Popular ice sculptor returns to NilesPublished 6:24pm Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Reverend Butter says he is 37 years old, but has been sculpting ice for 40 years.
“I got an early start,” said Butter, who will be in Niles carving ice for the Hunter Ice Festival next week.
Butter said he got his start sculpting ice about 14 years ago after he saw a beautifully carved ice swan at a Christmas party. The Houston, Texas, tattoo artist was so impressed by the sculpture he tracked down its creator and begged to be his apprentice.
The man, who was from Switzerland, refused at first because Butter was not European.
“He pretty much only taught Swiss people,” said Butter. “But I stayed and stayed and was persistent, and, after pretty much doing his yard work and cleaning up around the house, he let me start sculpting.”
The story sounds made up, but Butter says it is the truth.
Today, Butter runs DLG Ice Factory, an ice-sculpting company, in Houston, Texas. The DLG stands for dedication, loyalty and greatness.
Rolando De La Garza is his real name, but he goes by Reverend Butter because “of bill collectors. It’s hard to find me.”
Butter does all his sculptures by hand, an art he said is becoming lost.
“I still do it the old school way, like my mentor, who has retired. I carry on the tradition,” Butter said. “Only about 8 percent of ice sculptors do it by hand, meaning with chainsaws and chisels.”
Butter will be in Niles for the 2012 Hunter Ice Festival, which runs during the weekend of Jan. 14.
He will be involved in the “Ice Fights” that take place on the evening on Jan. 13 and 14.
During the fights, carvers sculpt large blocks of ice into whatever they wish during a limited amount of time. Spectators vote for the best sculpture.
Butter said he would “crush his competitors like potato chips.”
This is the second year Butter has worked the Hunter Ice Festival.
“I appreciate the hospitality I get in Niles, and I look forward to coming back over the years,” he said.