I used to write a lot about small business success stories and craftsmen and their artisan like qualities. Then I stopped. For no apparent reason. I did write a few craftsmanship articles for one of my business websites, but not for my personal blog. I love craftsmanship and all things associated with the fine things produced by hand. So as part of my 30 day writing challenge I decided to bring that series back and continue writing about craftsmen and entrepreneurs who inspire me.
Nothing celebrates winter better than a well-crafted ice sculpture, and nobody knows this better than Steve Brice.
Steve and his wife, Heather, hail from the frosty climes of Fairbanks, Alaska. Steve began his artistic career as a stone and bronze sculptor. He began working on ice in 1990, and has since gone on to win the Fairbanks World Ice Art Championship 15 times.
Beauty on Ice
Ice sculpting is possibly the most difficult form of sculpting there is; not just because of the carving aspect, but because the raw material is so fluid (no pun intended) and difficult to manage. As the sculptor works, they have to keep track of the ice’s current state, and whether or not the ambient temperature—and even the temperature from their tools—is melting the ice faster than it should.
Because of this issue, ice sculptors have to work fast and efficiently, often having to finish a carving within minutes if they’re working in warmer environments. With the luxury of the right environment, however, sculptors can just as easily take hours to produce magnificently complex pieces.
Even the way the ice is formed greatly affects its use within a sculpture. Air bubbles within the ice results in smoky ice, which can be used to imitate snow. Dyes or tinted sand can be used to add color to a piece, although lights can be used too.
A True Winner
Since starting his career, Steve has been awarded multiple times and is recognized all over the world as one of the top ice sculptors. In addition to his victories in Fairbanks, Steve has won first place in international competitions in Finland, Belguim, Canada, and Japan. He has represented the United States as an Olympian Ice Sculptor, winning 3 consecutive times. Heather, Steve’s wife, is no slouch either. She’s a six-time World Champion in her own right, and often partners with Steve during commissions or competitions.
Competition isn’t the only thing on the Brices’ minds, though. Together, they founded the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs resort in 2004. It is open year round, as is currently the only such Ice Museum in the world. It has gotten international media coverage and receives visitors from all over the world. Steve is the museum’s Creator, Designer, and Lead Artist.
Steve is something of an inventor as well, and over the course of his ice sculpting career has created his own brand of tools of the trade. These tools have proven popular with the ice sculpting community, and are being used all over the world.
Ever the generous souls, Steve and Heather hold regular ice sculpting classes to sculptors of all levels, hoping to pass on their knowledge in order to benefit the ice sculptor’s community as a whole.
When they’re not winning competitions or teaching classes, they Steve and Heather operate Brice and Brice Ice Sculptures in Fairbanks, Alaska with their three children.