Building Ice-Henge for the Luminary Loppet

Sanding 'Ice-Henge"
Erik Wardenaar sands a face of one of the pieces of "Ice-Henge" on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minn. Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. "Ice-Henge" is one of several installations created by the luminarian team for the Luminary Loppet being held Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011.
MPR Photo/Jeffrey Thompson

Thursday morning on Lake of the Isles, near the channel that connects it to Cedar Lake, a small crew took apart wooden frames which cover eight giant blocks of ice.

Each of the ice blocks is eight feet tall, three feet wide and a foot thick. They are arranged in a small circle.

Artist Erik Wardenaar calls the piece "Ice-Henge." He got help putting it together from engineer Hal Galvin. Galvin says the wooden forms were used to shape the ice and protect it from vandals and the elements.

"So, what's going to happen is we're going to remove these forms," says Galvin. "And hopefully we'll be left with something really beautiful and then in the next two days the wind and the sun will rough out the sharp edges and sort of do the finishing work for us."

Galvin says his biggest concern is that when the wooden forms are removed the ice will crack and make the structure unsafe to be around. But when the wood is removed, he is relieved to find solid blocks of ice.

"I think this is a spectacular result," he says. "We had no idea what it was going to look like, but it looks nice. It has kind of a green tint. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when it's lit up by a candle."

Galvin says this is an interesting confluence of art, engineering and meteorology.

"I'm not an artist," Galvin says. "I'm an engineer and this is serious engineering. Can we really make a two-ton slab of ice in a geometrical pattern and have it stable and then freeze it into the ice and make it safe?"

He adds, "skiers can actually ski through here and it's our hope that inside here will be a very unique experience, a serene, peaceful, almost spiritual experience."

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