Friday, February 19, 2010

Global warming's impact on ice sculptures

Four years ago this was the scene along the lake.... vast quantities of ice made by the strong north winds creating crashing waves in the cold winter air. The waves would splash up high onto the shoreline cliffs and drape them in crystal, beaded skirts. Layers and layers of icicles, all shapes and sizes to work with and create endless playful designs.

Three years ago there were still icicles but not as plentiful. We had cold days and milder winds all winter long. Snows were deep but it wasn't quite as consistently cold as we normally had in the past. We'd have a week of good cold and then a few days of very warm weather and all the icicles would melt back into the lake. Then it would get cold again and they would have to start all over. The lake never froze for more than a day or two then it would break apart and open up again. Since I was new to working with ice and icicles, I just thought that I'd learn to adapt and next year things would get better.

Last year we had a lot of snow but the cold was not as deep (again). Ice formed and melted but did not stay and accumulate. I resorted to harvesting icicles and storing them in my freezer to have enough to work with once conditions improved and were stable for a few days in a row. It was very unsatisfying to have to rely on technology for my work... but there simply were not enough icicles around.

How I long for these conditions! This year has been nearly impossible. There have been mild temperatures (good for the heating bills) and very little in the way of strong storms or winds. The cliffs along the lake are mostly bare! What ice is there is very old, white, thick and not appealing at all to try and use for sculptures. These past 5 weeks it has not even been consistently cold enough to make ice. Except for the one piece I was able to make earlier this year there has been very little to work with and this is very discouraging to me. I had some great visions and dreams about pushing my creative edges even further, but without the natural icicles to work with, I am stuck and unable to create those designs. Added to the challenge, the skies have shown very little in the way of clear, sunny days, so I can't work with what little snow is here either. It has been grey for far too long.

So for those of you who may be wondering why I have not posted much in the way of new work, these are some of the challenges I am facing this year... a radically altered climate and a landscape that is somewhat unfamiliar for this time of year. It is as if we have been caught in a perpetual late November with somber skies and brown ground all around for months and months now. It is hard to believe we are more than half-way thru the winter. I do not recognize this landscape at all for this time of year.

In a few days we are supposed to perhaps see some sun. I will head to the mountains and see if there are any better opportunities up there to make some new creations. Meanwhile, work is progressing on the DVD production. That is turning out to be a massive undertaking so perhaps this is just as well that icicles are scarce at the moment... this way I am forced to sit at my computer and put the DVD images together and get it all prepared for the mastering process. Stay tuned... I will try and write more... even if I have to revisit some older work. There are a few sculptures that have not appeared here which I can bring out of storage and share... one way or another we can at least pretend it is winter here!

1 comment:

Tammie Lee said...

wonderfully gorgeous~

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.