Ice seems like an ironic material to work with—both hard and fragile at the same time. Can you talk about the difficulties of the medium and why you love it?
The difficulties are part of its attraction. While still in solid form, its brittleness varies with temperature. For some of the cuts, we want it as warm and soft as possible to minimize the possibility of fracturing. For other cuts and textures, we want it as hard as possible so the finest of details can be accomplished. Its transparency is another tricky but magical feature—anything cut on one side can be seen from many different angles.
Ice is also so fleeting ... soon to be gone with time and heat. Does that ever make you sad? Where do you find your satisfaction?
The fleeting and cyclical nature of ice is my favorite aspect of the medium. We are only capturing water, temporarily forming it into a shape, then returning it exactly as it started. Additionally, the sculpture is in a constant state of change from the moment it leaves the freezer—it’s interesting and different to look at right up until the end.
Why do you think people are drawn to ice creations?
To start with, it is a familiar substance. While many people have not seen as clear nor as large of ice as we use, it is just water—it’s relatable. There is little mystery in the substance, just how it got into that shape. Of course, its clarity and sparkling appearance is eye-catching.
What does a typical project look like?
Not many are what you would call “typical,” as the vast majority are custom works designed to the client’s specific needs and desires. For example, hearts, doves, swans, etc., are common for wedding events, but even those typically have a custom twist.
What have been some of your most elaborate and/or difficult projects?
We start all sculptures with a 300-pound block of ice. Most designs will take half of that weight away. Some of the larger installations have been ice lounges that require most, if not all, of the décor to be made of ice—i.e., chairs, couches, bars, artwork, even walls. These often involve more than 10,000 pounds of ice and can take one to several days to install.
Is there a project you’d like to create but haven’t gotten the chance to do yet?
Not so much a specific project, but I would like to compete in the Ice Art World Championships held each year in Fairbanks, Alaska.
What has been the biggest debacle, and how did you fix it?
If a piece is broken while at our studio, we simply pull out another block of ice, and “someone is working late tonight.” Though it doesn’t happen often, we occasionally break a piece in transit to an event. With a clean break, which is usually the case, it can be frozen back together. With a complete crash, there really is no option but an embarrassing apology and a refund.
If you weren’t an ice sculptor, what do you think you might be doing?