Jeff Stahl sculpts a Pegasus in competition

Jeff Stahl carves a pegasus head at an ice sculpting competition.
Jeff Stahl uses a special ice sculpting bit while working on a horse head.
Jeff Stahl of Artic Diamond in Cincinnati, OH is a recent National Champion (2007) and also captained a team that took second place in 2007 in the Realistic Multi-block portion of the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska. Prior to both of these events, in January of 2007, Jeff competed at the Hunter Ice Festival. Few knew at the time that his Pegasus sculpture was a sort of dress rehearsal for the National and World Championships, as his pieces at both of these demanding events included a flying horse as a main element. The secrets blog entries associated with this gallery are here and here.

Starting the sculpture: Jeff cuts the blocks into the basic sections that will make up his Pegasus

Stacking the ice: Jeff uses a nailboard to flatten a welding surface before adding another section of ice

Cookie-cutting: Jeff works on the overall outline of the piece (upper sections of the piece have not been added yet)

Applying templates: Jeff adjusts the position of the template that will guide his rough cutting of the sculpture

Using a strut: To protect the vulnerable extended right hind leg of the horse, Jeff leaves a temporary strut in place while he works on the sculpture

Rounding off the edges: You can see that the sculpture has started to lose its blocky edges as Jeff smooths and shapes

On to the head: As it gets dark, Jeff works on the outline of the horse’s head

Three dimensional: Now we can see that Jeff has finished the silhouette of the main section and is working on the third dimensional aspects

Fortunately for us, Jeff graciously allowed photographer Janet Crouch to record the process of carving and assembling his sculpture at the Hunter Ice Festival. Ms. Crouch has continued that spirit of goodwill and has allowed 17 of her photographs to be posted here. The full sequence is much longer and includes 90 photos. Although I don't know if the full sequence is still available, her website is at:

Checking for fit: After roughing out the basic outline of the horse’s head, Jeff makes sure that it will match up with the rest of the piece

Shaping the head: Jeff works to essentially finish the head before it’s attached to the sculpture

Building the wings: Another section of ice has been added to the right wing

Adding the head and leg: The head and right front leg have been added

Right wing: The overall shape and structure of the right wing is complete, with some detailing and template removal still to be done

Left wing: The left wing, as well as the left front leg, have been added and detailed. Matt Williams holds a piece of aluminum for welding

Strut removal: That safety strut has been removed and the sculpture has been “glassed,” or melted some to give it a crystalline shine

Finishing touches: The sculpture is nearly complete and the base of the sculpture has been detailed. Jeff holds a blower for removing snow

So that you can understand what I mean when I refer to this sculpture as a dress rehearsal, I’ve included a photo by Patrick Endres of Jeff’s (and his teammates) work in Fairbanks, “Elijah,” as well as three photos taken by James Ottens of Jeff carving at this years National Championships. The sculpture in Alaska is obviously much larger (more than 20 feet tall!) but you can definitely see the similarities in the design of the Pegasus, particularly in the position of the legs and wings.

Daylight: The completed piece, still standing the next day, complete with tiny icicles on the hooves

Shaping the head (Nationals piece): Notice the similarity in the process with the sculpture from the Hunter Ice Festival

“Elijah”; 2nd place Realistic Multi-block; 2007 IceArt Championships in Fairbanks. J. Stahl, D. Rebholz, L. Manzoni, & J. Bleier.

At the National Championships, Jeff took an abstract approach to the design and changed the pose somewhat (see the photos above and below), but there are similarities in the design as well as the process. Jeff is not the only world class ice sculptor to “practice” pieces at earlier competitions; it’s a smart way to approach difficult, high level carving events. Thanks to Ms. Crouch’s photos (and Patrick Endres’ and James Ottens), we get an insight into how successful carvers prepare for success at world class competitions. Thanks Jeff!

Working on the body (Nationals piece): Jeff is preparing to add wings and legs as he did at the Hunter Ice Festival

Finished sculpture (Nationals piece): Although there are some big differences, there are some real similarities too

Janet Crouch, James Ottens, and Patrick Endres retain the copyrights to their respective photographs. These photos are used with permission. Janet Crouch can be reached at, James Ottens’ site is at,and Patrick Endres’ site is at Jeff Stahl has given permission for images of him and his artwork to be included here as well. Duplication or republication of these images without permission is prohibited.

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