- Where did you get the ice to create 'Palace Pet' (pictured above)? And what makes for great ice?
- Team Brice: Ice Alaska volunteer crews harvest ice from a local gravel pit. Each team is equally allotted 10 of these 4' x 6' blocks. If the pit is cared for correctly and dredged regularly, the long cold Alaskan winters make for perfect sculpting ice. Once the pond freezes over in October, the thickness of the ice continues to grow throughout the months, sometimes reaching 42" in thickness.
- Between the two of you, how many ice sculpting championships have you won?
- Team Brice: Between the two of us, we have 21 World Championship titles (Steve 15, Heather 6), and dozens of other 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes in other competitions -- including Ice Magic in Lake Louise Alberta, and the N.I.C.A National Ice Carving Association's Nationals competition.
- What are the secrets to creating an amazing ice sculpture?
- Team Brice: Preparation, teamwork, good tools, fine-tuned skills, practice, quality ice, and stamina.
- What's the most difficult part of creating an ice sculpture such as 'Palace Pet?'
- Team Brice: On 'Palace Pet', we had horribly fractured ice, which created lots of problems when lifting and stacking, primarily the large columns and the delicate ornate panels. -20 below temperatures also made it difficult to clear out the harlequin floor, made for brittle ice, and uncomfortable work conditions.
- How many types of tools do you typically use to chisel a masterpiece? What are they?
- Heather: My husband is an inventor of over 300 different tools and bits made or modified specifically for ice sculpting. Many which can be purchased at www.icesculptingtools.com. Primarily, we use Stihl chain saws, Makita die grinders, pistol grip sanders, and chisels of many sizes. We each have 20 or more favorite bits [and types of] hand sandpaper for finishing. We're limited to how many tools we take to each competition by baggage pound limits -- or if at home in Fairbanks, pickup-truck loads.
- What's the coldest climate you've ever sculpted in?
- Team Brice: -38 below zero. We keep our hot box with warm gloves close by!
- What are some the greatest sculptures you've created thus far?
- Heather: 'Palace Pet' in 2011. Steve's favorite before I had even started sculpting ice was 'Limelight,' 1998 (a gazebo with a ballerina on a toe). 'A Rabbit's View,' 2004 (a 14-foot tiger). 'Allure,' 2006 (an angler fish by Heather and Aunt Joan Brice). 'Beach Walker,' 2006 (a crab by Steve and Junichi). 'Levitation,' 2007 (in Lake Louise with the help of my retired doctor/dad, Ralph Wells). 'A Little Help,' 2007 (a lion w/ mice). 'Blue Ring Octopus,' 2010 (Junichi and Heather). 'Saltwater Safari,' 2010. 'Mask,' 2011. And our year-round primary work in progress, 'The Aurora Ice Museum,' at Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska.
- Which ice sculpture would you call your 'Mona Lisa?'
- Heather: Steve would say 'Limelight.' I still have my 'Mona Lisa' to create. Our final piece with Ice Alaska, 'Palace Pet' came close. We really put our all into trying to help Ice Alaska survive by creating something amazing.
- Is it deflating that so many of your greatest works simply melt away?
- Team Brice: As long as we get a high-quality photograph taken, the temporal aspect of our work is just part of the game and part of the allure.
- What's the oddest piece someone's ever commissioned you to sculpt at Brice and Brice Ice Sculptures?
- Team Brice: The year-round Ice Museum cooled with geothermal water at Chena Hot Springs Resort Alaska.
Q&A With World-Champion Ice Sculptors, Heather and Steven Brice
Meet Heather and Steven Brice, world-champion ice sculptors. In 2011, they placed second in the World Ice Art Championships for their stunning 'Palace Pet' (pictured). Read on as they reveal the teeth-chattering secrets behind creating such incredibly detailed labors of love -- that melt away as quickly as they appear.
The 2013 competition kicks off Feb. 26. Check out our gallery of 2012 highlights.