Breaking News Bar
updated: 1/4/2013 2:19 PM

Moving Picture: Wheaton man a world-class ice carver

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Dan Rebholz said his favorite tool is the chain saw, but he also uses a variety of hand drills with varying bits for detail work when carving ice. Rebholz has carved more than 15,000 pieces using 5 million tons of ice.

       Dan Rebholz said his favorite tool is the chain saw, but he also uses a variety of hand drills with varying bits for detail work when carving ice. Rebholz has carved more than 15,000 pieces using 5 million tons of ice.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Rebholz of Wheaton stores 300-pound blocks of ice he froze for carving and his finished pieces inside a walk-in freezer at his Villa Park studio.

       Dan Rebholz of Wheaton stores 300-pound blocks of ice he froze for carving and his finished pieces inside a walk-in freezer at his Villa Park studio.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Rebholz carves texture into an elephant sculpture at his World Class Ice Sculpture studio in Villa Park.

       Dan Rebholz carves texture into an elephant sculpture at his World Class Ice Sculpture studio in Villa Park.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Rebholz uses a variety of power drills with varying bits as well as grinders and sanders for detail work or to create texture in his sculptures.

       Dan Rebholz uses a variety of power drills with varying bits as well as grinders and sanders for detail work or to create texture in his sculptures.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Despite collecting a large number of tools over the years, Dan Rebholz said his favorite tool remains the chain saw.

       Despite collecting a large number of tools over the years, Dan Rebholz said his favorite tool remains the chain saw.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Dan Rebholz's studio office shelves and walls are filled with trophies and awards he has won. He is ranked sixth in the U.S. by the National Ice Carving Association.

       Dan Rebholz's studio office shelves and walls are filled with trophies and awards he has won. He is ranked sixth in the U.S. by the National Ice Carving Association.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Moving Picture: The Ice Carver

 
 

Ice sculptors can be hot and cold.

Dan Rebholz of Wheaton is a room temperature ice carver.

"There are cold weather and warm weather carvers," Rebholz said. "I just learned to carve at room temperature and can carve a lot faster that way. If I need to add extra detail to a sculpture I can suit up and do the work in our freezer."

Rebholz has carved more than 15,000 pieces using 5 million pounds of ice in his 27 years with the art form. The master ice carver makes 300-pound blocks of ice for carving at his World Class Ice Sculpture studio in Villa Park.

"We've been asked to freeze anything from wedding rings to TV sets," Rebholz said of the projects he's made from the crystal clear ice blocks, which take three to four days to make in one of his ice block makers.

Rebholz taught himself to carve ice after enrolling in culinary school and seeing his first carving.

"It's a unique art form that I am passionate about," Rebholz said. "I like being my own boss ... and the camaraderie between sculptors at competitions."

His work is comprised largely of creating pieces for special occasions, stenciling the ideas by hand using an overhead projector, then making a final large stencil to use for carving, which he places directly onto the block of ice.

"After sculptures are complete I spray them with water to smooth out the cuts, then a use a blowtorch to make the pieces glisten and look like glass," Rebholz said.

Rebholz has come a long way since his early days of cutting into the ice blocks with just a few simple tools.

"When I started out I had a chain saw, power hand drill, and an extension cord," said Rebholz, who said his favorite tool is still the chain saw. His carving arsenal now includes sanders, grinders, melting plates, irons, a propane torch and a water sprayer.

Rebholz is also owner and lead instructor of the American Ice Carving Academy which he operates at his studio, teaching others the same craft that has fascinated him for nearly three decades.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here