It’s fitting that Julian Lee is carving blocks of ice this week in downtown Calgary surrounded, as he is, by icy conditions.
Lee is working outdoors in James Short Park to create ice sculptures to help celebrate Lunar New Year.
“This is a sea turtle,” Lee said, pointing to the piece he was working on Sunday afternoon. “The turtle, in Chinese, also means long life.”
The extreme cold brings some challenges for Lee as he works with the ice blocks.
“They’re actually tougher to cut, and you wear out your chainsaw or whatever you’re using,” he said.
But while the wintry weather may be tough on his tools, the veteran carver isn’t bothered by it at all.
“Minus 28, actually, is not cold,” Lee said. “The coldest day I ever carved was -42. My eyelashes were glued together, I can’t even see, so -28 — nice and warm!”
Calgary’s Chinatown District Business Improvement Area organized the ice sculpture showcase to help ring in the Year of the Pig, which begins on Tuesday, Feb 5.
Lee is creating 10 Asian-themed sculptures for the occasion.
Pointing to the base of a Chinese lantern, he explained the significance of the design.
“This is actually the shape of a Chinese symbol,” Lee said. “It means good luck.”
Lee will continue working through the cold on Monday and Tuesday, with members of the public welcome to stop by and watch him work.
No matter how chilly it might get, Lee has no intention of stopping.
“This is actually my kind of weather!” he said.
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