Men wielding chainsaws plunging them into big blocks of ice, sending a spray of frozen mist skyward – that’ll make The Chronicle stop and watch … for longer than a Stopped.Watched. item. Out in front of Bella Ciao on Liberty Street just east of Ashley, Andrew Hoeffner and Andrew Dickinson were enjoying a minor difference of opinion about how to proceed with the carving, which the restaurant had commissioned. But the chainsaw slice had been made and there was pretty much no turning back.
Hoeffner, who’s a sophomore at the University of Michigan, and in his second year of carving for the Michigan Ice Carving Team, said that they’d already adjusted the planned design somewhat: They’d started with the idea of making the letters of “Bella Ciao” raised relief, but switched to carving the outlines into the ice.
Holly Miller emerged from the restaurant and teased them: “Such a big block of ice, for a small amount of lettering?” The Chronicle asked Holly who she was to allow herself an opinion, anyway. She replied, “I’m an Ann Arbor-an? Arbor-ian!”
Hoeffner said there’d be more than just the letters. He was planning to replicate Bella Ciao’s window floral motif as part of the carving. But he’d be using something a little more precise than a chainsaw: a drill-like power tool with a spinning bit. Hoeffner had no previous experience carving ice before joining the team. His interest was piqued by the MICT table on the Diag, when that patch of campus is filled with student groups recruiting members.
The more than 20 different ice carvings distributed throughout the downtown area are sponsored by the Main Street Area Association. Carvers will be at work Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It’d be great if a Chronicle reader could report back on how the finished carving for Bella Ciao looks.