Fire & Ice event weathers cold in downtown Marietta

Photo by Michael Kelly With darkness falling on Front Street, Tyson Whistler works toward the finish of an ice sculpture in front of the Twisted Sisters Boutique on First Fridays in downtown Marietta.

MARIETTA — Ice was plentiful but fire was hard to find during the Marietta Main Street First Fridays event downtown, with the January theme being Fire & Ice.

The streets weren’t crowded, but dozens of people swathed in heavy coats, gloves and hats shuffled from one shop to another on Friday, admiring the ice sculpture artistry of Tyson Whistler.

Whistler, his words clouded by frost as he worked outside the Twisted Sisters Boutique on Front Street while daylight began to fade, said his project, involving the creation of eight sculptures each about the size of a large suitcase, started at Thanksgiving when he began creating the large blocks of ice using the freezer room at the Lafayette Hotel.

Creating each carving takes several hours, and he saved one as a sort of performance art for Friday night after he and Twisted Sisters co-owner Debbie Cline delivered the other seven to their locations around downtown.

“I think this one will be an angel fish, with some conches and pearls,” he said, firing up a drill.

Photo by Michael Kelly Jena Blair heats glass to form a bead for jewelry in the Twisted Sisters Boutique on Front Street during First Fridays in downtown Marietta. The January theme was Fire & Ice.

Inside Twisted Sisters, Debbie Evans, 60, and her husband Rick looked at the merchandise and strolled around the shop, getting warm. It was the Parkersburg couple’s first First Fridays experience.

“We were just tired of being inside, and this sounded like something cool to do,” she said. “These ice sculptures are beautiful.” The two headed out the door toward their next stop, Top Drawer, “before we get too warm,” she said.

At 6 p.m., the temperature was 13 degrees.

The sculpture locations were Twisted Sisters, Top Drawer Furniture and Design, The Cook’s Shop, National Fenton Glass Society, Baker & Baker Jewelers, Peoples Bank Theatre, The Gallery and Riverside Artists Gallery.

At the National Fenton Glass Society office, a large translucent bird perched outside the front display window. Millie Coty, who does education for the society, said the design was based on an original work by Bill Fenton, called “The Happiness Bird.”

Photo by Michael Kelly An ice sculpture by Tyson Whistler in front of the National Fenton Glass Society office on Front Street in downtown Marietta. Sculptor Tyson Whistler created the bird as a tribute to the “Happiness Bird” mold done by Bill Fenton.

Inside the office, four society members sat in the back keeping warm and discussing glass. Coty said no one from the public had entered the office but she had seen many stop to look at the sculpture.

Outside The Cook’s Shop stood a contradiction, a stove made of ice. Kim Horn took off her gloves momentarily to snap a photo with her phone. Horn, with Shania Hardie and Lowell Horn, had come in from Beverly to take in the event.

“Our first stop was Jeremiah’s, and we’ll look at the sculptures, do some shopping, then probably get something to eat,” she said.

Across the street, inside Twisted Sisters, Jena Blair was preparing to start the fire element of Fire & Ice.

Igniting a propane torch at her work table, she began melting a glass wand, making beads for jewelry. Blair said she was once in charge of bead design at the Fenton Glass Works.

Photo by Michael Kelly Jena Blair fires a glass bead as part of the activities during Marietta Main Street’s First Fridays downtown.

“I’ve know Becky and Debbie (Cline, of Twisted Sisters) for a long time, and I’ve done First Fridays for ages,” she said. “I love being a part of this.”

It was the second Fire & Ice themed First Fridays event. The one in 2016 included a fire performance art group, Burning Dawn, who were scheduled to appear again this year but had to cancel at the last moment.

The sculptures will remain on display at the businesses “until they melt,” Debbie Cline at Twisted Sisters said. “They’re probably good through Sunday, but I imagine Monday we’ll start to lose them.”

Photo by Michael Kelly A stove carved of ice offers at least the idea of warmth outside The Cook’s Shop on Front Street on First Fridays in downtown Marietta. January’s theme was Fire & Ice, and dozens of people braved frigid temperatures to walk the downtown streets, view the ice sculptures, shop and eat Friday night.