Grand Opera House


Paul Salmon

Art medium: Ice, more ice and occasionally wood.

Were you always interested in following a creative path? Not necessarily, I actually wanted to be either a pilot, an optometrist or a meteorologist, lol. I ended up going to culinary school when I realized (working at a supper club) that I really loved to cook.

How do you describe your craft? Ice carving is part raw art, and part craftsmanship (a bit like woodworking at times). 
Why ice? My career kind of chose me! I was working as a chef (about 15 years in) when I inherited the ice carving responsibilities at the hotel where I was working (now the Hyatt on Main in Green Bay). After gradually improving, people started calling the hotel to see if they could get ice sculptures done off premise, and that is basically how my business got started back in 1988. You name a holiday or a special occasion, and I’m sure I’ve done a carving for it.

Do you have a favorite and/or perhaps most challenging design? I do have a few favorites, mostly because of the meaning behind them, and the way they made people feel (blessed, ecstatic, happy tears, etc.)!

Are you noticing any trends in requests for ice sculptures? Yes, drink luges continue to be extremely popular. I’m also starting to get more requests for “Celebration of Life” carvings, which can be so very meaningful!

One thing most people wouldn’t guess about ice sculpting: It can be pretty stressful. Think about it—there’s no such thing as a “back-ordered ice sculpture.” It’s always for a specific event, at a specific time and place! Oh, and unlike a piece of furniture (which I do sometimes make out of ice), it has to be kept frozen, but not too cold (less it crack from temperature changes) and protected (it’s fragile) all throughout the delivery transport, and set up. Oh, and did I mention it’s HEAVY!

Why do you love what you do? Love is a strong word (just kidding!). When an ice block is still a raw block, I don’t feel the love, lol. But, when it starts to take shape, and I get to the detailing part, that I do LOVE, seeing it come to life, as a result of your own hands is something that’s hard to compare to.

Early bird or night owl? Night owl, unless it involves fishing or golf!

Music/podcasts while working or silence? Music. Must be loud enough to hear over the power tools I’m using!

Dog or cat person? I own a cat Oreo, she’s awesome. All black, 14 years old, and still a prolific hunter outside, and loves to cuddle inside.

What makes you happiest: When the work is done, the clients are happy, and I get to enjoy time with friends and family!

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