Melanie Mangione’s day job is working as an architect and interior designer. But, on the side, she and her husband Chris Berryhill created Mid-Mod Studio to fulfill their creative pursuits. These range from detailed, laser-cut maps to jewelry, art, and even ice sculptures. (Yes, ice sculptures!)
With their own workshop and years of experience with AutoCAD, they can create anything they dream up.
Sculpting Ice With AutoCAD
Melanie and Chris’ introduction to ice sculptures came through neighbors who did it both for fun and competitively. They first started sculpting ice in their local home of Anchorage, Alaska with small chunks of ice.
Over the course of a couple of years, they acquired the tools and built up the skill set. They felt ready to tackle the large blocks at the Crystal Gallery of Ice in Anchorage and finally the World Ice Art Championship competition in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s their goal to compete again in 2019.
For any given competition design, Melanie and Chris will peruse images and decide on the shape, whether it’s a bird or a chess piece. From there, they pull the images into AutoCAD and use the size of the ice block (3’X4’X8’ block weighing 10,000 pounds) to create a polyline square and grid.
Depending on the projected temperature outside, they will print out the grid created in AutoCAD, using either trace paper sprayed with water (if temps are below freezing) or a plastic-laminated letter-sized sheet of
paper (if the temperature looks to be warmer). For their sculpture of a bird, they traced the grid’s shapes on the ice blocks with black markers from a laminated sheet of paper. And then the work of chipping away begins—first with a chainsaw and then moving to more delicate tools to create the fine lines.
“When we go to sculpt the ice, it’s amazing and so cool,” says Melanie. “You can do these deep gouges or slight, glancing blows; depending on the temperature outside, it’ll drift off as snowflakes, just like dust in the air. Or if you carve a little deeper it creates ice chips. It’s a great challenge and just a lot of fun.”
An Array of Art
But ice, of course, isn’t their only artistic outlet with AutoCAD. Melanie and Chris create notebooks, jewelry, and art, including a full series devoted to fishing lures and cocktail recipes.
For their map designs, Chris imports Google Map images into AutoCAD and intricately traces out the geography, from roads to rivers and coves. Once the design is complete, they can laser cut it with large pieces of MDF laminated with Maple and Cherry veneer or use the graphic for other small projects. So far, Chris has made maps of Yellowstone National Park, Hawaii, Latin America, the state of Montana, and many more.
“Once we have the map created in AutoCAD, we could blow that map up to be five feet wide, or I’ve got it as a sticker at two inches wide,” says Melanie. “Once we have that graphic and shapes, we can then alter it and resize it however we want. This is, of course, thanks to AutoCAD vector graphics.”
For the couple, their years of experience with AutoCAD make it the only choice to design their art.
“AutoCAD is really the only tool that we could use because of how we work,” says Melanie. “For us, it was a natural flow into it.”