Friday, January 9, 2009

Fire and Ice

Since working in Minnesota, I've been absolutely fascinated by how they make the best of the extreme cold weather. One of the most entrancing, beautiful sights in the dark of winter nights is the glow of ice candles. The Embarrass cemetery is a sight of awe when each grave site has an ice candle burning on it one night in December, light as far as the eye can see.

Since I avoid thinking of the long, cold, miserable winters as much as possible the rest of the year, I was never prepared when it came time to make some ice candles of my own to enjoy. While the equipment needed is simple and inexpensive, it takes some time to eat gallons of ice cream so you need to remember this in summer and save those ice cream pails. With a couple of ice cream pails, a couple of soup cans, some water, and of course, freezing cold temperatures, you can make your own beautiful ice candle. This year I had the ice cream pails ready, but the weather which has been very cold decided to warm up just as I got the pails filled and half-frozen, so the making was slightly delayed. But this did allow me to adjust the soup can to the center of the slush so it was even all around. It did freeze again, and the two candles here were the result.

Candles in Process:

Now they are ready to take out of the buckets. Just bring them inside to the kitchen sink,turn them upside down, pour a little hot water on the bottom of the bucket, and they will fall right out. Then pour a little more hot water on the top, wiggle the soup can carefully so you don't cut yourself, and it should also just slide right out.

Take them outside and place them where you want them. Put a tea light inside each candle, wait for dusk, and use a gas grill light stick to light them. (Matches work, but may burn the fingers before you get the tea light lit.)

Try as I might with my point and shoot camera, I could not capture the marvelous light the same way as the human eye. I'll have to read up and try using our new DSLR to see if I can get any better result, but you can get the idea from these pictures.

This last picture was quite interesting when I loaded it. There are dog footprints where Gypsy and Babe milled around as I was placing the ice candles and the effect is kind of surprising. If you look closely, you can see the dog foot prints, but the effect you see first is that of a face. Can you see it?