Features, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Winter

Icy Artwork

Following on from my summer and autumn posts about Land Art, it seemed appropriate to continue with a post about Winter Land Art. This is the time to create those snow sculptures – to go beyond the usual snowmen, and create snow castles and palaces, snow animals, or even abstract forms. Or how about some ice installations. Those beautiful cold clear winter days when the sun glitters on the frost, and turns ice into diamonds, and red berries stand out like drops of blood, are particularly inspirational, and if you and the kids are wrapped up warm they provide the perfect opportunity to get out there and be creative. I for one find ice especially magical and am quite happy to find an excuse to play with it, explore the textures, and observe the play of sunlight in its depths. So my next few posts are following an icy theme.

For this first activity we decided to create some artwork outdoors with the ice. The weather has been perfect for it, and who knows when we’ll next have the opportunity. This activity requires some thinking ahead, as of course you have to leave your creation to freeze overnight, so choose a really cold night for it – or of course, you can cheat and use the freezer instead!

We collected some suitable material such as evergreen leaves, berries and twigs to encase in the ice, and used plastic ice-cream tub lids as moulds to freeze the water. Flexible plastic, or silicone is ideal, because you can bend it easily- this helps to get the ice out in one piece, though you have to be careful only to bend the edges of the lid and not the ice, or it will crack! Fill the lid with water (about 1cm deep), place your item to be encapsulated in the middle, and leave overnight.





For the hanging mobiles, I placed cookie cutters in the shallow trays with the water to create a shaped mould, and laid the end of a hanging string, in the water held by the cookie cutter, so that it would freeze in place. Small leaves, flowers, berries etc. were then placed in the centre of the cookie cutter, and the whole thing left to freeze. I found that this process was a bit  more hit and miss as the cookie cutters didn’t always create a clean shape when you took it out of the mould.




This activity was originally inspired by a project in the book Nature’s Playground: Activities, Crafts and Games to Encourage Children to get Outdoors which has suggestions for each season of the year, but perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent weather, there are various posts around the internet at the moment giving instructions for variations on this theme, some adding colour or glitter, etc. but for me, the attraction is in using natural materials. It also means that when they melt, they won’t desposit anything on the ground that shouldn’t be there.

Alternatively, instead of freezing your own ice, you can get out there and see what you can find.  Frozen puddles are a good source of shards of ice for building your own structures, and if you come across any icicles they make wonderful turrets for miniature ice palaces.





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  • Suze January 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Absolutely beautiful – love these Jude.
    I love envioronmental art – I did my thesis on it at college in 1990 (how old does that make me feel)!

  • Mrs Green @ littlegreenblog.com January 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    These are truly beautiful and so inspirational – thank you for sharing such works of art. My daughter loves picking up ice (and bringing it in to defrost LOL!) We’ve done frost painting with watercolours; have you ever done that? It looks really lovely once it’s done.

  • Monique Brown January 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Jude! Love your post! Very inspirational!! Now I have found what to do in these frost nights we are having in England! I agree with you, working with nature is more satisfying! Looking forward to seeing more of your posts!

  • Kath Parklover January 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Oh wow, these are just gorgeous.Such a great idea again!

  • aqeela January 5, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Ive seen this idea before but yours are stunning! Im looking forward to trying this out next winter when my son is abit older.
    Aqeela xx

  • jude January 5, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    @aqueela: Yes, there are lots of posts out there with variations on a theme, but I really wanted to have a go!

  • jude January 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    @ Mrs Green: No, I’ve never come across Frost Painting before, I’ll have to look that one up!

  • jude January 5, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Suze: my disseration was even earlier than that, so if you feel old…!

  • Art of RetroCollage January 6, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Too bad this is the kind of art with kind of a short shelf life.

  • Karen and Rich January 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

    This is a fantastic idea – have been playing lots with water last year, think ice might be me occupied for the next month or two 🙂

  • averilpam January 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    What beautiful artwork! I’ve done this inadvertantly when removing the ice from my bird bath and it has leaves stuck in it!! Sometimes the circular block of ice sits for days before melting.

  • Miriam January 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Ooh! How lovely!
    I want to try this as soon as possible!!

  • maggy, red ted art January 13, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Ooooh a very cute idea to use cookie cutters! We also need to boil our water next time to get a clearer ornament!

    Thank you for linking up!


  • SnoopyGirl January 13, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    What a lovely idea. I really need to do this with the kids. I have admired similar pieces twice now and must just do it before spring arrives and I can’t. Wink!

  • Janelle January 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    That’s some spectacular nature artwork! We’ll have to give it a try. Goodness knows it is cold enough here, even during the daytime!

  • maryanne January 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I love the beauty of nature inside of ice!

  • Jenny January 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Well, that is just beautiful!

  • jude January 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Thank you everyone for your lovely comments – this post has broken my previous record for the number of comments (excluding my replies of course!)

  • cathy@nurturestore January 18, 2011 at 11:55 am

    I think these are really beautiful Jude. Thanks so much for sharing the idea with our Play Academy.

  • Regina @ Chalkinmypocket January 20, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Oh my gosh, these are so beautiful. What gorgeous pictures — the light shining through that first pictures is just gorgeous.I’m adding this to my “must do” list for sure!

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  • marcia at Child in Harmony January 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    BEAUTIFUL! I know what we are doing today.

    It’s FREEZING here in Massachusetts and the perfect temperature for ice art. Thanks for sharing.

    happy day!

  • Sasha January 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    So beutiful I have been wanting ti try something new with my kids and had kept coming up blank or finding ideas that were just to complex for the energy level I have right now. Looks like I found the activity to try with them. : )

  • Rosie March 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Wow, these are beautiful! What a shame they have to melt. I might have a go next winter 🙂

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