Ice Sculpture

10 02 2012

This rather cold winter weather that has arrived has given LBM so many opportunities to explore on a big scale. Even though the first dump of snow was fairly short lived, LBM asked to make some more snow ice cream. I went out onto the roof terrace to see what snow was left and discovered very little, mainly icy snow. But I also discovered the large lump of ice which had formed in a trug. That had more potential for exploring something interesting on a bigger scale than an ice cube so I changed his plan! We spent a while exploring the shape of it and looking at the thin piece round the edge that had lots of cracks in it. It was a lovely sunny day too so the ice really sparkled and picked up the light. I’d made some coloured ice cubes the morning it had first snowed using food colouring but they didn’t freeze in time so this was a good opportunity to use them.

LBM added the ice using tongs (and his winter Olympics mittens because this was serious winter sport!) and began mixing salt in. We used a combination of rock salt used to keep the path clear and table salt which was easier for him to pour. When you first add it the ice crackles and starts to melt almost immediately. If you’re very lucky you create steaming reactions. The tongs and spades were used to hack and smash the ice but he soon realised that there was effort involved in that and resorted to pouring more salt. The addition of the pipettes and liquid water colours made it an even more exciting exploration. I find pipettes are highly intriguing to small children and they love collecting colour and squeezing it out. Squeezing the paint down the gullies and cracks created by the salt melting the ice is just as intriguing. LBM spent nearly a full hour engrossed in pouring, smashing, digging, hacking, squeezing and we revisited the ice again and again over the course of the day. The table salt also froze so we discussed what else we could add to melt the ice and used some hot water. By the time LBM went to bed we still had a largish lump of ice but holes had appeared in it all the way through to the bottom. Some of the melting gullies had collected pools of paint so there were little coloured lakes in it too.

Both LBM and I enjoyed this and it really helped that we’d watched an episode of Frozen Planet with David Attenborough the weekend before. They’d explored ice caves and melting ice bergs so this brought the whole thing to life. Now I’m going to have to go and fill the trug up so we can do it again. Let’s hope it stays cold because I don’t have space in the freezer to make another one without the weather’s support!

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