Godfather Death - ice sculpture

in OCDlast year

As fairy tales go the Brothers Grimm have collected some of the best. They are Grimm by name and Grim by nature. Many are very dark and something I have refrain from reading to my young son as bedtime stories for fear they would give him nightmares.

This sculpture, which I made for the 2008 Bremen, Germany ice sculpture exhibition was based on tale number 44, Godfather death.

Once upon a time

The story revolves around a physician who is given great success and riches when his father get Death to become his Godfather.
If the doctor was seeing a patient and death stood at the head of the bed he knew the person could be saved and so would give them some fancy herds. If Death appeared at the foot of the bed the doctor would know that they were a goner and move on. With this amazing parlor trick he became very rich and well known.
When the King got sick the famous doctor was called for. On seeing Death stand at the end of the bed he turned the king around and gave him the life saving medicine. Are you with me so far?
When the princess fell ill the king asked that she be saved with the promise that she would marry the doctor. He did another switcheroo and as she was waking up Death grabbed the doctor and dragged him to a cavern, pretty pissed that he had been tricked for a second time.

In the cave there were thousands of candles burning away each representing the lifetime of someone. The doctor sees that his own candle was nearing it's end begs Death to replace it with that of his son so that he can continue on living with the princess.
Death is not amused and says 'Nope' The doctor pleads that a new candle be lite instead and Death pretends to do it but then suddenly sneezes, or something like that, blowing out his candle.

This is an abridged version of the story due to copyright reasons.

As for the sculpture I wanted to represent that moment when death was just reaching for the new candle. Where he tricks the trickster.
My scene was very confined and I was just given a wall of snow and a couple of blocks of ice to play with.
A wall does not a cave make so, I had to overhang the top and make a sort of pillary thing to give it some atmosphere of the cavern. Making it rough and adding many candles helped with that element of the scene.


For the Death skeleton I found it quite challenging. I knew if I had made the whole thing like a big Airfix kit it would take ages and make the whole structure very unstable so I wanted to have the head to the pelvis as one piece and build from there.
Unfortunately I had two big 1 meter tall blocks with no way of lifting them. Ice is heavy stuff, with each one being about a half a tonne but I needed to get one on top of the other.
I thought to myself, how would the Egyptians do it and so I slowly levered one block inch by inch into the air with a pallet truck then sliding a new pallet underneath which I then hoisted up again.
It took a long time to get to the right height so that I could then slide the block from the pallets to its resting place on top of the other. Finally I had a stack which would form the head, ribs and pelvis.

Instead of carving away the negative spaces I added on snow that I thought would blend with the wall behind and give the appearance that all was cut through. Not sure exactly if it worked but I was much more confident than if I had the whole thing supported by his thin spinal column.

The leg bone's connected to the hip bone

I then made the arm and leg bones as separate elements and fused them in place. This allowed me to be a bit more expressive and make the whole thing seem more delicate.
I connected him as much as I could to the wall because he was very close to the audience. Poetic Justice aside I didn't want anyone killed if parts of him were touched and broke off on top of someone.

I only include this image with yours truly because it gives a sense of scale not because I think I should be getting the big votes with my prettiness. Still, if you're into that sort of thing I will gladly show you my bottom for your whalevote.

As far as I remember @stijgerart helped at the end and made the Doctor character on the other side of the archway. It worked well but the lighting needed to be adjusted after these images were taken.
Building sculptures bit by bit like this is one of the great benefits of working with ice and snow. In many ways when I'm working I feel more like a carpenter and set dresser than sculptor.


Thanks for reading. I use PeakD to document my work as an ephemeral Sculptor of sand, snow and ice, amongst other things. This will hopefully give it a new life on the Hive Blockchain. Below you will find some of my recent posts.

Manga Nativity - sand sculpture

Geisha - sand sculpture

Olympic rings - sand sculpture

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What you saying you are very pretty, haha if I was a whale I'd be asking for that picture. Another awesome sculpture, you certainly are good at problem solving, very impressed with how you brought it all together. Hope you are well with all this lock down stuff going on xx

Outstanding! This literally takes my breath away. The patience you must have to complete this masterpiece.

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I'm gload you included the one with you in it for scale, I was doing it in my head trying to work out how big it was and thinking of the mission in getting those blocks of ice in a pile and damn he big XD

I think the cave thing worked out pretty well and so did whatever you did to not have everything supported by a skeletal spine :)

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