Melting ice is part of the process

It’s the one question everyone wants the answer to. How long will it take my sculpture to melt? And it’s the one question to which the team can’t give an accurate answer. There are so many variable environmental factors involved in melting ice that it’s impossible to say exactly how long a carving will last. Not only that, but the way in which the ice is formed is also to some extent, variable, and that too has a bearing on the duration of a sculpture. Here are just a few of the many things to consider:

– Particular crystal structure of the ice which is caused by the conditions on the day it was frozen (there are over 100 possibilities).

– Air content in the ice.

– Temperature on the day of presentation.

– Humidity of the air.

– Effect of any rain.

– Wind speed.

– Wind temperature.

– Direction of wind.

– Strength of any sunlight.

– Direction of sunlight.

– Effect of UV deterioration on the ice.

– Even at subzero temperatures ice can sublimate (change directly from a solid to a gas) which causes deterioration which is not classified as melting.

Melting ice isn’t bad

Many people think of the melting ice as a bad thing, especially as so much work goes into each individual piece. But for the Hamiltons it’s all part of the process. The transient nature of ice is what makes ice sculpture unique. It’s always dynamic, so it’s often more helpful to see your carving as a performance rather than a static work of art. The changes that you see as the melting progresses are all part of that performance and in their own way, rather beautiful.

Of course sometimes the team are asked to create sculptures which focus on the melting. They may also be asked to speed up the process. For a recent Dogs’ Trust campaign, the Hamiltons carved a dog which was then filmed melting to highlight the plight of dogs that have been left in hot cars. See the video below. Sometimes the team are asked to purposefully melt the ice purely for the aesthetic effect it creates. Above you can see Jamie getting to work with a blowtorch.