FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — With the High On Ice Festival only a week away, the City of Fort St. John is sharing information on the professional ice carvers creating pieces for the community’s viewing pleasure.
The High On Ice Winter Festival is an annual event that takes place at Centennial Park. This year, the festival will go from February 17th to the 20th with the theme of “Explore the Folklore.”
The festival features winter-themed events, including ice slides and ice carving.
The City of Fort St. John said it is excited to welcome each of the carvers back to the festival in 2023.
2023 High On Ice Winter Festival ice carvers:
Tony Baisas comes from a small town in the Philippines called Paete, which was proclaimed the carving capital of the Philippines by the country’s 14th president, Gloria Macapagal, on March 15th, 2005.
“My hometown is known for woodworking and carvings of many kinds, such as wood and fruit,” Baisas said.
“We are known for our carved wooden sandals, the Bakya. Much like the Dutch have their signature wooden clogs, Paete has our own beautifully hand-carved footwear chiselled with various remarkable designs.”
Baisas’ father taught him how to carve wood when he was 12.
At the end of the 1980s, when ice carvings were in high demand, he took the opportunity to work abroad.
He worked at a 5-star hotel as a “kitchen artist” in 1992, carving ice, fruits, vegetables, chocolate and styrofoam, learning that he liked carving these materials more than wood.
Baisas participates in culinary carving and ice-carving competitions around the world.
Ryan Cook has spent the last 12 years chainsaw carving full-time.
The city said he began his carving career on the TV show, Saw Dogs by being cast as “the Apprentice,” when in truth, he was an actor who had never carved before.
Cook found his passion on the show and has since dedicated his time to carving.
After three years, he became a professional carver and won many competitions.
Cook chainsaw carves full-time in Vancouver, B.C., and has been ice carving for the last eight years.
He also travels the world to carve wood and ice.
Saw Dogs wasn’t the last show Ryan was on. He is one of the main cast members on HGTV’s show Carver Kings, and he appeared on the Netflix shows Virgin River and Big Timber.
Most recently, he was a judge on the Discovery Channel TV show A Cut Above.
He is the first Canadian to be supported by Echo Canada, Cannon Bars, Makita Power Tools, Arbortech, Saburrtooth and Pfanner.
He is also a Dremel influencer.
Cook owns Saw Valley Carvings Inc. and puts out weekly content on YouTube.
Scan the QR code for Cook’s Socials:
David Ducharme studied sculpting, ceramics, metal and jewelry at the Kootenay School of the Arts in Nelson, B.C., from 1992 to 1995.
His interest was later piqued by sand, snow and ice sculpting.
Ducharme competed in the World Championship of Sand Sculpture in Harrison, B.C., receiving second place in the solo category and 1st in doubles.
Since the competition, he has travelled worldwide, participating in snow, ice and sand sculpting events.
The sculpting has led him to work with concrete, pumpkin and wood as well.
“In my figurative work, I hope to capture the essence, simplicity or intensity of a moment, bringing it to life,” Ducharme said.
“I hope to share with the world an appreciation for beauty, as well as everyday reality.”
Ducharme’s work can be found on his website.
Dmitri Klimenko received his master’s degree in 2004 from Saint Petersburg State Academy of Industrial Art and Design, Department of Monumental arts.
Klimenko has been in many ice and sand sculpture festivals worldwide, as well as working with ice, bronze and wood.
“I always thought the sculpture was a kind of beautiful art for the ages. Something very serious for the museums and squares,” Klimenko said.
“I never expected the great joy I would find in stepping away from an academic way of thinking.”
He was asked to replace a colleague who was going to participate in an ice contest in Saint Petersburg, which allowed Klimenko to discover a new way of working.
“Every time I push the limits of ice, I discover new ways to play with it. Ice provides never-ending possibilities to grow. That’s why I am always happy to work with this amazing media,” he said.
“Each sculpture is unique and temporary. Each project is a new challenge, and I don’t think I will ever stop working with ice.”
Kevin Lewis was born and raised in the Comox Valley and was given his first chainsaw at 11 years old.
He began logging and falling at 16 and has been a chainsaw wood carver since 1996.
Lewis started ice carving in 2017 at Fort St. John’s High On Ice Festival and has been in love with it ever since.
He has travelled across Canada with his career and has been recognized for his talent as an ice and wood carver.
Lewis specializes in fantasy and wildlife art by carving wood, ice, antler, ivory and bone.
He is also known as the West Coast Chainsaw Artist and Uncle Kevin Carves on YouTube.
Lewis’ outdoor art gallery is along the Brown’s River in Courtenay, B.C., on Vancouver Island.
Guests can walk around the gardens and forested pathways to see Lewis’ chainsaw art, which includes wildlife, fantasy and functional art sculptures.
When outside his gallery, Lewis is carving at exhibitions, fairs and other events across the country.
Susanne Ruseler was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and started sculpting in 2003 while studying biology and living in Utrecht.
“I discovered that I love creating sculptures and started sculpting more and more. After receiving my master’s degree in animal behaviour and ecology, I started my own sculpture company working with different materials such as snow, ice, sand, clay, foam and concrete,” Ruseler said.
She has been sculpting full-time since 2008 and has travelled all over the world to work on projects and participate in events and competitions.
Ruseler’s work can be found on her website.
More information on the High On Ice Festival can be found on the City’s website.
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