They will tell you that you should do what you’re good at, what comes natural to you.  I (Harold) was doing just that, serving as a Regional Director in an agency that supports adults with developmental disabilities.  And with 8 kids at home it only made sense that Valerie was a stay at home Mom.  We were on a cruise to Cabo San Lucas for our 25th Anniversary in April of 2004 just minding our own business and looking forward to a wonderful week of relaxing in the sun and celebrating a really great marriage.

While on the top floor of the ship one evening, we saw a chess piece being carved out of ice and then later displayed on one of the buffet tables. It was Valerie who heard the carver mention that the ice block was purchased for $300.00. (It was probably the finished sculpture). Always on the lookout for new ways to supplement our income, this was enough to perk her interest: “I can freeze water for $300.00!”

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Once arriving back home she started doing some research on ice sculptures and discovered a company in Australia called Ice Craft International that sold ice molds. ( They were really expensive but we bought four of them and decided to take Vancouver by storm. Having no exposure to ice sculptures, how were we to know that not everyone would want an angelfish, a swan or an urn?

Always looking for ways to cut corners and re-invent the wheel, we even tried to make our own molds out of latex and fiberglass. What a stinky, messy failure that was! I can still smell the drying fiberglass to this day!

We did also freeze some of our own ice in tubs and pails in the freezer,  and I even bought Valerie and cheap little chainsaw from Canadian Tire for Christmas just to satisfy her budding curiosity over ice sculptures.  So it was Valerie who actual carved some of our first ice.  But it was when I tried it for myself that I got hooked and we were off to the races.  This is sooo cool.  Where can we learn more???

Everything was a new experience for us. Another ice carver here in BC was kind enough to show us their operation and put a chisel in our hands for the very first time.  Eager to learn, we made trips to various ice carvers around North America, to learn the dos and don’ts of the business. One trip was especially helpful, when we visited Ice Culture in Hensel, Ontario. Julian Bailey was so kind to show us around his warehouse and studio and begin giving us advice that we still cherish to this day. With the right amount of innocence, ignorance and encouraging friends, we were off and running on our new hobby.

As you come along with us in our journey, we will blog about a lot of these experiences, and how we learned to do what we do. Since our only possible teacher was our competition, we really had to learn on our own. There really was noon one to sit down with, no class on ice carving.  Just lots and lots of trial and error.  We owe so much to certain friends that made it their mission to encourage us along the way.  We have to chuckle now at their faith in us.

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The experts will tell you need to have a business plan.  Well we didn’t even know where this was going.  As people asked us for a centerpiece or a punch bowl we said “yes” and then put ourselves to the task of figuring out how to carve (mould) it.   Our little hobby was taking shape, and soon we had a real business on our hands.  We quickly found out that 4 ice molds was not enough.

Didn’t we say we had a story to tell?? We are just hitting the tip of the iceberg.

Stay tuned for more cool insights from #theicemen (so many puns).