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Ice Men Cometh to Gaylord Palms

December 7, 2012 by · Comments Off on Ice Men Cometh to Gaylord Palms 

Chinese artisan carves Santa

A Chinese artisan carves Santa At Gaylord Palms

For the past ten years, Gaylord Palms Resort near Orlando has turned their convention center into the ‘Florida Fridge’. The event begins to take shape in October, when 40 Chinese artisans and their cook arrive from Harbin, China. The ice men cometh to carve two million pounds of frozen water into a frosty fantasyland. The job takes approximately one month to complete.

Originally only crystal-clear ice was used, created by filtering de-ionized water for three days. Then, colored ice blocks were developed by adding food coloring. The process is not as easy as it sounds; the mixture must be stirred constantly to obtain consistent color. Making white ice is easiest, just freeze quickly for a cloudy look.

In previously years, I’ve walked through the finished attraction and highly recommend it get into a holiday mood. However, this year I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see ICE under construction.

Sawing ice blocks

Sawing ice blocks

Working on ICE

Working on ICE

 

The themed project starts with detailed architectural blueprints. Measurements are transferred and marked off on the floor, like a home building site. Ice blocks start arriving from the factory at a rate of two truck loads a day for 15 days. Each block weighs 400 pounds, so must be moved around by a forklift.

 

 

 

 

Workers begin to assemble the blocks, adding special fluorescent lights between some of the pieces and cutting others with chain saws. I saw a small square block placed on a larger rectangular piece, which would eventually become a head on a body. The sculptors denote points to guide them as they work like Michelangelo. Each artist brings his own set of tools, akin to a chef and his knives, including a variety of rakes, chisels, picks and trowels.

ICE under construction at Gaylord Palms

ICE under construction at Gaylord Palms

The temperature in the room hovers around nine-degrees, so carvers wear warm boots, coats, hats and gloves. (You should, too, although Gaylord provides oversized parkas.) They grapple through four-hour shifts with a warm-up break outside. I was cold after half an hour, but the Chinese are rugged. Harbin temperatures’ average only two degrees in the winter and sometimes plummet to -36. No wonder these men enjoy Florida’s balmy weather.

This year’s theme is Merry Madagascar taken from the Dreamworks’ movie. All scenes and characters are constructed entirely from ice, even the popular interactive slides. No wooden supports or iron beams are used.

ICE! featuring DreamWorks' Merry Madagascar at Gaylord Palms Resort

ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar at Gaylord Palms Resort

The only scene to be repeated, since this event began, remains the magnificent life-size nativity, created from sparkling crystal-clear cubes. One artist, chosen by fellow sculptors, receives the honor of carving the largest angel.

If you haven’t seen ICE, make the drive to Orlando and treat yourselves and the kids to one ‘cool’ outing.

Crystal clear nativity figures at ICE

Crystal clear nativity figures at ICE

 

For further information and tickets: www.gaylordhotels.com

Read about my previous visit to ICE: Delicious Fun with Gingy at Gaylord Palms

 

 

Terracotta Warriors are Terrific, but Marching On

April 9, 2009 by · Comments Off on Terracotta Warriors are Terrific, but Marching On 

Terracotta Warriors Exhibit

Terracotta Warriors Exhibit

My daughter, the critic, is rather hard to please.  So when she called to say, “Mom, the terracotta warriors were terrific,” I was happy.

The museum had this cool video that showed how the soldiers were made,” she added.

And my husband, not the biggest fan of galleries, wholeheartedly agreed. “The visit was fascinating and well worth our time,” he said.

The exhibition comes from one of the greatest archaeological digs of the 20th century, the unearthing of China’s First Emperor’s terracotta army in Xian.  Initially discovered in 1974, more than 9,000 figures were buried for 2,000 years.  The excavations are ongoing, but these pieces exhibited are on loan from the Chinese government.

I was disappointed that I was unable to go to Atlanta, but on Laura’s rating alone, I can honestly recommend the show.  Now hurry, the soldiers are marching on.  They leave Atlanta’s High Museum on April 20, 2009.

Those who live near Houston, Texas can make plans to view them at their Museum of Natural Science after May 22. The last US opportunity to examine the statues will be from November 19, 2009–March 31, 2010 at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC.

To whet your appetite and learn more about the terracotta army, watch this excellent video: A visit to Xian and the Terracotta Warriors

Spring Blossoms in the Southeast Foster Wanderlust

March 21, 2009 by · Comments Off on Spring Blossoms in the Southeast Foster Wanderlust 

orange Blossoms

Orange Blossoms in the Spring

I wander outside my garage and greet the most glorious scent of spring. My own orange blossom serenade.

My nose twitches from the divine fragrance whiffing through the air; my eyes drawn toward the white petals juxtaposed against the glossy newborn leaves of the citrus tree. How heavenly.

I cut a branch of this aromatic wonder and bring it inside.  Now I’m dreaming oriental thoughts: cherry blossoms and teahouses, Memoirs of a Geisha, pagodas, China’s Great Wall and Forbidden City.  How I long to see these places.

In a few weeks, I’ll visit Atlanta where I have tickets to view a traveling exhibit of terracotta warriors from Xian.  Guess that will have to do.

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