ice portraits

Arnold and Terminator split ice portrait
an ice portrait of Arnold's split Terminator personality
People will often react with astonishment to a particularly fantastic ice sculpture. They'll remark how it's such a shame that something so beautiful will fade so quickly and be gone. They'll react the same way to a particularly spectacular life; witness the celebration of Steve Jobs' life and accomplishments a little while back (and see how many portraits of him have sprung up on the web). The point is that an ice sculpture's short life is a mirror of our own existence. If it's well done, then we can't get enough of it and it'll be gone long before we're ready.



An ice portrait of Will Ferrell as Bacchus XLIV

Will Ferrell was Bacchus XLIV (King of the Krewe of Bacchus during Mardi Gras 2012). This ice portrait was featured at the party in his honor on a Mississippi riverboat.

an ice portrait of Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong will forever be revered as one of New Orleans' favorite sons and a jazz pioneer. So his image was incorporated into a jazz-themed ice bar in New Orleans.

an ice portrait of a horse

Ice portraits aren't just for people.
This horse's portrait was added to a horsetrack club name.

a jazz ice bar featuring portraits of Louis Armstrong and Hank Mobley

Here's a picture of the full bar with the portrait of Louis Armstrong. Hank Mobley, another jazz great, is pictured on the other side of the ice bar.

So far, most of the people depicted in ice in this gallery are no longer with us. They live now only in our collective cultural memory. That's not to say that there won't be more ice portraits of living people included in the very near future, but it's a reminder how little time we have on this planet.
An ice portrait of Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe's portrait was engraved in ice for a Hollywood-theme New Year's Eve party. Here, her portrait stood nearly finished in an ice plant freezer. Before it went on display, it was polished with an iron.

an ice portrait of "Gone with the Wind" actor Clark Gable

Clark Gable's likeness was also engraved in ice for the same New Year's Eve party with a classic Hollywood theme. You can see part of Marilyn's portrait sitting behind it.

an ice portrait of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. for a celebration of his birthday

The birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an observed national holiday. This ice sculpture was displayed at party marking the occasion.

an ice portrait of silent movie star Charlie Chaplin

Charlie Chaplin's ice portrait also graced the Hollywood-themed New Year's Eve party. Chaplin is depicted as his famous Tramp character, one of the most famous in the history of the movies.

A painted portrait or a bust sculpted in marble or cast in bronze will often last much longer than the person that's the subject of the artwork. Some museums feature works that are thousands of years old. An ice portrait is at the other extreme: it only lasts a few hours. But it can also demonstrate both how short and how beautiful our lives can be, and how little time we have to make our mark in the world!



portrait of legendary Louisiana governor Huey Long in ice

This ice engraving depicted Louisiana governor Huey Long. Long was the basis for the character of Willie Stark in "All the King's Men." This sculpture was engraved using a CNC machine.

the blank ice canvas that will become an ice portrait

This blank ice canvas, made of three flat pieces of ice, welded together, was then sculpted and engraved into an ice portrait.

the incomplete dragon ice sculpture with a template still applied

Before the white snow is added to give the contrast against the clear ice, this is how a snowfill engraved ice sculpture looks. Here it lies on a pallet in a large freezer.

dragon ice sculpture with red lighting

For hand carved ice portraits, specially prepared paper templates are applied to the ice. Then the ice sculptor cuts through the paper template and the design is transferred to the ice.

Like the gallery or have a comment about one of the photos? You can leave your comments below. (If you don't see a comment form, try reloading the page.) Thanks!
© 2006-2014 Dawson List & ice carving secrets: contact