Dazzling ice sculptures will melt your heart

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    ROCK TAVERN-Take a picture of your family sitting on a throne made of ice. Speed down a 20-foot ice slide. Spin in an egg made of — you guessed it — ice. That stuff you've been chipping off your windshield lately can, in the right hands, be transformed into magnificent, if ephemeral, works of art. Ice sculptor Earl Covington of Highland Mills will carve a wonderland for Orange County's first-ever winter ice festival on February 4, 5, and 6. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Rock Tavern is sponsoring the festival to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Orange County. Covington's clients are some of the toniest in the world: The Russian Tea Room, Tavern on the Green, The Plaza Hotel, The Waldorf Astoria, New York Magazine, and CBS 60 Minutes, among many others. Covington founded Ice Art Inc. in New York in 1990. He had worked as sous chef to the executive chef in a number of four-star hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons, Le Bel Age, and the Helmesley Palace. He then turned from fire to ice, using his artistic vision and ice sculpting talent to create award-winning ice sculptures. With his partner, Andrea Brown, Covington grew Ice Art into a premier ice sculpting business, with four ice carvers on staff. In 1997, Covington and teammate Alberto Reyes were awarded second place at the World Ice Art Championship competition in Alaska. The competition was invitation-only and earned Covington and Reyes the back-up team position to the 1998 Olympics in Japan. As a member of the National Ice Carvers Association, Covington competes yearly, winning awards at each event. In 1999, he devised a system to produce custom-designed ice castles for the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan, which are delivered daily. He carves most sculptures out of one block of crystal-clear ice made in the studio. Each block is 40 inches tall, 20 inches across, and 11 inches thick. A finished sculpture weighs between 180 and 240 pounds. Sculptures taller than 40 inches are made by cutting and stacking the blocks. Covington will demonstrate his art each day at the Winter Ice Festival, to be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, located at 9 Vance Lane, off Rt. 207 in Rock Tavern, two and a half miles west of Stewart Airport. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children, or $10 for a carload. Hours are Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 12 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. This event depends on the weather, which needs to be about 30 degrees. Call 291-1253 for updates. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity.