Beaver Creek’s wizard of ice
vail daily news
BEAVER CREEK ” Tim Linhart gets a lot of weird looks when he tells people what he does for a living ” and what he’s doing right now in Beaver Creek.
Linhart considers himself a sort of wizard of ice. He first came to the Vail Valley from Taos, N.M., in 1989 and has been making ice sculptures in Beaver Creek Village every winter since.
But it’s not Linhart’s ice sculptures that raise eyebrows. When he starts to explain what he calls “ice music” is when people start to look at him like he’s nuts, Linhart said.
After years of making ice sculptures in Beaver Creek, it was curiosity and a friendship with a guitar maker that led him to explore the possibility making a musical instrument mostly out of ice.
It turns out, it works.
“I imagine way out ahead and then work with the limitations,” said Linhart.
Linhart’s first attempt at sculpting a musical instrument out of ice was in 1998 in Beaver Creek. He built the body of what he called an Octabass out of ice and started to tighten the strings on it when the whole thing shattered. He’s been refining the process ever since.
“It’s almost impossible to build and easy to fail,” Linhart said.
Since shattering his first ice bass, Linhart has successfully sculpted eight violins, seven guitars, 15 cellos, and a number of flutes, violas and a version of a pipe organ he calls a Rolandophone.
Linhart has a piece of plastic with the outlines of the instrument bodies on it that he uses to start his process. He uses a mixture of snow and water to build the body of the instruments on top of the outlines. The top and bottom pieces of the body are then placed on a wooden mold that holds them in place while Linhart carefully builds the ice sidewall that holds the instrument together.
He attaches the standard neck of a violin or a guitar to the ice body and then adds the strings.
“Ice is stiff but produces a clean beautiful note,” he said. “I had no idea there would be as huge a quality of sound.”
Linhart’s latest project is near the Zoom Room terrain park at the top of Beaver Creek. Before he started making the ice instruments, with the help of a snow cat he constructed an ice theater that has seating for about 70 to 80 people.
Beaver Creek is considering Linhart’s work a pilot project and hasn’t decided whether to hold events in the igloo. The igloo is closed to the public while Linhart is still working on his instruments in the ice theater, but Linhart hopes to have a concert inside it sometime in March.
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