Working out of Taos, N.M. and Beaver Creek, Colo., Tim Linhart has been sculpting ice for 15 years. Linhart, who plays the harmonica, recently turned to creating ice instruments. His tools are simple: a chisel, a shaver and a few knives. His instruments are hollow, formed with an eighth-inch of ice, and take months to carve. Yo-Yo Ma turned a cold shoulder to an invitation to perform. Perhaps he was intimidated. “One bump with your knee and the instrument is gone,” Linhart explains.
Born June 10, 1960 (age 40)
The Art “My technique is different than anyone else’s. Everyone does reductive sculpting: get a block of ice and carve into it¿take stuff away. My breakthrough was to mix snow and water in a bucket and apply the slush by hand. It’s an additive process, like clay sculpting. This gives my art a far greater potential. What I used to consider the limit of ice is so far behind me now that I have no clue where the limit is anymore.”
The Engineering “There’s a sweet spot where the strings are tight enough so the ice starts moving and vibrating to make sound but doesn’t explode. When you find that balance, you make music. If you go too far¿ice chips.”
The Magic “Until you’ve played or heard my ice instruments, your mind can’t get a hold of it. Ice is thought to be cold and brittle, not warm and soft. These instruments sound like wood instruments. I feel like Columbus discovering a new land. The human potential would be so grand if we would believe anything is possible. Instead, we only believe what we already know.”
The Frustration “I sculpt at ski resorts. And anytime human beings are near an ice sculpture they’re going to try to break it. I’ve noticed that people are more likely to vandalize a sculpture if it’s not finished or has started to melt out. I have always hoped that I could create a piece so magnificent that no one would want to harm it.”
God’s Bandstand “A mountain summit is the promised land for an ice sculptor. If you are looking to touch God, it helps if you’re a little closer.”