Very Cold = Very Big Luminaries

Jennifer Shea Hedberg | 03 January, 2014

After several warm winters in Minnesota and beyond, it seems some of us have all forgotten that it is supposed to get cold at this time of year. And as a recent Globe Ice Lantern enthusiast told me recently, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. If you get cold weather, make ice globes!" My thoughts exactly . . .

But what most people overlook is that REALLY cold weather means you can make BIG frozen luminaries. I am talking about garbage-can-sized luminaries--topped with a Globe Ice Lantern of course. Now, the mercury does not need to descend into minus double digits to be able to freeze larger molds, but they certainly freeze faster. (A plastic garbage can filled with water will still take several days in below zero weather.) And if you have a mold that is weak or might not be able to withstand the freeze/thaw/refreeze process, now is the time in many parts of the country--there will be no thawing going on.

Before the fun begins, a few words of warning:

#1 Many of you are aware of this, but when it is extremely cold outside and you are using water, the mix of the two can be dangerous. If any part of your body gets wet, go inside immediately and put on dry clothes. If you have exposed skin, do not remain outdoors for too long. Frostbite is a real concern. The same warning is true anytime you are outside in cold weather, but it is especially true when it is in the negative degrees F.

#2 When freezing large containers, keep in mind that they will be heavy. That may seem obvious, but in order to be able to put a candle inside or use LED lights, they need to be drained of the water that you don't allow to freeze. If the ice becomes too thick you will not be able to lift/move them to be able to drain them without damaging the mold. BUT, if you don't mind destroying the mold, you can make then where you will use them. Plan on cutting the container off and then drill a hole in the bottom to drain the water. (Pressure will project the water, so move out of the way once the hole is drilled.) If the hole is big enough you can put that candle in the bottom that way or hang candles from the top.

#3 Dress in layers of non-cotton material! If you start to sweat, go inside, dry off and put on dry clothes.

So with all this crazy cold weather descending on us (certainly at Wintercraft HQ in Minnesota) let your creativity flow . . . but be safe and have fun.

Enjoy the Glow!

The above photo was taken by Rob Nopola of one of my luminary ice sculptures on the Twin Cities Luminary Loppet 2010 ski course. That was the year I was invited by the Luminary Director to make an area known as the "Enchanted Forest" (a little peninsula of land that stems into Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis) a more enticing place to ski during the race. Every year since, I have been pleased to see that the Enchanted Forest Crew and volunteers continue to use that area for small organically shaped ice luminaries and many Globe Ice Lanterns! It is a wonderful way to lead into the next area on the course—the magnificent ice tower luminaries of the IceCropolis.

It was a magnificent evening because of the cool (not cold) weather and the gift of a foot of snow just before the event. Several photos of that event can be found strewn through the Wintercraft website and specifically here. The colorful photo at the top of that page was taken by Bruce Challgren at that event.


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