image via Slate magazine Courtesy of Access China Travel

image via Slate magazine Courtesy of Access China Travel

It’s cold outside, around 9 degrees type of cold. Recent news of the amazing annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China has me dreaming of building my on gorgeous snow palace. As a designer the origins of objects always intrigue me and like most things, the awe inspiring ice palaces come from a humble begining. Through research I discovered ice lanterns originated in a winter-time tradition in northeast China during the Qing Dynasty (1644 to 1911) where fisherman and peasants made and used the ice lanterns as a jack-lights, a type of lure used when night hunting or fishing. To make them, blocks of ice were formed from pouring water into buckets, waiting for it to harden and then chiseling out a hollow spot for a candle…viola an instant wind proof lantern.  Over time the ice lanterns were recognized for their beauty and went from being strictly functional to an elevated art form.

According to the festival organizers, the festival takes considerable effort to pull off…nearly 10,00 workers were employed to build the ice and snow sculptures, which required about and 492,000 square feet of snow.  Check out the The Washington Post photo's of this labor intensive process. 

Interested in making your own ice lantern? Here’s a simple video tutorial I found on the internet that closely resembles the bucket methods used during Qing Dynasty.

Better yet, want to go and check it check out www.fest300.com for their coverage and advice. I’ve definitely added it to my bucket list (pun intended).

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