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Award-winning sculptor keeping it cool in Texas

Published 11:16am Monday, January 11, 2010

Niles Daily Star

For 10 years Buddy Rasmussen was the coolest guy in south Texas.

Owner of Signature Ice in San Antonio until 2006, Rasmussen created enough ice sculptures – if they hadn’t melted – to create an entire glassy, ice kingdom.

In his 20-plus-year ice carving career, he estimates he has carved 15,000 sculptures with more than 3 million pounds of ice.

Rasmussen and 18 other professional ice carvers will bring their talents to Niles at the Hunter Ice Festival Jan. 15-17.

Rasmussen fell in love with ice carving as an apprentice chef in Austin, where he met a couple of chefs who were talented ice sculptors.

“When I clocked out every day, I’d just sit there and watch them,” he said.
Eventually Rasmussen got the chance to learn the craft from them and soon built up the skills to begin ice carving full-time.

“I liked working with ice, because it is easy to remove and to carve and for the way it looks like crystal,” he said.

He enjoyed great success with his business and on the professional ice carving competitive circuit.

Rasmussen took first place at the National Ice Carving Championships in 1999, first place in the Ice Magic International Team Competition in 2009 and third place in the World Ice Art Championships in Alaska in 2009, among many other accolades. He also participated in the 2002 Winter Olympics ice sculpting cultural arts event.

Adding to his credentials, he was featured in a one-hour Learning Channel special recently.
Rasmussen was on top of the ice carving world, but something really started to bother him.
“It melts,” he said. “I’ve built over 15,000 sculptures and every single one is gone.”
So Rasmussen sold Signature Ice in 2006 and began his own wood carving business soon after.
“The main reason is it doesn’t melt,” he said. “Wood is more difficult and takes like 50 times longer, but it’s there forever.”

The chilly hobby still has a warm place in his heart, though, as he still does occasional projects and competes in a number of ice-carving competitions.

“I plan on winning worlds this year,” he said matter of factly.

And the Hunter Ice Festival is always one of his favorite places to carve – under one condition.
“If it’s not 10-below,” he said. “Twenty-five degrees would be beautiful.”

San Antonio: an ice sculptor’s paradise?

Rasmussen says the demand for ice sculptures in San Antonio is higher than one would expect.
“There is a huge demand,” he said. “It’s a huge convention town. So a lot of our work was tourism and covention based.”

All of his sculpting is done indoors but the Texas heat still plays a factor.

“Yeah, we gotta rush through it,” he said. “Even when you’re carving in room temperature, there’s no dilly dallying. It will be nice to go up (to Niles) and be able to take my time.”

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