Ice Wrangler's Ice Luminary Woods Walk at Ice Castles New Hampshire
The creators of Ice Castles like the idea of adding more features to their incredibly successful winter entertainment parks so guests go home with even more marvelous memories and photos. So, when they asked if I would be interested in building an ice luminary woodland walk (like Middlemoon Creekwalk) off the edge of their New Hampshire ice castle, I jumped at the chance. The concept presented was that their builders would create a new snow floor trail off the courtyard area of the castle and I would make and install shimmering orbs and sheets of ice that could be illuminated by candles and brightly-colored LED lights along the path.
Before I arrived, Travis, who is one of the master ice castle builders on staff, created and prepped the walkway. I requested a hairpin shape where guests would walk in to find a circular walk and then return to the ice castle courtyard on the same trail. Travis did a beautiful job weaving the trail through and around trees.
For an even closer look at the Woods Walk area.
As I only had a few days to create all the ice and build the sculptures, when I arrived on Sunday night, I immediately began preparing buckets and PVC pipes to create textured ice luminaries, see Doormat Ice Lantern (p 113) and Open-bottom Ice Lantern (p 35) and Finnish Glass Ice Lantern (p 157) of my book, Ice Luminary Magic (ILM).
Note: In my rush to pick up supplies, I opted for orange bubble wrap instead of my regular clear which I use as a texture creator in lieu of the rubber doormat as seen in the Doormat Ice Lantern. But it was a bad idea. Small pieces of plastic can get stuck in the ice which proved problematic.
On Monday, my goal was to fill all the buckets and PVC pipes with water and set out to freeze, create and fill ice glass (ILM p45) pools near the walk site and make as many large globe ice lanterns (ILM p29) as I could.
The first night had good freezing temps, so the next morning, with Travis to help, we pulled a ton of ice glass out of the pools and moved it up to the woods. But I knew we would need more, so I asked Tom, assistant manager of the NH Ice Castles, if he could set up one of their landscape sprayers over some fresh snow overnight to create what I call "Bubble Ice". (I discovered Bubble Ice a few years ago while doing some ice work for the New Hampshire Ice Castle when it was at the Loon Mountain location. I was walking around the back of the castle and noticed that when water overspray landed on snow and froze it created sheets of undulating ice with millions of ice marbles glued to it. To harvest it, all one needs to do is pull up large pieces of ice, scrape off as much snow as possible and then use a torch to get the rest of the snow. When lit with candles of LED lights, it looks amazing!)
Tom found a great spot and set up the sprayers, so the next morning Travis and I harvested some very nice large sheets to mix in with the other ice glass. The goal was to assemble some sheets of both types of ice glass into 4 very large flame-like structures and light the up with projectable LED lights that are made to look like fire. The texture of the Bubble Ice lit with fire lights can be seen in the photo below, taken by Totem Faehy (Instagram) who visited the Ice Castles NH on Friday night. Totem also took the first photo in this blog. He was able to really capture the orange glow of the LED lights. Thank you to Totem for taking such beautiful photos!
Below: Totem also captured my favorite ice texture, lines that are etched into the ice created by the sun. This texture was probably found on one of the larger sheets of regular ice glass.
In between the large ice flames I decided to take whatever ice I had been able to create, either bucket lanterns or globe ice lanterns, and make small vignettes of candle lit sculptures. Totem captured one of them below . . .
I had filled a very large inflatable mold with water and put it out to freeze into what I thought would be a very funky ice lantern, but alas, the warmer temps did not let it freeze completely. When I attempted to open it, it was not thick enough to hold itself together and broke into pieces. Given my rule of using broken ice, I picked up the pieces and made a fabulous ice flower!
This winter has been one for icicles—in Minnesota there are icicles on almost every building. The same was true for New Hampshire. So I decided to harvest some to build an Icicle Castle (ILM p70) and then light it with candles. Travis pulled down the biggest off the ice castle builder's house—it was 7 feet long! More icicles were found around the castle and we put them into place around a candle.
There was a huge pile of sticks along the edge of the path from when Travis created the pathway and I was thinking of hauling them away but a wonderfully creative builder, Aisling, had the great idea to make them into a nest filled with globe ice lanterns. The sticks were lit with a string of LED lights and the globes with candles! Ryan Glenhirsch, who also visited the Ice Castles NH on Friday night posted a great picture of the nest . . .
The hairpin shape of the trail created an area that would be accessible to guests, so I wanted the ice in that area to be interesting and candlelit, but indestructible. I was told the castle had a few blocks of ice that are meant to be carved by ice sculptors and they are heavy-duty and big—40" x 20" x 10". I decided they might be perfect for that area. I asked Travis, who is very skilled at the chainsaw, to slice two of the sculptural blocks into 8 slices that were 2" x 10" x 40". With those pieces, I would build 4 tall ice towers. The tops were left uneven to make them look more natural. They threw the candlelight nicely and once they were iced into place, I couldn't push them over. Perfect.
Aisling, who assembled most of the square towers, decided that there should be a short footpath leading through the central area that winds its way through the towers. We both agreed that it would allow for a fun way to interact with the ice and encourage people to stay on the trail. Kids loved it!
It was challenging creating and installing all this ice in just 5 days, but with the help of Travis, Aisling and Tom, we did it. We lit it up for the first time on February 22, and Aisling and I walked the paths of the Woods Walk with crowds of happy people and we soaked up the positive energy. Will we do it again next year? We will have to wait and see. But with the great building crew and even more time to plan, it certainly feels like a beautiful complement to the towers, slides and tunnels of the magical Ice Castles.
Did you see it?
If you were at the Ice Castles New Hampshire and walked through the woodland walk, I would love to hear feedback and see photos!
Enjoy the Glow!
-- Jennifer Shea Hedberg, The Ice Wrangler
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