Sunday, January 13, 2008

Transformations - part 2

So it had been very cold all midweek and except for an hour or so of milky sunlight one morning, the skies had been heavy, overcast and grey... but now they were warming...and warming..and warming. By tomorrow the temps were supposed to get up in the mid 50s with rain !! Unheard of for January ! (in fact, it managed to reach 61F before it was all over). I knew the ice sculptures I had been working on were doomed. Since the Japanese Maple leaf Pagoda piece was standing in a place that got only morning light I wondered if I should take a last chance leap of faith. I sensed that there might possibly be some afternoon light before the rains were to arrive that evening, so I decided to try and move the piece to a more favourable location. I had never done this with an ice sculpture before and I had no idea whether it would shatter or hold together.

I made the location ready to receive the piece should I be successful...I knew I was going to need both hands to hold the sculpture while moving it. With everything ready, I took out my trusty saw...a folding pruning saw works well for cutting ice... I made a few delicate movements and it seemed to be alright so I applied a bit more pressure... and heard a very loud CRACK ! Suddenly the whole sculpture was falling free from its base ! In one motion, I dropped the saw and lunged for the sculpture...gently ! And managed to catch it before it hit the firm snow where it surely would have shattered. I felt like a kid at a baseball game who had just caught the arcing ball and deprived the other team of victory !

I set up the sculpture at the new site and anchored it in with wet slush and left it alone for an hour to re-freeze. The temps had climbed to the mid 20's so there was still a chance this would work. Now I just needed the sun to show up...but it looked bleak and leaden all to the west. A few hours passed, then the clouds thinned and eventually we hit 35F and had a burst of sun peeking out from under the clouds. It was now or never !

Another 30 minutes or so and the sun came fully out and the temperatures soared...and as they did, the Ice Pagoda melted surprisingly quickly. I had a lot of fun capturing the light as it came through all the ice which was now clear, for the most part. The leaves remained astonishingly red and as bits of the structure fell apart, they began to litter the snow below as they were no longer supported by the ice. They looked like blood on the snow.
I was very fortunate to have this brief show of blue sky and golden sun. Soon the whole sculpture came down, unable to support itself in the warmth. For the next few days it rained and was an eerie misty world outside. I was more grateful than ever for taking the risk and having it work out. It has been warm ever since. Most unusual for this part of the world at this time of year....usually we are battling sub-zero temps and struggling to stay warm. I don't mind the warm, but I hope it gets cold enough to again
play with some ice... this season has barely begun for me ! This shot was taken just moments before the whole piece collapsed. I didn't mind... I had the shots...I could let it go.

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Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.