butane sources

Bernzomatic butane can

Butane is good news/bad news stuff. Good news: freezes stuff together, quickly and cheaply. Bad news: REALLY flammable.the whole entry...

ice sculptures and floral video

In this informative video from Ice Pro Ice Sculptures, Joe Rimer shows how to combine flowers and an ice vasethe whole entry...

ice block with frozen fish patties for a Popeyes commercial

a shrimper imposter

Who is this fool and what does he have to do with freezing fish patties into an ice block for a Popeyes commercial?the whole entry...

freezing flowers into an ice luge

flowers and ice luge tubing freezing into an ice block

For a double tube luge, two spiraling tubes and three flowers were frozen into an ice block. Then the ice luge was cut from the ice block and the ends of the tubing were exposed so that the luge could be used.the whole entry...

holiday ice sculpture design ebook

holiday ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets

The holiday ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and if you were subscribed to the secrets newsletter email list, then you got an email with the free download link. Otherwise, you can buy it for a special price.the whole entry...

Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook

Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook cover

The Thanksgiving ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and you can get it for free for a limited time if you “like” ice carving secrets on Facebook.the whole entry...

Halloween ice sculpture design ebook

Halloween ice sculpture design ebook cover thumbnail

The first ice sculpture design ebook from ice carving secrets is here and you can get it for free for a limited time (but the limited time is over for now...) if you “like” ice carving secrets on Facebook.

(You can still download it for a cheap price though.)the whole entry...

drawing on ice

drawing on ice with markers

The other day I got an email asking for advice on how to "write on the ice." Right away, I sent back an email that explained which kinds of magic markers let you write on ice when it's still frozen (not while it's melting). Well, you can probably see where this is going: that's not what he meant...the whole entry...

color logos in ice using transparencies

color logos in ice using transparencies

Need to create an ice sculpture incorporating a color logo or design? Printed color transparencies frozen into your sculptures offer a simple solution to a potentially challenging problem. Check out a couple of methods that will add a splash of color to your ice.the whole entry...

using glitter in ice

ice sculptures colored with glitter

Glitter can be incorporated into ice sculpture coloring techniques, potentially resulting in more vivid, eye-catching color in your ice sculptures. Get the details on this ice carving technique, originally posted on the previous version of ice carving secrets.the whole entry...


Dawson List stands with his 9 foot tall ice sculpture of Drew Brees in Alaska.

Wait, I thought this was ice sculpting, not snow sculpting. The truth is, snow is just ice of another color. And white snow against clear ice offers a fantastic opportunity for contrast. Ok, so how do you make snow? You know, when there’s none outside.the whole entry...

shop talk from Ice Pro: CNC basics

Lianne Rimer of Ice Pro Ice Sculptures in Florida
Lianne Rimer stands behind a color logo CNC machined into an oversized “Monster” block.

Today, we’re going to try something a little different than the usual. Joe and Lianne Rimer of Ice Pro have agreed to make regular contributions to ice carving secrets. Here is their first article. Look for more in the near future!

In an effort to share with the ice community, we at Ice Pro will be bringing a new subject to ice carving secrets on a monthly basis. The information we provide will be based on observations made by our team during our time both as ice sculpture manufacturers and competition carvers.

In this first article we would like to talk about CNC routers use as we see it in the ice field. We would also like to delve into the difference between flatbeds and 3D ice router CNCs. We are not going to discuss which brands we think are the best, or try to steer you toward one or the other. This article deals strictly with our observations of each machine’s strengths and weaknesses and offers basic insights. A CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) is basically a router that will cut on three axes to produce a two dimensional or three dimensional sculpture. The design is generated on a software program on your computer and then sent to the machine. Often it is the misconception that this process makes carving quicker and easier. More often, it has been our experience that using a CNC can actually take longer than just hand cutting a standard piece. The time alone creating a design can be two to three times longer than the time it would take to create a template and cut it by hand.

Where the CNC makes its pay

By producing pieces that could not be produced cost effectively by hand

Some of these examples are sorbet dishes, shot glasses, Tiered trays, and platters that need level ice removal (spiral pocketing) while retaining a lip, small centerpieces, etc.

By producing quality logos

A decent carver can create most logos that you see but for the amount of time they would spend in the freezer the CNC lends itself more efficiently to this process. It should also be noted that if you are doing complex sand filling at different levels so the colors touch, it would be nearly impossible without the use of a CNC.

As previously mentioned, creating a design for a standard three dimensional piece can be quite time consuming. However, once it’s complete and runs correctly it can be used again and again in the future. Even then, a really good swan will take upwards of 60 minutes to run and will still need to be detailed. The point is that this is not a get out of jail free card for the carver that does not want to work. The CNC only acts as another tool (albeit a really big one!). The art and design, and quite often the detail, all come from the mind and the capabilities of the carver, artist, or designer.

The most important part of a CNC’s use is the design that is created on the computer. Anyone who has used drawing aids and drawing programs on a computer knows how difficult creating a detailed drawing or design can be. When you add the three dimensional aspect it takes it to a whole new level of difficulty. Becoming proficient is not a quick process. When starting a design, the first task is to find proper photos or other artwork to base your design on. It is very helpful to have straight-on front, side and back views of your object. This will also help you visualize the proper dimensions for cutting at the proper scale. An even bigger help, of course, is to have a 3d object of the piece, such as a toy. You can then measure out the proportions to the scale of the block. Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you are only working with a 10” block. Pocketing away ice on both sides at varying planes may leave you with little ice! Because you are instructing the machine to cut in different dimensions, you need to instruct which layers to cut first, or some may not cut at all. Determining which parts of your design to cut first is aided by different colored layers in the software; which you designate, and then assign a cutting order to. The software has capabilities nearly as extensive as your imagination. However, it’s often not very user-friendly, and is better learned hands-on. (Expect a lot of trial and error.)

As we have stated there are basically two main types of CNCs in use. The following is some very basic information that will help you understand their strengths and fundamental differences. These descriptions are basic beginner level comments to help persons that have had little or no experience with CNCs gain some understanding.

The two most common CNCs and their strengths:


In this set-up the block or plate is laid flat on a bed and the router cuts it from above. Because gravity is on your side, this machine is great for logos, sorbets, centerpieces, shot glasses, and smaller pieces. The Z travel (depth you can cut) comes in a variety of ranges on these machines. Our system is set up to run up to 5” deep but there are flat beds that can cut full 10” thick blocks. Cutting full three dimensional ice sculptures on these machines can be cumbersome because of the fact that you have to get the block on the table and then remove the sculpture. Flatbeds also tend to have less three dimensional capabilities.


In this set up the block is slid in standing up, wedged and then cut while standing. The full block sculpture is cut from one side and then the block is turned around and the back side is cut. It has to be done this way because the deepest the end mill can cut is just a little over 5”. Also, there is a 5” area left at the bottom of the block that can not be cut since the block is standing. This area works fine in the majority of 3 dimensional designs as a base.Most of the smaller piece designs that we mention in the flat bed category can be run in a 3D CNC but it is trickier and requires some rigging. You also lose some of your cutting area on these designs because of the 5” blank area at the bottom.

If you are an ice carver that is contemplating going the direction of a CNC there are several factors you need to consider in moving forward:
  1. Determining which machine(s) you will purchase and the price.
  2. How you will produce slabs. We have a band saw but you can use a vertical cutting saw. If you are doing small volume with a CNC you can start with an Alaskan mill.
  3. Space for these items plus computer station.
  4. Additional monthly utility expense, not only for running the machine, but also for the additional freezer space it requires, and operating a 25 degree freezer. We run separate freezers for holding product at a lower temperature.
  5. Control of humidity. Even with walking through additional freezers to go to the freezer that runs our machines, we battle with humidity. This can really mess with your machine’s production.

Having both types is very helpful to our business. Interestingly we find that we usually have an equal amount of work for both machines, but when the work load gets lopsided we usually will alter a design to run in the machine it is less suited for. Hopefully this sheds a little light on some basic CNC information. If you have questions about our experience with our machines please feel free to e-mail us at Iceprofl@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Lianne and Joe Rimer

Ice Pro produces CNC ice work for the following quality Ice Sculptors
Ice Carvers Choice, serving Memphis and the Mid South
ice dragon, serving Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle
Arctic Ice, serving Greater Tampa Bay
All Star Ice, serving Orlando and the Florida East Coast
Brentons, serving Naples and Ft. Myers, FL
And we directly produce sculptures for the Florida West Coast from Sarasota/Bradenton south

If you are a quality sculptor interested in affordable high quality CNC product shipped to your location please visit our web site at www.iceprofl.com and/ or contact us at Iceprofl@hotmail.com

We also have Clinebell ice blocks and ice bowls available, as well as our specialty oversized Monster ice blocks.

man vs. machine; round 2

comparing a hand carved vs. a machine carved Presidential Seal ice sculpture

Gee, who do you think did a better job of carving this intricate snowfill design with lots of symmetrical shapes and smallish lettering? If this is a mystery to you, then you should definitely read on...the whole entry...

ice portraits

a color ice portrait of Ellen DeGeneres

frozen visages that you might recognizethe whole entry...

monster ice blocks

Lianne Rimer with a large color logo ice carving

ice blocks that are bigger than the norm and why they’re awesomethe whole entry...

gels for color

ice dragon ice sculpture with blue and magenta lighting

“Did you use colored ice?”
“Nope, I just shined colored lighting at it.”

How to get just the right colors.the whole entry...

moving ice: handtrucks

a plastic handtruck

It doesn’t get much respect, but a good handtruck is sometimes vital to get your ice sculptures and your ice blocks where they need to go in one piece!the whole entry...

affordable ice carving instruction

an ice sculpture of an upside-down bicycle rider by Rich Bubin

Tradeshows and workshops are one way to get good ice sculpting instruction at a great price.the whole entry...

Brice seminar photos

During a Brice ice sculpting seminar, an ice sculptor smooths a sculpted head.

Steve and Heather Brice, world champion ice sculptors, put on an ice sculpting seminar in Philadelphia. Here are some pics.the whole entry...

“How it’s Made” video

A very useful and watchable video segment on how some ice sculptures are made from the Discover and/or Science channel.the whole entry...

Taisin ice ball press

Taisin ice molding machines

A couple of versions of the somewhat revolutionary way for anybody (with a little cash) to make their own, practically perfect, ice balls. Or, in this case, ice soccer balls, a geometric shape, etc.the whole entry...

aluminum welding video added

welding pieces of ice together with the help of warmed aluminum plate

Demonstrating how to expand the size of the ice block by using the aluminum plate ice welding method.the whole entry...

Steve Brice seminar almost sold out

These seminars happened a long time ago, but maybe we could convince Steve and Heather to put on more!the whole entry...


serpent and bottle ice carving

When you’re sculpting ice outside and Mother Nature has a hand in things, sometimes even the best laid plans go awry. And when you don’t have the best plan, but still a pretty good plan, then watch out!the whole entry...

quick tips 6 archive

ice carvers like the Makita GE0600 electric die grinder

another small collection of ice carving tips and tricksthe whole entry...

why the dotted lines?

dotted lines on an ice carving template

Here’s an ice sculpting template for carving a rectangular shape that looks an awful lot like a raw ice block. But don’t carve the dotted lines...the whole entry...

quick tips archive 5

ice sculptors like the Makita GE0600 electric die grinder

the fifth small collection of short ice sculpting tips and tricksthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 4

a Makita GE0600 die grinder with bits used for ice carving

the fourth small collection of short ice sculpting tipsthe whole entry...

quick tips archive 3

a Makita die grinder with bits used for ice carving

Quick solutions to small ice sculpting problemsthe whole entry...

freezing items into ice blocks

a wire grid holds bottles in place as they're frozen into a block of ice

Precisely freezing items into ice blocks can be challenging. Here are a few tricks that can help you get the job done.the whole entry...

quick tips archive 2

a Makita die grinder with bits that work for ice sculpting

archiving little nuggets of ice sculpting wisdom so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way too...the whole entry...

sculpting spheres from ice

a 2 inch ice ball from an ice ball mold

There are a variety of ways to cut almost perfect and not-so-perfect (but maybe close enough) spheres from ice. Take a look.the whole entry...

preserving ice sculptures for transport

fish out of water ice sculpture

Getting an ice sculpture from the freezer to the event can be the toughest part of all...the whole entry...

the nailboard

Brice nailboard blog entry preview image

The nailboard is one of the most useful hand tools available to ice sculptors and is often a must for assembling multi-block sculptures.the whole entry...

quick tips archive 1

a Makita die grinder with bits that work for sculpting ice

archiving little tidbits of ice sculpting wisdom so that you don’t have to learn them the hard way too...the whole entry...

printing your own ice sculpture templates WITHOUT a large format printer

how to make an ice sculpture template using your computer and regular inkjet printerthe whole entry...

ice block splitting video

a straightforward video demonstrating a really important ice sculpting technique: splitting an ice block with a chainsawthe whole entry...

welding ice with aluminum plate

welding ice with aluminum blog entry preview

Using aluminum plate to weld pieces of ice together is a vital technique for the modern ice sculptor. Learn more this method that can enable you to create ice sculptures that extend well outside the dimensions of the ice block with strong, nearly invisible ice welds.the whole entry...

tubing tricks for ice luges and display trays

vinyl tubing used for ice luges, along with a converted ice luge funnel

This simple trick can help you deal with ice sculpture plumbing issues, whether with tube ice luges or with ice carving display tray drainage.the whole entry...

"stars of the party": the ice sculpture design process

stars of the party ice sculpture design

This is a quick look at the steps necessary to take a rough ice sculpture design from drawing to ice.the whole entry...

inexpensive clear plastic ice luge funnels

clear plastic glassware that can be used as funnels for ice luges

Inexpensive party glassware can be converted to funnels for use in tube ice luges.the whole entry...

stars luge: making an ice luge out of almost any ice sculpture

the Stars ice sculpture design converted to an ice luge

This is a basic procedure to convert an ice sculpture into an ice luge.the whole entry...

ice sculpting steps

stylized seahorse ice sculpture in New Mexico

To get a better understanding of what it takes to create an ice sculpture, I've broken down the lifecycle of a typical ice sculpture into five discrete steps: design, execution, preservation & transportation, display, & breakdown.the whole entry...

dealing with fractures in ice

A large ice block with many fractures in Fairbanks, Alaska

Covering some of the basic information about why and when ice blocks fracture and how you can avoid it or deal with it when it happens.the whole entry...

ice block basics, part two

Louisiana brown pelican ice sculpture set up in Baton Rouge

Covering some of the basic information about ice blocks for ice sculpting. (part two of two)the whole entry...

ice block basics, part one

Gabriel ice sculpture in Luebeck, Germany (approximately 10' tall)

Covering some of the basic information about ice blocks for ice sculpting. (part one of two)the whole entry...

broken ice sculpture repair

brown pelican ice sculpture

What do you do when you accidentally break a sculpture? How do you handle a broken ice sculpture?the whole entry...

don't be a drip: water control

dragonfly ice sculpture on display at a hotel

So when your ice sculpture starts to melt, where is the water going to end up? Will it all end up in the display tray and under control?the whole entry...

cutting corners

U.S. Presidential Seal ice sculpture at an event for President Clinton in New Orleans

Circular ice sculptures can pose several problems, both in creation and in transportation and set up. Adding temporary "handles" can help you handle some of the problems.the whole entry...

extreme detail

dragon ice sculpture with blue lighting

With extra effort (and in the right environment) you can give your ice sculptures extensive and delicate detail that will take it to the extreme.the whole entry...

seeing ice in color

dragon ice sculpture with blue lighting

How do you color an ice sculpture? There are a variety of ways to give your ice a splash of color...the whole entry...

attention to detail

mermaid ice sculpture at a wedding

At most events, ice sculptures melt. In places where the ice doesn't melt, people are less likely to have parties, so most of the time, the ice is going to melt. And when it melts, the detail fades, sometimes quickly. But you can extend the life of the detail on your sculptures.the whole entry...

how long does an ice carving last?

an ice sculpture bust of Napoleon Bonaparte

One of the most common questions an ice sculptor gets is "How long will it last?" Just to see the look on their face, my first answer is often "at least 20 to 30 minutes." But in truth, it depends on a lot of different factors, not just temperature.the whole entry...

keep your ice from sliding

an ice sculpture depicting an eagle on a pedestal

Even though you often want your ice sculptures to have an element of dynamic realism, you still don't want them to move. Read on to find out some ways to keep your ice carvings in one place while on display.the whole entry...

when ice falls 4

Junichi Nakamura works on Ancestral Spirit at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships

Junichi Nakamura works on “Ancestral Spirit” in Fairbanks at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships. While working on “Ancestral Spirit” earlier in the competition, I had my closest brush with major injury as an ice sculptor.the whole entry...

carving with Junichi

Dawson List and Shinichi Sawamura stand before an unfinished ice sculpture in Fairbanks, AK

Carving on the team of world champion ice sculptor Junichi Nakamura was quite an experience at the 2004 World Ice Art Championships.the whole entry...

when ice falls 3

leaping ballerina ice sculpture

On occasion, you might see an ice sculpture that’s carved so that it looks like it could fall. But at a special event like a wedding or a party that should only be an illusion; there should be no real danger. On the other hand, at a competition, the danger of collapse is often very real. And sometimes, gravity wins.the whole entry...

when ice falls 2

a plane ice sculpture is set up in an airplane hangar

A sculpture set up in the wrong place can fall prematurely if a carver doesn’t pay attention to the conditions.the whole entry...

when ice falls

blocks of ice are stacked to make a seafood presentation at a wedding

Any ice sculpture, if left alone long enough, will fall down, usually because of melting. Accordingly, most get taken down before that can happen. But ice sculptures sometimes fall down for other reasons...the whole entry...

thinking outside the block

ice sculptor Dawson List welds a wing onto an ice sculpture of an American eagle

Often, it’s necessary to add pieces of ice to a sculpture as many designs won’t fit within the confines of an ice block. This makes it possible to carve almost anything you can imagine from ice...the whole entry...

ice sculpture design: silhouette

designing ice sculptures for silhouette blog preview

Avoid the dreaded “What is it?” question and give your ice sculptures strong silhouettes!the whole entry...
© 2006-2014 Dawson List & ice carving secrets: contact