What is an ice statue?

Have you ever made something with ice? The ice artists participating in the festival do. They have won countless awards and are now coming to show off their artistic skills in Zwolle. They are actually sculptors, but they don't use stone or marble. Instead, they work with ice and snow. Lots of it!

What is ice exactly?

Ice is literally the solid form of water. Of course, this solid state is only achieved when water is frozen. But because the conditions in which water freezes vary, there are different types of ice. The temperature of the ice and the pressure exerted on it determine the types of ice. The lower the air content in the ice, the more the colour changes from white to blue or to blue-green. That is why the colour of freshly fallen snow is white and glacier ice is often blue.

We use manmade ice for the construction of our ice sculptures. The large blocks of ice are about 2 metres high, 1,20 metres wide and 50 centimetres deep. This ice has a very nice colour and is crystal clear. The ice is produced by an ice manufacturer abroad and is made from rainwater. The rainwater is filtered to the maximum so that all pollution is removed. This osmosis water, or rather de-mineralised water, is stripped of all salts, minerals, irons and lime. During the freezing process, extremely transparent ice is created in this way.

The electricity for the freezing process comes from solar panels on the roof of the ice factory.

No diesel aggregates are used for the freezing process.

What is a snow sculpture?

Who hasn't thrown some snowballs? That is the simplest form of a snow sculpture. But a little more knowledge and technique is required when building a snowman, as one would be working with a three-dimensional sculpture and some anatomy (its physique). But the snow sculptures created at the Ice Sculpture Festival are an art form. The sometimes metres-tall snow sculptures are built by a team of highly skilled international snow sculpting artists who have extensive experience and technical ability.

Snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals, most of which are branched (think of the snowflake). There are many different types of snow crystals. But in addition to natural snow, it is also possible to produce manmade snow. Because we need large amounts of snow - and quantities of snow is not always guaranteed in winter - we make use of manmade snow. The snow is made from ice flakes which is ground very finely by a snow crusher, so that powder snow is formed, as it were. It is then blown into moulds using a snowblower. Snow stampers then tamp the snow down into these moulds. This is a tough and precise job that takes at least 5 days and nights to complete. The tamping is done 24 hours a day. Very large blocks of snow are created in this way. Then the sculptors are finally ready to get to work and create snow sculptures of up to 6 metres tall!