Cat in the Hat sculpting sequence, page 1 of 5

Cat in the Hat engraved ice sculpture
Starting from raw blocks of ice and using templates, hand power tools, chisels, glitter, and colored sand, I get to work on the Cat in the Hat. It's weird, nostalgic, and awesome, all rolled up into one for me, as I watch a character from my childhood slowly emerge from the ice. This piece took a lot of freezer time, partly because I was trying a slightly different method of achieving the colorfill and partly because the Cat has a lot going on. You can decide if the time was worth it.

step 1: cutting slabs from a raw block

cutting raw ice blocks into thinner slabs of ice

I've cut one slab free with a chainsaw, while another is scored on the block next to it. To work on the Cat, I need 2 slabs of about 40"x20". One slab should be about 3 inches thick and the second should be thinner, perhaps 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. The thicker slab will take the engraving and colorfill, while the thinner slab will become a backing plate that allows me to cut a more shallow engraving while also increasing the lifespan of the sculpture.

step 2: preparing the ice slabs

an ice block slab with nailboard marks on it from flattening it

Using a nailboard, I made one side of each of the two slabs as flat as possible. These two flat surfaces get welded together near the end of the process, so I also checked to see how well they matched up.

step 3: applying and using template #1

the first Cat in the Hat template, applied to the slab of ice

I used 2 templates of the Cat in the Hat during sculpting. Here, I've applied the first template, and I've cut the outer Cat-shape outline and removed the excess template paper.

step 4: using template #1

the outer shape of the Cat in the Hat sculpture is cut

Now, I've finished the outer outline by cutting the excess ice away. Also, if you look carefully, you'll see that I've engraved the outline of the Cat himself into the surface of the ice. The engraving is rather shallow as I'm trying to create an inset surface.

step 5: template #1 removal

The outline of the Cat is cut on the Cat-shaped ice piece.

Using a die grinder with a 10 degree cone end mill bit, I removed the template to reveal the engraved outline of the Cat that will be inset.

step 6: cutting the inset

An inset is chiseled into the Cat shape.

Using sharp chisels of various sizes, I carved the inset (less than an inch deep). I tried to make the surface as level as possible.

step 7: smoothing the inset surface

smoothing the inset of the Cat ice

I lightly ground and polished the inset surface so that it's as flat and uniform as reasonably possible.

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