The idea of Transforming ice into something beautiful has been around for thousands of years, but these last years, the short live ice sculpturing has been rising demand in Vietnam as there is a growing taste for ice sculptures to highlights wedding receptions, parties, and other events.
As no institutions in Vietnam offer training in ice sculpture, most ice sculptors come from other craft jobs, and even if a lot of them are unable to cope with the cold, some persist and put hours of effort to create fantastic sculptures. Sculpting ice presents a lot of difficulties due to the variability and volatility of the material and the temperature of the environment affects how quickly the piece must be completed to avoid the effects of melting; so the sculptor must work very fast and well to finish his piece. Most client orders in Vietnam are ice portraits of relatives or idols. Unlike a painter who portray human models, the ice sculptor has to visualize characters in his mind and sketch it in 3 dimensions before working. Then he works on a block of ice carefully selected free of undesired impurities, ideally made from pure, clean water. Once done, items are wrapped in thermo-proof sheets and shipped in freezing trucks for big pieces. The most popular design: the swan, cost approximately $150 and ask about 1 hours of work.
The origin of ice sculpting
The exact origins of ice sculpting are uncertain. Early Inuits traveling across present-day Alaska, Canada, and Greenland, started building ice and snow houses for a shelter called igloos around 4,000 years ago. Some written records dating back to 600 BC reveals that farmers in the highlands of north China would flood their fields with water, waited for it to freeze and used it to preserve perishable food. In Italy and India, they used to eat ice mixed with fruit juice as a dessert. That was the apparition of the ice cream and sorbet!
Through time, they shaped ice more sophistically and in the 1600s in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang, they used ice to sculpt lantern, freezing water inside buckets, and inserting candles inside. Today in Harbin the capital of Heilongjiang, they host the popular annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival where the crafted ice lanterns is a major attraction. In 1739 in Russia, Empress Anna Ivanovna ordered the construction of a house made of ice for special events. Perhaps the first know « Ice Palace » in the world!