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Students carve cold niche for themselves

February 06, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

Camelot is making an appearance in Hagerstown for the next two days. See it while it's cold.

A castle, towers, dragons, shields, knights, swords and other medieval and Renaissance items - all made of ice - are being carved up at the Washington County Career Studies Center on Oak Ridge Drive.

Culinary arts students and others at the center have taken time out from their other studies to chisel 90,000 pounds of ice into sculptures for the center's Ice Festival.

It's the second year culinary arts teacher Mike Toth's students made the ice sculptures.

"This is a way for us to say thank you to the community," he said.

Toth said the display also demonstrates the high quality of education and students at the center.

Toth said the ability to carve ice will help make his students more marketable when they graduate.

"Ice carving is very popular now in culinary buffets," he said.

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Many hotel chefs carve ice for displays, and learning the skill "will definitely give them (students) an edge," he said.

The culinary arts students normally prepare the school's lunches. But for a week and a half, two classes of students have worked on the sculptures.

Steve Netz, 16, said getting hands-on experience with chisels, sanders, ice tongs and chainsaws was a nice change of pace from the kitchen.

"It's a long process, it's a lot of work, but it's also a lot of fun," Netz said.

The students attached templates drawn on paper to some blocks of ice and then chiseled out the designs.

"At least I'm not inside," said Anthony Boyd II, 17. "It's nice out."

"This weather is really not helping our ice," Netz said.

Netz said the experience also has helped the students' self-confidence. "(Toth) is letting us work independently. It gives you that feeling of being able to do things yourself without having somebody looking over your shoulder all the time."

Masonry students at the center helped out with the castle construction. "This gives the students a chance to practice their skills with a new medium," Toth said.

"It's a whole different ball game," said Jay Hoffman, 17. "Here you've got to worry about the way the ice slides," he said.

The crew of students carefully leveled the layers of ice blocks. Instead of using mortar, the students sprayed water in between the ice blocks. The whole structure then freezes together as one unit.

Last year, Toth's classes sculpted 60,000 pounds of ice. Toth said he became interested in ice sculpting when he lived in Plymouth, Mich., which has a major annual ice festival.

"Hopefully it will catch on here," he said.

Friday night, business and community leaders will attend an Ice Ball and be treated to medieval dancing demonstrations, singing and other displays, including a demonstration by the Society of Creative Anachronism.

The lighted ice display will open to the public at 6 p.m. today. The sculptures will be on display all day Saturday, with ice sculpting demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The sculptures will remain in place until they melt away.

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