How Much Are Ice Sculptures?


For a special event, few things are as eye-catching as ice sculptures set on the buffet or featured as the table centerpiece.

These sculptures have prices that vary according to size and complexity. Carvers will have designs you can pick from or for a fee sculptors will create a custom piece for your event.

Adding lights or colors adds to the dramatic effect, and to the cost.

The fancier and bigger sculpture you choose, the higher the price.

The Prices

  • Starting from a small vase for $45, prices increase to $300 for three-foot designs like swans and lovebirds suitable for table centerpieces.

    Elaborate giant designs will cost you $1,000 and can go up to $4,500 for skilled artists working on an elaborate piece.

    For budget buffet décor, you can buy a reusable DIY swan sculpture online for $16 (plus shipping) or larger one-time use swan for $60.

    Mileage might be charged for delivery and pick-up, depending on the distances involved.

The Care

  • Carving ice comes in 300-lb. blocks prepared without bubbles by agitating it while freezing slowly. It must be transported to the carving site, then to the display site. Each step requires careful handling of the brittle ice and delicate carvings.

    Delivery must be just before the event to prevent melting and will include presentation bases and drainage containers. The site must be ready to support the sculpture--a standard block weighs 300 pounds. There should be enough room in the display area for the ice to be protected from accidental impacts.

    Displayed at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and protected from wind and direct sunlight, a sculpture could last four to eight hours.

The Ice

  • Ice comes in three types. Canned ice has a white feather in the core. Man-made crystal clear blocks cost two to three times as much as other types. There is also natural ice made outdoors in cold temperatures.

    Clear ice is the best for carving. It is made in a controlled environment with constant agitation and slow freezing temperatures to prevent impurities. It costs $150, on average.

    Ice is also heavy; standard blocks weigh 300 pounds.

The Sculptors

  • Since 1989, Alaska has hosted the annual World Ice Art Championships. Ice carving competitions are held around the world with international competitors. Chicago is the base for the National Ice Carving Association.

    When booking a sculptor, the minimum advance notice is one to four weeks. For large, multi-block with a team of sculptors, allow 12 weeks.

    A deposit of $75 is often required to reserve the date. Often sculptors request payment in full before they begin carving.

    To find a talented ice sculptor, check with your caterer or online with the National Ice Carving Association.

Special Effects

  • Special effects such as fog or lasers can cost hundreds of dollars. Colored ice can add drama--and cost--to a sculpture. Logos or photos in acetate covers can be frozen into the design and do not melt.
    Colored lights shimmer though clear ice forms and add impact to a piece. The most common are red, green and blue.

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  • Photo Credit Putting the finishing touches on an ice sculpture/ Tyler Love:
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