News / Asia

    Chinese Sculptors Bring Their Talent to US Holiday Ice Show

    No matter what the thermometer shows about the weather in your neighborhood - this next story will keep you cool.  For the Christmas holiday, a huge attraction at the Marriott Gaylord National hotel near Washington, DC is made entirely of ice.  Actually, more than 900,000 kilograms of ice!  

    Walk inside a massive white tent and the noise hits you first, followed by the brisk air.

    You're hearing the sounds of forklifts and chainsaws, slicing through ice.  

    The temperature is minus 12 degrees Celsius....the air turns a smoky color when someone exhales. But it must be this cold to preserve the 6,000 massive blocks of ice. Carvers are chipping the blocks into life-sized characters from a children's Christmas storybook.

    The carvers only speak Mandarin, like Xu Rui who is the art director of the exhibit.

    “We learn it since we were really young," said Xu Rui.

    For Xu Rui, that was age 9.  He, like all the others, lives in Harbin, China, known as the Ice Capital of the World because of its annual ice festival that draws 800,000 visitors. This is Xu Rui's 11th exhibit in the U.S. and, he says, the best - as he gestures to the ceiling of the tent.  The tallest sculpture - depicting New York City's Empire State Building - is nearly seven meters-tall.  

    Xu Rui looks at blueprints and yells out orders to move one of the ice blocks and to carve it into a circle.  The ice architects build the exhibit without understanding its theme - "Twas The Night Before Christmas," is an American classic, read aloud on the Christian holiday.   

    “Now the story is uh…sorry… I can’t recall," he said.

    Same with Zhang Haijun who is chiseling windows in the skyscrapers of a Christmas scene in Manhattan.

    "I’ve never been to New York, I carve from the pictures people show me. But when I’m finished with this project, I really want to go to New York to see it for real," said Zhang Haijun.

    Zhang Haijun wears oversized rubber gloves - he holds a chisel with a long handle - some of the ice equipment he brought from Harbin.

    “We can’t get these tools from the store. They are customized and I’ve been using them for years," he said.

    The low temperature inside the tent must stay steady because if it's too cold, the ice is too brittle.  Too warm and it won't chip properly.  

    The carvers spend 12 hours a day in this frigid workplace  - in a month, they are finished:

    The bare brown blocks have become eight lifesized reindeer suspended above the crowd, pulling Santa's sleigh.

    Plain slabs have transformed into an exquisite clear ice nativity, the religious centerpiece of Christmas.  Visitors stare and are tempted to touch the sculptures, to confirm they are made of ice.

    The yellow ice blocks that were carried in on forklifts are now a lifesized New York City taxi.  Visitors climb into the real leather seats for a perfect photo.

    The slanted plank is now a two-story ice sliding board.  Nearby is a floor-to-ceiling green ice Christmas tree with gold garland and vibrant yellow, pink, and purple colored ice presents stacked underneath.

    The display, simply called “ICE!” is a Christmas gift for Washington, D.C., wrapped in 900,000 kilograms of ice,  from 34 expert carvers from China.

    • New York skyscrapers made of ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • A man stands in front of a New York taxi made of ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • A sign made of colored ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • A man works on ice displays at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • Santa, his sleigh and reindeer made of ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • Brightly colored presents made of ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • A nativity scene made of ice at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)
    • A holiday themed ice Statue of Liberty at National Harbor in Maryland. (Carolyn Presutti/VOA)

    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora