The prototype for the ninth best ice sculpture in the world is now sitting in a Summerville freezer, slowly evaporating.
"The dove is ready to disappear," says local ice carver Brian Connors, who created the intricate angel with Greenville's Edwin Hutchinson.
But even after the 1,400- pound practice sculpture is gone, Connors and Hutchinson will retain the distinction of earning a Top 10 spot in the World Ice Art Championships, held earlier this month in Fairbanks, Alaska.
"Doing the wings at 30 below was just crazy," says Connors, who owns Ice Age Ice Sculptures. Before custom work occupied all of his time, the Johnson & Wales graduate taught ice carving at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.
Since Connors carves for a living, he rarely has an opportunity to compete. But he was able to clear his calendar for the championships, at which he carved for 45 hours over three days.
When Hutchinson and Connors first started scheming their contest entry, they zeroed in on a sailfish as a subject; they'd already created a sailfish for last year's Taste of Charleston. Their plans changed after Hutchinson spotted a statue in Connors' workshop.
"I'd picked it up at a flea market," Connors recalls. "I really loved it."
The pair developed an angel holding a dove. "She's completely suspended in mid-air, so the whole back had to be carved out," Connors adds. "It was more engineering than anything else."
In tribute to Connors' mother, who died in January, the sculpture was titled "Connie's Spirit."
Three years ago, Connors moved back in with his parents to take care of them. Naming the sculpture after his mother was Hutchinson's idea.
"I got a little misty, but I appreciated it," he says.
The championship sculpture is still on display in the Fairbanks park where it was carved; the event hosts a webcam at icealaska.com for ice sculpture aficionados who want to view the carving without getting cold.