When Premiere Magazine chose the film Polar Express staring Tom Hanks for the cover photo and movie article in June 2004, it turned out to be an ice chair and some really cold cheeks.
What Tom didn't know, until I prepped him, was that the ice chair was put together in pieces so if you leaned back too hard or pushed out on the arms, the whole thing could fall apart! Of course many jokes were made about me setting him up for disaster when I told him./p>
All joking aside, he sat in the chair for almost ten minutes as the photos were being taken, with me on my knees just out of frame, spotting in case the chair fell apart. Finally, when his backside went numb and the wool was soaked, he stood up and started slapping his rear repeatedly saying, "I'm frozen, feel this."
Since I was right next to him – and there sincerely was a good chance he was talking to me – I figured what the heck, and playfully slapped him hard on his cold wet butt. It really was frozen, and firm too. I think he was surprised. I know I was. Really, it's not everyday that you slap Tom Hanks on the butt.
Ice furniture has long been a fascination of most people. Some venues, like the ice hotel in Jakkasjarvi, Sweden, make their living with it. Almost any piece can be replicated. Moving it around is the difficult part.
I've made many large chairs, tables, sofas, lounges, fireplaces, walls, 10-foot columns, and ice chandeliers. Normally, they are built in place for an event or film shoot. This sometimes poses difficulties with keeping pieces together when people start climbing all over them.
There is a solution for ice furniture that needs to be as usable as it is visually stimulating. By grafting/constructing the ice blocks together and then refreezing it, the pieces become one and will stay together longer. The trick then becomes how to move it around.
Using the large chair that Tom Hanks posed in as an example, there were pieces from 5 ice blocks used in its construction. Standard Clinebell clear ice blocks are 20"x40"x10" and weigh close to 300 pounds. By building the chair on a standard plywood-topped pallet equipped with caster wheels, it could be rolled in and out of a large walk-in freezer. In the freezer, the separate pieces would freeze together and make the chair into one solid piece. Though Tom's finished chair weighed over 800 pounds, it could easily be moved with a fork-lift or pallet jack – or in a pinch, by 4 strong men.
If you'd like to have a summer party with ice chairs and other furniture by the pool, we can do it. It's just going to require some logistics and I don't think Tom Hanks will be there. LA ICE ART also features water-proof under-lighting, which always brings ice sculptures to life.
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