Hi, Billy from Ice Lab. There is always a short answer and a long answer to the “how to” question. So let’s begin with the short answer. Freeze a big block of ice for 3 days. Take it out of the mold, chip, grind, and saw at it until it is beautiful. But, if that was all there was to it you wouldn't be reading. So let’s get started on the long answer.
First and foremost professional Ice Sculptors start with clear ice. Clear ice is near impossible to make at home so you should buy block Ice from your nearest ice house to start. If you insist on making the Ice yourself read “How do ice carvers make clear ice?”. Once you have a big block of ice we are gonna make a template. BOOOOOOOO, boring templates. The professionals will typically do this part with a CNC Machine. But, you are gonna do it with poster board. We are going to make our example an angelfish. Make the outline of the fish on your poster board and cut it out. Treat it like any other template fixing it in place (be creative without damaging the ice). Once the template is in place take something sharp and pointy and etch the ice so you can cut out your basic shape. The art begins next.
Break out your chainsaw. I should warn you of two things before you cut into your ice. Chainsaws are dangerous and Wood cutting chains are a bit aggressive for ice, though you can still use them. Now, cut out your template. I could give you lots of advice on how to cut out a template but what you really need to know is, get the feel for it before you approach the template lines. You will need to make multiple cuts to make curves, so be patient. Once you have reached a natural end with the chainsaw specialized tools really come in handy. But we are going to try and keep it to tools you might plausibly own.
Let's start with the angle grinder. Wear safety glasses, more than one person has lost an eye to an angle grinder. Make a half circle scale pattern with the angle grinder and cut some kind of eye. Then get out your wood chisels and pick a big one. Presumably your template has a base that is not part of the fish. We are going to give this base a rock pattern by using the wood chisel in a somewhat random pattern. Now you have a beautiful fish but it doesn't have that fluid appeal of pro ice carvings. TORCH TIME! To finish your sculpture lightly go over it with flame. This will smooth and hide imperfection of your work.
Congratulations, you are an ice sculptor. You now know 90% of our tricks. But we’ll never tell you the other 10%. I lied, the other 10% is practice. If you want to see it done, want a block to practice on or want a pro to do it for you, possibly live at an event, send us a filled out contact form. We will get back to you shortly.