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One of Tim Carmon's ice masterpieces — and eagle. Photo submitted

From ice to art: Watch the carver at the Chilly Chili Cook-off in Chester

Submitted by Katherine Sansome

Tim Carmon at work on a new ice sculpture. Photo submitted

Chainsaw gassed up, chisels at his side, popular ice carver Tim Carmon from Carson City, Nevada is ready to turn 1,000 pounds of ice into a piece of art at the Chilly Chili Cook-Off, Feb. 18 at Chester Park. “I have been sculpting ice for over 45-plus years and I always get excited when I see the potential in a crystal-clear block of ice,” says Carmon.

Carmon began a career in the food industry at age 19 taking him to Seattle, to working dinner cruises to Toronto and Lake Louise.  It was while working in Lake Louise that he began a year and a half apprenticeship in visual food art. “Never thought of myself as being an artist. It was through the training and learning certain skills that I discovered I had good eye for shape, proportion, balance and color. Those are just as important as knowing how to design and sculpt,” he explains.

Part of the training and ending up with a beautiful work of art is having the right “raw product” – the ice. The ice is prepared in special molds that can push the gas bubbles out of the water so the ice is completely clear.  Single blocks of ice are generally 350 pounds, 40” long, 20” wide and 11” thick – with three being welded together to create a single block to make the sculpture. Tools of the trade vary as well. Carmon is what he calls old school using a chainsaw and chisel for the fine details. Today he explains carvers use C&C three-dimensional machines that program the images and lasers.

Through his career, Carmon has participated in many ice carving competitions both nationally and internationally.  He attributes some of his wins to a great imagination. “Sometimes all it takes is a good idea.” It was at the 2000 Ice Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska, with a four-man team competing amongst the best of the best that his team placed 2ndand 3rd in the realistic category. “A physically challenging event, we worked for four days transforming 42,000 pounds of ice into a 22’ sculpture called the Fountain of Fortune.”

Carmon retired seven years ago as the pastry chef at the El Dorado in Reno, a position he held for the past 22 years. He is now retiring f rom ice carving. “I still get a thrill when I see that ‘hunk of blue’ and think what if?” See Tim at his “last hurrah” at the Chilly Chili Cook-Off, Feb. 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Chester Park. www.AlmanorChiliCookoff.com. The event, sponsored by The Almanor Foundation, is raising moneys for the Ice-Skating Rink in Chester.

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