It’s difficult to imagine that something as loud and abrasive as a chainsaw or as rudimentary as a shovel can be wielded to produce the most beautiful snow sculpture.

While most people might automatically picture a wedding ice sculpture when they think of snow sculpting it’s actually quite something else.  Snow sculpture does utilize ice but on a much grander scale than what you would customarily find as a centerpiece.  Igloos could be considered a form of snow sculpture except that there purpose is purely functional and their design is necessary.  You really need to let your mind run away with you for this type of sculpting. Think of a castle or an entire village – bar stools, glass wear and bedroom furniture – carved entirely out of ice and snow.  The scale alone is awe inspiring and the immense amount of labor intensive hours required to create such a marvel is just daunting to contemplate, but the inspiration it engenders is heart-warming.

Now that you are picturing the majesty, complexity and beauty of true snow sculpture – can you fathom it all coming together at the hands of a person wielding a grinder or axe? The two images just don’t seem to coalesce do they?  Despite this visual mismatch, it truly is the way these works of art are brought to life; the tools of the trade, whatever they may be, are always crucial.  As a form of art snow sculpture is full of whimsy but as a job it is full of competition. Artists gather annually, tools in hand, to compete with one another in different locations world-wide; the goal being to see who can produce the most amazing sculpture in a finite amount of time. For hours on end there is nothing but the sound of power tools, shaving and chopping filling the air, as blocks of ice give way to art. The techniques required to create the different effects in the snow, such as making ice translucent as opposed to opaque, need to be mastered before one can show their face at a competition.  Therefore, if you get the opportunity to witness a competition, you know you are seeing masters of the craft at work.

Snow sculpture does have an unfortunate but unavoidable draw-back.  Whatever the artist creates will not last forever.  While a photograph may portray a likeness of their work, it is not their work.  It would be like saying you saw a photograph of The Mona Lisa and saying you saw The Mona Lisa. It just isn’t the same.  An artist who specializes in snow sculpture knows that two hundred years from now their work will not be sitting in a museum for future masses to admire.  The fact is, these artists witness the birth and death of their work routinely and it’s unfortunate that not everyone will have the pleasure of appreciating their craft up close.

Snow sculpture has also become a major revenue stream for local tourism in areas where winter can get unceremoniously brutal.  Locals that provide the right conditions often have a yearly tourist attraction (display or competition) created entirely of ice and snow sitting out in the open for people to visit. In areas where mother-nature is less brutal, displays often appear in climate controlled buildings where people can go from a nice summer day and enter into a world they could scarcely dream of.  Snow sculpture exhibits range from the fanciful to complete recreations of film scenes or imaginary literary lands.

It is a rare and special occasion when you get to experience snow sculpture, art of this nature – especially if you can view the creative process itself – is such a particular and specialized craft.   Being able to attest that you witnessed a to-scale Greek god emerge from a block of snow at the hands of a man using nothing more than a shovel and a grinder, is something indeed.  Many states host yearly displays which can take months to create and assemble, so do some research and find out when you will be seeing your first snow sculpture masterpiece.

This guest post was written by Leora Plackett, on behalf of ISA Attractions, the creators of The Ice Kingdom, which is a 15,000 sq foot frozen wonderland made entirely out of Ice. To know more about ice sculptures, you may visit eHow.