Turning a Sculpting Talent Into Cold, Hard Cash
Gallery courtesy of Smooth-On, Inc.
“How Nice Ice” has provided ice sculptures for private parties, professional sports team banquets (such as the NFL Giants and Jets, NJ Devils, NY Yankees and Mets, and more) government functions, country clubs, high-end restaurant buffets and other events since 1999.
Humble Beginnings: Ernesto Escobedo first sculpted an ice fairy for his cousin’s wedding reception in 1995. From that single event, requests for his creations in ice grew and grew until he was able to quit his job as a print framer for Michaels Arts & Crafts. A friend of Ernesto’s, who is a butcher, let him use his walk in freezer to temporarily store the ice sculptures. But soon the freezer had more sculpture than meat.
Growing Pains: Ernesto’s sculptures became so popular, that he was able to increase his prices significantly (ten times his original asking price) without hurting demand. In fact, he was still turning away a lot of business. The reason: sculpting in blocks of ice (some as high as 6’/ 2m) is very time consuming.
Finding the Way Forward: At the suggestion of a former college professor, Ernesto attended a Smooth-On mold making & casting seminar. With that knowledge, he then developed a plan for production that would let him reproduce many ice sculptures at a time. Instead of sculpting a block of ice, Ernesto sculpted in clay and made a brush-on mold using Smooth-On’s Rebound® 25 brush-on silicone rubber followed by a Plasti-Paste® support shell.
Ernesto made his first brush-on rubber mold of a peacock sculpted in clay with ornate scroll work, poured water into the mold and let it freeze in his friend’s freezer. The ice casting was perfect and, through a cousin that works there, he sold the first six to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City for Sunday morning brunch at their world famous Peacock Alley Restaurant. His client list quickly expanded to include the QE II luxury cruise liner when it docks in New York Harbor and New York City Mayoral functions.
Production in Overdrive: Ernesto bought his friend’s butcher shop and converted the entire building into a walk-in freezer for storing molds and making castings. In the winter, he does a lot of casting outside to save space and energy costs. Ice castings range in size from 18” (46 cm) to over 6’ (2m) high.
Ernesto’s mold inventory now numbers in the hundreds and he casts water and demolds ice castings 50 - 150 times per day depending on the time of year. Spring wedding season is an especially busy time. “How Nice Ice” currently has nine employees and two refrigerated trucks that deliver to all 5 boroughs of New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.