Friday, December 29, 2006

library books

I picked up Ice Carving Made Easy, Practical Ice Carving, and Ice Sculpting the Modern Way from the local library. I have finished the first two but am still working my way through the third. So far, I haven't encountered very many insights that I hadn't figured out already, but a few tidbits have stood out.

Ice Carving Made Easy contained a couple of interesting points. One was the description of steam cutting in chapter three. Both Lars and I have been experimenting recently with cutting ice by bringing it in contact with metal tubing carrying hot fluids. According to the book, using steam in this manner is "still preferred by some carvers accustomed to older techniques" despite its slowness.

Chapter One, The History of Ice Carving, of the book includes some interesting details of the ice palace commissioned by Empress Anna Ivanovna in 1739.

"Inside, every detail was carved from ice. The highlight was a translucent clock with all of its interior mechanisms detailed, displayed on an ice table in the middle of the drawing room."

Could it have been a working clock? Considering that the palace was built some years after the invention of the Deadbeat Escapement, I think that it is possible. A clock of the size Lars and I hope to build would have been difficult with the technology of the time, as would a very small clock, but a table-top model would have been the most likely to succeed. Lending credence to the idea is the account of various other functional artifacts of ice:

"Six statues and an elaborate frontispiece graced the front entrance; two dolphins and one life-sized elephant fountain sprayed water 24 feet into the air. Two mortars and six cannons fashioned of ice were working replicas; they fired frequently. An ice-log bathhouse, also functional and used on occasion, completed the grounds."

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