Duane Schmelhaus creates art from a 400-pound block of ice.
“The crystal of the ice kind of caught my eye, caught my heart,” said Schmelhaus.
Duane’s ice sculptures are more than eye-catching. They are show-stopping, eye-popping and jaw-dropping, and they contend in ice art championships all around the world.
“In Alaska, we set a record. It was the tallest structure with Jack and the Beanstalk, it was really impressive,” said the artist.
Trained as a master pastry chef, Duane combines his culinary skills with ice sculpting.
“I love the wow factor of how the food showcases the ice and the ice showcases the food. So, the chefs getting the credit for it, and I’m like in the background,” said Schmelhaus.
He works with dangerous tools like chainsaws, chisels, and blowtorches.
“I’ve been bitten by the chainsaw. There are injuries. I’ve fallen off a 16-foot ladder with a diagram in my hand…just from being in a hurry.”
But working carefully has enabled Duane to enhance his skills by apprenticing alongside some of the very best carvers in the world.
He brings what he learns back to Nashville, where it’s showcased in logos, at parties and celebrations throughout the community.
“It’s shared creativity. If someone has so much passion toward their event, their community, I’m going to give my passion to help them out.”