Sculptors from Cobb, Cherokee ice their competitors in Alaska
by Rachel Gray
March 13, 2014 04:00 AM | 1715 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joel McRae of Smyrna uses a grinder during a three-day ice sculpting competition in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Atlanta Ice Marvels took home first place in both the single- and multi-block competitions.<br>Special to the MDJ/IceAlaska.com
Joel McRae of Smyrna uses a grinder during a three-day ice sculpting competition in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Atlanta Ice Marvels took home first place in both the single- and multi-block competitions.
Special to the MDJ/IceAlaska.com
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MARIETTA — An ice sculpting group, composed of mostly Cobb and Cherokee men, brought home two first-place ribbons last month from a world championship in Fairbanks, Alaska.

More than 100 artists from nine countries competed at the World Ice Art Championships, which includes amateur and youth competitions.

Joel McRae, 55, of Smyrna has participated in the event for years. He said artists from Russia, China, Mexico, Germany, Thailand and the United States demonstrate techniques and share tools as giant pieces are completed by each team.

“It is not a cutthroat competition. It is camaraderie,” McRae said.

McRae has ice sculpted for 20 years, after being exposed to the art during culinary school. McRae started competing at local food shows before traveling out of state for a large competition in 2000.

To shape the ice, sculptors use power tools, such as chainsaws and angle grinders, as well as handheld chisels, which can be very small to apply texture to a piece.

“You learn from your mistakes and you learn from other people,” McRae said.

Ice-cold competition

McRae competes as part of the Atlanta Ice Marvels group that formed in 2010. Jim Duggan of Woodstock created the team, and is the “mastermind” behind their projects, McRae said.

For their latest competition, Duggan pulled together the team, including travel details, which allowed them to “secure the win,” McRae said.

Months before the carvers start competing, 1,000 blocks of ice are cut from pond ice and delivered to the site in Fairbanks.

McRae was part of the two-man team in the “realistic” single block category, transforming a chunk of ice 8 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.

For three days, totaling 60 hours, he worked alongside Victor Dagatan, from Marietta, who “is the conceptual creator,” McRae said.

Dagatan, who had just returned from an ice-sculpting competition as part of the Sochi Winter Olympics, changed the team’s design a week before the world event.

“His growth and his abilities, I put him up there with (Leonardo) da Vinci,” McRae said.

This year, the team created “Love in Motion,” a piece depicting acrobats in the air holding rings.

“The piece really had motion,” McRae said.

The Atlanta Ice Marvels group also included a four-man team, composed of Dagatan, Duggan and two helpers from out of state, who tackled the multi-block competition.

From 10 smaller pieces, the men created “Maidens of a Birch Tree.”

Ice-cold competition

McRae competes as part of the Atlanta Ice Marvels group that formed in 2010. Jim Duggan of Woodstock created the team, and is the “mastermind” behind their projects, McRae said.

For their latest competition, Duggan pulled together the team, including travel details, which allowed them to “secure the win,” McRae said.

Months before the carvers start competing, 1,000 blocks of ice are cut from pond ice and delivered to the site in Fairbanks.

McRae was part of the two-man team in the “realistic” single block category, transforming a chunk of ice 8 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.

For three days, totaling 60 hours, he worked alongside Victor Dagatan, from Marietta, who “is the conceptual creator,” McRae said.

Dagatan, who had just returned from an ice-sculpting competition as part of the Sochi Winter Olympics, changed the team’s design a week before the world event.

“His growth and his abilities, I put him up there with (Leonardo) da Vinci,” McRae said.

This year, the team created “Love in Motion,” a piece depicting acrobats in the air holding rings.

“The piece really had motion,” McRae said.

The Atlanta Ice Marvels group also included a four-man team, composed of Dagatan, Duggan and two helpers from out of state, who tackled the multi-block competition.

From 10 smaller pieces, the men created “Maidens of a Birch Tree.”

Ice-cold competition

McRae competes as part of the Atlanta Ice Marvels group that formed in 2010. Jim Duggan of Woodstock created the team, and is the “mastermind” behind their projects, McRae said.

For their latest competition, Duggan pulled together the team, including travel details, which allowed them to “secure the win,” McRae said.

Months before the carvers start competing, 1,000 blocks of ice are cut from pond ice and delivered to the site in Fairbanks.

McRae was part of the two-man team in the “realistic” single block category, transforming a chunk of ice 8 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.

For three days, totaling 60 hours, he worked alongside Victor Dagatan, from Marietta, who “is the conceptual creator,” McRae said.

Dagatan, who had just returned from an ice-sculpting competition as part of the Sochi Winter Olympics, changed the team’s design a week before the world event.

“His growth and his abilities, I put him up there with (Leonardo) da Vinci,” McRae said.

This year, the team created “Love in Motion,” a piece depicting acrobats in the air holding rings.

“The piece really had motion,” McRae said.

The Atlanta Ice Marvels group also included a four-man team, composed of Dagatan, Duggan and two helpers from out of state, who tackled the multi-block competition.

From 10 smaller pieces, the men created “Maidens of a Birch Tree.”

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