(In which some friends and I make a penguin ice sculpture.)
This past weekend was Midterm Break, which is notable for being the only 3-day weekend of the Carleton term. In winter, it is doubly notable for being the weekend when Midwinter Ball happens.
Midwinter Ball, if you haven’t heard about it somewhere else already, is the biggest formal dance of the school year. I was going to call it the biggest dance event of the year, but Ebony, the event where half the campus performs a choreographed dance show while the other half watches, is comparable in size.
At any rate, Midwinter Ball is a big deal, and in addition to bringing in food and hors d’oeuvres from the dining halls and a jazz band from the cities, Carleton also commissions ice sculptures to be carved outside Sayles and the Great Hall. An expert ice sculptor comes and gives everyone the basics on how to use the tools, and assists the groups with anything chainsaw-related.
This year, although I wasn’t planning on it, I ended up tagging along to the ice sculpting party and joining some of my friends who were in one of the carving groups.
The product of our labors was Eugene the Penguin. Photos of him were featured on Carleton’s facebook page, so you may have seen him already, but now you can get an in-depth, backstage look at Eugene’s transformation from a boring rectangular block of ice to the dashing celebrity penguin he is today.
Here is Eugene in the early stages. As you can see, he is not much altered from his original ice-block state. We started by sketching the outline of a penguin on the front of the block and chipping away at the unnecessary ice above his shoulders.
Meanwhile, other groups were making flames, a castle, a narwhal, a dragon, another penguin, a fish, a gnome, and some others I can't remember right now. My cousin Jonathan and some other members of CUT made a urinal out of ice. I asked him, "You know what's going to happen, right?" They didn't seem worried, though.
Eventually, we decided that things would probably move faster if we asked the expert sculptor to cut off some of the ice with his chainsaw, so that’s what we did. He happily obliged:
In fact, he made it quite a bit more penguin-shaped while he was at it. I'm pretty sure that without his help, Eugene would have turned out more like a silhouette of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man than a penguin.
After that, we kept chipping away for a while, giving the wings more definition and such-like. We used Oscar the stuffed penguin in the Libe as a reference when we needed to know about penguin anatomy.
As we worked, the sun set.
Then we decided the penguin needed a little bit more chainsaw work, and we called our expert over for another go. He took off the ice we asked him to, and then he took a sidelong glance at our penguin, which at that point still looked more like some sort of Archimedian solid than a penguin. He turned the chainsaw back on, shaped up the face some more and gave the penguin some feet. He stopped the chainsaw and looked at it again.
"I'm sorry," he said, "once I get going like this, I just can't stop myself." He turned the chainsaw back on and gave Eugene a flatter stomach and a handsome penguin face, complete with eyes and a beak. He cut the bow-tie into a bow-tie shape. He paused again, laughed, and kept sculpting.
In the end, what was left for us to do was smooth him up and give the bow-tie dimples. We did that.
So it turned out great, as you can see above. Our success was due mostly to the chainsaw wizard who was helping us out, but we still felt very proud of Eugene.
This is us:
Afterwards, we all drank hot chocolate.
(Actually, that wasn't the end. Then I went to Chelsea 11:17, which was GREAT. Then Midwinter Ball happened, which was also great. There, that's the end.)