Playing With Ice

First Attempt: Embossing Ice

This is point between Boards 2 & 3. I have experimented with plastic bags and newspaper (for the previous idea I had about shops). Unfortunately, nothing sparked in this so I figured I should move on and see what else can germinate…

In my first poster I came up with the idea of embossing ice, it had no substantial reason behind it, I just thought it might be cool (no pun intended). When it came to doing the second poster and I had to actually emboss the ice, I realised it was a tricky thing to do. Ice is fragile and delicate.
This is what happened when I tried embossing ice. In retrospect, it was a bad idea…


What I Learnt

It was by no means a wasted experience. The thought that the ice was such a fine and weak material stayed with me. It melts, it cracks, it breaks, it has nothing going for it: nothing but it’s beauty. It has a unique transparency to it and a really sensual feel in your hand. It almost has a poetic sense of tragic irony: the beautifully precious material.
All the above lead me down the route of it being a ‘precious material’. I found myself with the idea of creating an ice ring, or an ice necklace. It seemed brilliant to me; the idea of wearing such a ‘precious material’ and being obliged to really savour every fleeting moment that you wear it. It is almost a live piece of jewellery.

Change in Direction

Speaking with Kate, I realised that an ice mould could be my process. This evades the obvious difficulty of embossing into ice that I found at the beginning.

I thought about how it might be best to present my final product and then Andy Goldsworthy was mentioned to me. I took a look at one of his projects, Snowballs. In this he has created a snowball and watched it melt, recording it through photographs over a series of time. It really does captivate my intention of fleeting beauty. I think the best way to present my object is through a series of time-lapsed photography, this should portray my message well.

Again, with the thought of Valentines Day in my mind I was thinking about more ways to present it in a romantic way. Perhaps what I drew below is the best way? Probably not though because in drawing it, it seemed apparent to me that this would be bloody difficult to make look real. The models would almost defiantly move in the time it took the ice to melt and I am not convinced it would really place the emphasis on the idea of it ‘fleeting’ too well.

sketch1360754577555 sketch1360754109228

Second, Third & Fourth Attempts, Trial and Error

So I bought myself an ice tray, it was the day before Valentines Day so I thought it only fitting that I selected love hearts.
Firstly what I did was research into ice a little. I figured it would be best to try and try and make the ice as beautiful as I could. Here is a link to a page about creating clear ice.
What I did next was fill half of the tray up with tap water and half of the tray with boiled then filtered water. I did both to see whether or not there was any difference.
I placed a piece of string in one from each half as my first attempt at making jewellery.


The next day I went back to examine the results..

It turns out that boiling and filtering water really does make a difference! I think I got a little too excited about the difference actually! But it was impressive!


Above is what came out of the freezer.


Me With My New Bling!

The thing I need to consider, if I decide to make a necklace, is that the cubes are top heavy. They don’t sit flat against your chest, they tip over and this looks silly. I think threading the string closer to the bottom of the cube would be a good idea.

I timed the cubes to melt in a room that was 22 degrees. It was like watching.. well it was like watching ice melt! I got bored and just left a stop watch next to it, returning every half hour or so. It took 1 hour, 14 minutes so this means, when I take them out of the freezer, I have just over an hour to take the series of photographs. I think I will take as many as I can in that time and then subtract them until I have 4-8 images that show progressive reduction.

It occurred to me that it will take less time with a hole in the middle and against the heat of a hand, so as a quick test I put this back in the freezer. It is big enough for me to put my finger in so should work as a ring. I can wear and time it to get a better idea of how long I will be able to photograph it.

Below, you can see I tried two different rings. One with a metal ring frozen into the cube and another with a hole through the middle, made by a pen lid.
The latter didn’t work as well as I’d hoped, the hole was too small.I froze a glove with some water in it, with the intention of putting that in the water and freezing it. This didn’t work because it wouldn’t stand up.

 20130218_105720 20130218_105705  

The idea of the metal ring being frozen into it was a failure for two reasons. Firstly the ring was only about 2/3 of a ring, the other 1/3 was inside the cube. I couldn’t get it on my finger. Secondly, the cube literally lasted 45 seconds before it fell off. This idea is not going to work, I think I need to focus my attention to the idea of creating a hole through the cube.

20130218_105814 20130218_110550

Something I need to draw attention away from in the presentation of the time lapse is the urgency going into the production of the ring. I need it to seem profoundly elegant as a message and as a piece of jewellery.
Below are some possible ways to do it. I think the best way would be a series of beautiful shots, you do look at these and the first thing you think isn’t any sense of urgency. In particular, the hanging ring might be a good way to go as well; the melting ice, dripping down might look really nice.
I am going to probably need at least one or two other people to help this go quickly and smoothly.


If I had a more basic mould I could probably find an easier way to put a whole through it but, as it stood, I didn’t. After hours and hours of fiddling around with the ice, waiting for it to refreeze so I could just fail again, I realised something pretty obvious: Rather than trying to freeze the ice around a hole, why not just create a hole through the solid block of ice?
My process to create a hole through the middle of the ice cube:

  1. Pour the boiled and filtered water into the silicon tray.
  2. Wait 2 hours for it to freeze.
  3. Place a Wine Stopper over an open flame (I used the hob).
  4. Remove ice cube from the tray.
  5. Place the hot Wine Stopper through the centre of the cube, melting a hole through the middle of it. Work the Stopper in a spherical motion until the cube had a hole big enough for a finger.
  6. Quickly place the cube back in the tray and back in the freezer.
  7. Wait a while for the cube to freeze again with the hole in the middle.


The logic seems relatively simple after spending so long trying to figure it out! However, it was still really rushed and tricky to orchestrate.
I have deduced that I have around half an hour to photograph the changes. Next stage is to figure out how I will photograph it: team, setting, outcome etc…

  • I think it will have to be photographed at home simply because the ice cubes will not last a two hour trip to uni, even in cooler bags.
  • I am also thinking I will have to let the photo booth idea slide, mainly because of restraints of what I have to produce the photograph at home.
  • My team is: me and possibly my girlfriend’s hand.
  • I will have an arsenal of frozen rings to ensure I capture the moment, even if it takes 8 rings to do this, hopefully that won’t be apparent in the final time lapse.
  • To ensure the photographs come out in the same light, position etc. I think I may use a hair dryer to melt the ring  in less time than an hour. This might melt the ring differently but it is worth a try to see whether or not it works.
  • I will try two different photographic styles (see below):


commercial_hand_photography_bodylondon_commercial_beauty_nail_photography_jayesh_pankhania_JP2_0397 img_1271bw

Very photographic and traditional. It would be more of a showcase of the ring, as opposed to a showcase of the message.

  • Less achievable at home.
  • Not romantic, hardly expresses the message of fleeting beauty.
  • Difficult to photograph over a long length of time without the images differing slightly (slightly is too much in this sort of time lapse, they would look very weird if they were all slightly different).



The idea here is that the ring is photographed on the hand but in a setting of breakfast or dinner. The scenario maybe unclear but the idea that the ring is disappearing before your eyes should intrigue you and make you wonder “why?”
I could have the hands slowly drift apart as the ice melts more and more, that may help the message, but is that making to literal and taking away the chance for your own interpretation? 

  • Far more simple to recreate at home.
  • Welcomes you into a home, much more intimate, much more romantic.
  • Seems to pair the idea of “fleeting beauty” with relationships.
  • Can use the objects as markers to ensure the hand stays in the same place over the length of the photographs.

How I RealICEd The Vision

I wanted to take the photos in a similar style to ‘Style B‘ shown above, but I am in no way a style-orientated person so I got my mum to lay the table. Below is what she did for me:


I had to make a few changes; I removed the bowl as this was where the hand would be sat. I also added a glass of orange juice, toast and a newspaper so that it would feel busier, and hopefully more welcoming. I need it not too feel like a showroom and, if possible, not even like a photoshoot.

The next part was what I was putting off for as long as I could. I think this was down to two things. Partly because I knew I needed to make sure all the camera settings and the scene were perfect before I started shooting; and partly because I was a little scared for the ice to start melting and for me to find out whether or not all this preparation has been worthwhile!

Regardless, there was no procrastinating left to do so I got the ice ring out of the freezer, put it on my girlfriend and told her to stay still for the next 45 minutes.
Below is a shot of what the shoot looked like and how it was executed.20130223_192439


Below that is a screenshot of the memory card’s folder. I got a lot of pictures but had to choose 6 or 8 significant points of change from these 114 photos. The amount of photos I presented depended on whether I thought there were enough, of these significant points of change, worth showing. I decided on the 6 below:

What I really love is that the death of the ring is welcomed because it is so intriguing, so it isn’t a sad thing at all. It is quite the opposite, a welcomed death, perhaps like a wake: looking back on it’s (short) life?

Final Composition

photobooth ladies

I wasn’t too sure of the best way to present these as a series, originally the idea was to do them as a small ring of photographs to represent the kind of first-date keepsakes of romance you may get from a photo booth. I developed the thought that this wasn’t that kind of romance I wanted my ring to represent; I want the love and memories, you think about when you see this, to be real and mature. It has almost become a retrospective look back on life. But I soon realised that this is actually what people look back on, to remember a happier time when there was youth and love had just begun.

Whichever way I chose to present the series of photograph, it needs to be warm yet serious. Here are a few of the ways I thought may work:

  1. The first image is a little too modern and dynamic for the feel I require, however it does show the ring closely and it is apparent what you need to be looking at.
  2. This one took the idea of a photo booth having cells and made more of the image visible, this uses the scene to create a warmer feel. The cells have a rough border (not perfectly square) to try and get away from the idea that it is a professional presentation of a photoshoot.
  3. I was unclear on the idea of it being black and white. I think it looked better as a presentation and as an image, it supported the idea of ‘looking back at the past’ well however it somewhat impaired the visibility of the ring and it’s progression.
  4. I took the third image and made the cells more rigid, I wanted to see whether or not the idea of the rough border was worthwhile. I think it actually looks nicer this way.
  5. I thought I’d try and take it away from the traditional, expected presentation form by adding a chicane in the series. This adds a more welcoming flow.
  6. Removing some space for the title made the order difficult to pick up quickly, creating an unpleasant vibe.
  7. I thought creating a flow like this may represent the progression as a timeline. It goes in the wrong direction though.
  8. I took (7) and thought about time and life. 5 had a peak, representative of life and so I bought that back in. It is a subtle touch that is nice to look at, even if you don’t get the idea of rising and falling. I made it colour because of what I mentioned in (2) about the black and white making the ring less visible.
  9. I added a subtle title, it shouldn’t take away the attention from the ring.

None of these did it for me so I googled “Photobooth” and this gave me a few ideas as to how series of photographs can get presented. Some of my better developments are below, but click on the next ‘Design Museum‘ post for the final presentation of the series of photographs for ‘Fleeting Beauty‘.


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