Lots of photos today–I finally got to the Ice Park Friday evening. Sadly, some of my favorites were too blurred to put in, as it got too dark for the available light and my hands weren’t steady enough.

To my surprise, most of the ice is being cut now, and stored in piles of sawdust for sale to other parts of the world and for next year’s sculptors. This is the last of last year’s ice.

They were cutting the ice for next year as we drove by, a little after 8 pm.

Although the ice looks perfectly transparent when it is handed to the carvers, in fact it is made up of multiple crystals. Impurities are concentrated at these crystal boundaries, and when the sun shines on the ice, the boundaries are the first places to melt. Pond ice normally grows down into the pond, so the crystals are long, vertical shapes. The result is that sunshine produces long, vertical “candles” of ice.

Sunshine on the carved ice can produce unexpected patterns within the ice, depending on how the grain boundaries are located relative to the carved surface. I’m not even sure what this sculpture was.

The black background is one of the black tarps they hang to try to keep the sun off of the ice. The patterning on the right side of this sculpture, Moonrise, shows the effect of the sun.

The crispness of some of the carving, even after exposure to the sun, is incredible. This is Horsin’ Around.

Sometimes the ice, warmed by the sun, seems to flow. The harpoon on this harpoon fisherman has bent down with the weight of the harpoon head,just aabove the right shoulder of the harpooner. The sculpture is Harvest Moment.

The sculptors put in an incredible amount of work for something they know will last only a few weeks–if that. This one is Angelic Keepers.

I still don’t know how the carver got the star in the ball. They are only allowed to use ice, water and snow. This sculpture is Autumn.

The white markings are an example of use of a slurry of snow and water–though I suspect it’s a little more complicated than that. This is Mask.

Six of my favorites are missing here, so I’ll give links to their online photos. My photos of Palace PetFreedom and White Silence were just too blurred by camera motion to use. The White Rabbit, Rule of Sabanna and Let it Be collapsed completely or in part before I had a chance to see them.

Added 2012: This post had become very popular, but it is not the only collection of photographs I have taken of Fairbanks ice art, or even the best. Other posts are:
More on Ice Melting
Ice Art Championships 1
Ice Again: Single Block by Daylight 1
Ice Sculpture: Single Block by Daylight 2
More Ice Sculpture: Multi-Block in Progress
Multi-Block Ice Sculpture 1
World Ice Art Championships Multi-Block 2
The Fairbanks Ice Park (Children’s Playground)