ice sculptures by Mark Daukas

closeup of a seahorse ice sculpture by Mark Daukas at the 2011 OC Fair Ice Museum
closeup of a seahorse ice sculpture by Mark Daukas
Mark Daukas is the closest thing that the world of ice sculpting has ever had to a Michael Jordan. Nearly unbeatable at high profile ice carving competitions, Mark accomplished a feat that has since never been equaled when he won three sanctioned National Championships in a row from 1991 to 1993. (Only one other sculptor has come close: Jeff Stahl won two in 2002-2003.)

"Thor, God of Thunder and Lightning" by Mark Daukas and Scott Rella in Hamar, Norway at the 1994 Olympic Arts Festival Ice Carving Competition. Photo courtesy of Scott Rella.

artwork for "Thor, God of Thunder and Lightning" by Mark Daukas and Scott Rella. Notice how closely the artwork matches the finished ice sculpture. Image courtesy of Scott Rella.

Mark uses a chainsaw to cut a wing free from a larger piece of ice. Mark put an emphasis on treating ice carvings as true sculptures, so elements were carved fully in the round. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kaiser.

Mark uses an angle grinder during a demonstration in the mid-nineties. Mark pioneered a near power-tools-only approach to sculpting ice. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kaiser.

Mark uses liquid nitrogen to attach a sculpted wing to a larger piece of ice at a demo. Mark and Scott Rella made extensive use of liquid nitrogen (which is at about -320°F) during carving of the "Thor" piece in Norway. Photo courtesy of Jeff Kaiser.

Mark works on a small section of a multi-block King Neptune ice sculpture inside the 2011 version of the Orange County Fair Ice Museum.

Mark's precisely carved angelfish ice sculpture also featured snowfill engraved striping. Snowfill engraving gives ice sculptors a way to create contrast (white snow against clear ice) on the surface of their sculptures.

This piece that Mark sculpted depicting two leaping sailfish was the tallest of the window pieces at the 2011 Ice Museum. The Ice Museum had nine windows through which spectators could see the fantastic ice sculptures without having to brave the cold.

Mark is also the owner of two World Championship titles, one in Fairbanks, Alaska and one from Asahikawa, Japan. Mark teamed with Scott Rella for the 1994 Olympic event in Hamar, Norway. There, Scott and Mark created their amazing ice sculpture of the Norse god Thor (pictured in the gallery), which earned them a special award for their technological achievements in ice sculpting.

A different kind of "seahorse," this hippocampus ice sculpture combines horse and fish in a dynamic pose that is one of Mark's specialties.

Here's a closeup shot of the head of Mark's hippocampus ice carving. Note the lifelike look of the creature's eye.

Besides the hippocampus piece, Mark carved a more standard version of a seahorse ice sculpture, which also was displayed at one of the Museum's viewing windows.

Mark cracked the ice along the tail of the hippocampus to give it a scaly look. In the past, Mark has used this technique on some of his ice sculptures so that they'd resemble marble.

Many carvers have adopted Mark's innovative sculpting techniques, especially after he conducted a series of "Icemaster" sculpting workshops around the country in the 1990's. Expert ice sculptors Steve Brice and Dean Carlson are just two of many that count Mark as an influence.

Both kinds of seahorse sit next to one another before they are placed on their pedestals in front of the viewing windows. Mark carved his pieces for the display windows back at the Carving Ice studio and the delicate ice sculptures were carefully transported to the Museum.

Mark puts finishing touches on his sailfish piece. Each of the ice sculptures require careful touchups before they're ready for viewing. In some cases, as in the case of the sailfish carving, the sculpture must be assembled.

A male torso, a la Michelangelo, is on display at the 2010 Ice Museum. This is one of Mark's signature ice sculptures and represents his commitment to an expertise in sculpting human anatomy.(photo courtesy of Jim Ottens)

Jim Ottens (l) and Roland Hernadez (the architect of the 2010 and 2011 OC Fair Ice Museums) stand before Daukas' version of Rodin's "The Thinker" at the 2010 Museum. Photo courtesy of Jim Ottens

Mark's multi-block Neptune ice sculpture sits partly complete in the 2011 Museum. Mark sculpted the entire piece onsite at the Ice Museum. The finished piece included ice dolphins that swam in front of Neptune; these were completed while the Museum was open, giving visitors an extra icy treat! (photo courtesy of Jim Ottens)

A goldfish piece sits partly complete at the Carving Ice studio. On the wall behind the sculpture, you can see the detailed drawings that Mark was working from. Mark is also known for his use of detailed templates while sculpting so that the final ice art will reach the its design potential.

This was Mark's double block ice sculpture at the 1993 National Championships in Youngstown, Ohio. An innovative ice representation of the Titan Atlas, it was titled "Bearer of the Heavens." It was awarded the highest point total for the first day of competition.

The finished goldfish piece sits on its window pedestal in the 2011 Museum. The Museum featured elaborate LED lighting aimed from the ceiling and all the ice sculptures where colored and illuminated.

In recent years, Mark has kept a low ice sculpting profile, but he's sculpted exquisite pieces for the Orange County Fair Ice Museums created by Carving Ice for the last couple of years. Most of the photos in the gallery are from this venue and demonstrate that Mark has not lost his impressive ice sculpting talents. You can visit Mark's website at

For the the 2010 Ice Museum Mark sculpted a recreation of his signature angel piece titled "Harmony" (photo courtesy of Jim Ottens)

This version of "Harmony" from the 1993 National Championships, gave Mark his 3rd straight sanctioned National Championship.

Here's a third of "Harmony" from 1993. Although difficult to see, the sculpture features an almost impossibly delicate ice harp, cradled in the angel's left arm.

Here's a backside view of "Harmony," again from 1993 in Youngstown, Ohio. Note the carefully tailored silhouette and the delicate support structure of the sculpture.

Mark made his name in ice sculpting before digital photography was widespread and in a day when Facebook and Twitter didn't yet exist. Thus, photos of his amazing ice sculptures are hard to come by. If you have pictures of Mark's ice art and would like to possibly see them here, please get in touch at

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