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Midwest Living Magazine Cover November/December 2020

In February of 2020, we collaborated on an ice installation with Midwest Living Magazine and near the end of October we had heard that a copy of the magazine had been mailed to our house. I was, of course, very excited to see the article, so the next morning, when Tom woke me out of a deep sleep with the words, "It's the cover . . .", my eyes popped open and I said, "What! Show me!" This is mind blowing! That was my first thought when I discovered that the nice article about ice luminaries, which I assumed would be found somewhere in the middle of the magazine, turned out to be the cover!

But first things first—the photographers! Because ice luminaries are ethereal and beautiful, having a talented photographer to capture their magic is essential. The amazing photos on the cover and in the article were taken by a Minneapolis-based photo team, Jenn Ackerberg + Tim Gruber. They were so focused and fun—a great work combination. Prior to the shoot, we discussed that taking photos of ice lanterns can be a challenge as it is all about timing, with dusk and dawn being the two best options. We wisely opted to disrupt our dinners over setting up in the dark. I was very concerned that there was not enough time to take all the pictures they needed, but they did it—so incredibly beautiful! 

Four types of ice lanterns together ice by the Wintercraft Ice Wrangler

Second—the magazine staff! In early discussions with Hannah Agran, the editor, and her editorial team, they said they wanted to treat my book, Ice Luminary Magic, like a cookbook for ice which fit perfectly with my goals in writing it. They wanted to include some basic "recipes" to get the readers excited about trying this wonderful winter craft. I thought that was a great idea, so we included how-to's for a globe ice lantern, a bucket ice lantern, an ice lantern made in a PVC pipe and a teardrop shaped ice lantern. All are basic and relatively easy, and in combination, well, you can see how they look. Just like a bouquet of flowers, the different shapes complement each other and make the arrangement more interesting. 

Grouping of ice luminarias by The Ice Wrangler of Wintercraft

We agreed that I should choose a home nearby to decorate, so I drove around my neighborhood in Minneapolis taking pictures of homes with character and a curved walkway. I sent the magazine scores of options and the editors whittled it down to 3. The next step was asking the homeowners if we could descend on their front yard and bedazzle their home with ice lanterns for a photo shoot. Sadly, the first on the list had some logistical issues, so we moved to the second. It turned out to be perfect—whimsical in structure with multi-colored glass in the windows, a high peaked entry, a fabulous carved-wood door and an elegantly curved walkway. The residents were thrilled with the idea and so we moved ahead.

On the day of the shoot, the magazine sent Erin Keeffer, who was the on-scene art director. She came full of energy and joined right in with prepping the site and installing ice lanterns. She also brought treats which is the sign of true genius.

Thirdthe writer! Lisa Meyers McClintick had written an article about me a few years ago, so when she called to say she had been selected to write the article for Midwest Living Magazine and would like to interview me, it was talking to an old friend. We laughed about the joys of life, we lamented about Covid, then we got down to business. In reading the article now, I feel as though she truly captured the magic of making and arranging ice lanterns! Right off the bat she grabs you, "As temperatures plunge and indigo twilight descends, Jennifer Shea Hedberg zips up her parka and steps outside. She crouches, and a candle flickers to life, illuminating a spherical ice lantern. Trapped inside the crystal ball, sprays of tiny bubbles burst like frozen fireworks." That's perfect!   

Fourth—help from family and friends! My husband Tom is my constant. He always lends a hand if needed. So, when he noticed me stressing about this or that, he offered to make all the globe ice lanterns so I could focus on the other shapes of ice. He's definitely a keeper. Here's what he made and brought to the shoot house!

Globe ice lantern production for Midwest Living Shoot by Tom Hedberg

Below is my teardrop-shaped ice lantern set-up for when the sun is shining and threatening to melt one side of the ice lanterns.

The Ice Wrangler's teardrop ice lantern set up Wintercraft

Then there is my buddy Dave Schaenzer. A retired engineer, he's handy in tricky situations. For instance, we wanted the front door framed with garlands and lights, but we could not use wire and/or nails. In typical Dave fashion, we went to the hardware store and hacked out a solution. And, as you can see (below: photo taken by Dave when the light was ALMOST perfect!), the garland looks amazing! Plus, no damage to the stucco siding!

Dave Schaenzer's photo of the house front with ice luminarias arranged by the Ice Wrangler of Wintercraft

Last but not least—the ice! I had sent some suggestions for how I would set up the ice lanterns for this house to the magazine editors and they sent back some ideas for alterations. It was an easy back and forth to a great solution. Below is the original concept mock up. Can you find the differences between the two photos?

Ice Wrangler mockup for Midwest Living Magazine

With my marching orders for installing the ice in hand, it was easy to prepare and store the ice needed until the day of the shoot. We set it up according to the plan and it looked amazing! (Spoiler alert: They photoshopped in the model with a dog to create a scene. Whoever thought of that idea gets a prize from me. It really brings it all to life.)

Before I sign off: There was also a question of what to call these magical creations of ice. Are they "ice lanterns", "ice candles", "ice luminaries" or "ice luminarias"? It's enough of an issue that I felt the need to specify how I was going to use the terms in my book, Ice Luminary Magic. I described that a single ice lantern was, you got it, an "ice lantern" or "ice luminary". With a grouping of illuminated ice, I would use the term "ice luminary sculpture".  The MLM writer and editors decided on "ice luminarias" which startled me at first as I've always associated the term "luminarias" with warm weather and sand-filled bags. But it works. I'm beginning to love it! Maybe it's the beautiful photos, but I'm starting to sway their direction. In fact, maybe we should call the Globe Ice Lantern Kits, "Globe Ice Luminaria Kits" . . . well, then we would have to redo the packaging, yada, yada. I think we should stick with the old name . . . for now. But it does beg the question, "What do you call your ice creations? 

The Ice Wrangler Jennifer Shea Hedberg

This photo of me was taken shortly after we set up and we were all waiting for the light to become that beautiful winter twilight blue. I have a big grin on my face because the stunning ice lantern I am holding did not make it into the photo shoot and I was delighted it was going to share the limelight! (The ice lantern was made using the Open-Bottom Ice Lantern project found on page 35 of my book.)

So, if you are a long-time Wintercraft ice lantern creator or a first-time visitor to my Ice Wrangler blog, welcome and I hope you pick up a copy of Midwest Living Magazine to enjoy the labors of our collective hard work. It was a joy!

 Enjoy the Glow!


-- Jennifer Shea Hedberg, The Ice Wrangler, @icewrangler


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