From there, it wasn’t long before individuals came to realize that the ice could be sculpted into different shapes by using salts and various tools. Not only did fishermen in Chinese province, Heilongjiang start lanterns from ice in the 1600s, but in 1739 Russian empress Anna Ivanovna ordered the construction of the first known ice palace, to be used to special events.


Today, ice palaces are still being constructed in some of the largest ice sculpting competitions in the world, with some countries even creating ice towns for the entertainment of tourists and enthusiasts alike. It has grown in such popularity that ice sculpting competitions are even being featured in the Olympics, not as a sport, but as a Cultural Olympiad event.


So regardless of how muddled and unclear the history of ice sculpting may be, there’s no mistaking how far it has managed to come. At any rate, here at Ice Crafters, we couldn’t be happier with the progress!


(Posted by: Alice Connelly of Ice Crafters)


Written by Ice Crafters

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