Cutting the ice

| 22 Feb 2012 | 01:41

By John Church SPARTA — A sculpture slowly appeared from a crystal clear block of ice 6:30 a.m. Thursday outside of the Sussex County Technical School. Using tools commonly found in woodworking shops and horror movies, culinary arts instructor Chad Gasiorek of Shohola, Pa., turned a 300-pound block of ice into a banquet centerpiece. “The block is 40 inches tall, 20 inches wide and 10 inches thick,” said Gasiorek. “The chainsaw is used for the bulk removal.” The $40 block is made by a special process giving it an unusual bubble-free clarity, unlike the cloudy ice that usually forms on Sussex County lakes in winter. The block is so clear because they have vibrators in the machine so the bubbles vibrate out of it,” said Gasiorek. “It takes about three days to make a block of ice.” The block was transformed into a banquet attraction in an hour. “This is what I call a buffet piece,” said Gasiorek of the swan perched on a heart. “You make them thicker so they last a while. This will last about four hours inside.” The piece was being created for the Warren County Technical School Winter Gala. “I was asked by John Mylecraine, the Student Council Advisor, to make this piece for their semi-formal dance.” Putting down the chainsaw, Gasiorek added fine details to the sculpture with a die grinder equipped with one of several special bits. “There are shaping bits, cones, and V bits to add detail,” said Gasiorek.”Each bit is between $70 and $100.” The thicker, less fine detailed pieces are made to add atmosphere to a banquet and to last several hours before melting away. Other pieces are made as longer lasting, artistic displays. Competitive carving Crystal Cabin Fever is ice carving event in Lakeville, Penn., running through Feb. 26. “Competition pieces are a lot different,” said Gasiorek. “You want to be as detailed and as close to realistic as possible with competition pieces.” Another class of competitive ice carving is the speed category. “This year the theme is African Safari,” said Gasiorek. “There are 10 categories they are going to pick from. There are only five rounds and every round someone gets eliminated.” Gasiorek explained many ice carvers got their start as chefs. A chef cannot spend hours on an ice carving and ignore the other tasks of a busy kitchen. “It is just not feasible.” While Gasiorek spent an hour on the Warren County sculpture, the speed competition is an extreme example of working quickly. Very quickly. “After they pick the category you get 20 minutes to work,” said Gasiorek. “There is not going to be a lot of detail. Much of the work is done with a chain saw.” Crystal Cabin Fever competition event details can be found at Early experience As a child Gasiorek used frozen water as a creative medium to build snowmen. “I never thought I’d be carving ice,” Gasiorek said.