National ice carving association uses Oak Brook for home address
"Wave Walkers" is the name of this ice sculpture done by Stephan and Mike Koch at the 2012 National Ice Carving Association International championships. | Photo courtesy of National Ice Carving Association
NAME: National Ice Carving Association
PURPOSE: Promoting ice sculpture or ice carving, networking carvers, education, business and competition across the country and around the world.
CONTACT: (630) 871-8431, fax (630) 871-0839; P.O. Box 3593, Oak Brook, IL 60522; www.nica.org
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:47AM
One of the world’s specialty arts uses an Oak Brook post office box for its headquarters’ address.
Founded in 1987, the National Ice Carving Association is an international organization that promotes ice sculpture or ice carving by networking carvers, as well as offering education, business and competition, according to information from the association.
The association’s Oak Brook address remains from the group’s origins, Executive Director Ken Diederich said.
“Our founding association members were in the Chicago area, and one lived in Oak Brook,” Diederich said. “Our membership fluctuates. We’re in the low 300s now, but we get into the mid-400s most years with the addition of student members.”
Probably the most common place to see ice sculptures is at weddings, where they often are created as a table centerpiece.
Diederich, who lives in Ohio and has visited the Oak Brook area a few times, said ice carving is usually picked up by those attending culinary school.
“Some learn to sculpt from another sculptor, too,” he said. “There is a big connection with the culinary part, but you still have to be skilled in the field of art.”
The National Ice Carving Association sanctions and organizes ice carving competitions around the world. The organization provides guidelines for judging.
Diederich said the carving association sponsors about 20 competitions a year, averaging about 20 participants each.
“We use a variety of hand tools, both electric and non-electric,” Diederich said. “Each carver selects his own tools — some use five to 10; others use 10 to 30.”
Diederich said it takes two to three hours to create an ice carving from a single block of ice, which weighs about 300 pounds. He has been an ice carver for the past 15 years, including the past 10 on the professional level.
“There’s a lot of prep work to get the ice ready,” he said. “At national competitions, I’ve seen carvings up to 50,000 pounds and 30 feet high.”
Ice carvers and sculptors can’t get too attached to their creations. The nature of the medium doesn’t allow for a long life.
“Even if you freeze them, they don’t last very long,” Diederich said.
The not-for-profit ice carving organization has 10 goals:
To create public awareness of ice carving as an art form.
To encourage the use of ice sculpture as a marketing tool.
To provide a calendar of sculpting events across the country, as well as assist in promoting new events.
To offer training to students and continuing education for professionals via video tapes, seminars and articles.
To develop safety standards.
To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and techniques.
To form a network of ice sculptors and encourage fellowship among them.
To develop standardized judging criteria to be used at all NICA sanctioned events.
To provide members with information on tools and other related products.
To select individuals and/or teams to represent the United States in international competitions.