Greg Butauski’s 23 years of experience in ice carving have resulted in a 2005 World Championship, a position as captain for Team USA at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, a title of Certified Master Carver—one of only six in the country—and the title of current national champ.
So when you need an ice sculpture of a martini glass, as we at Stock & Barrel recently did, there’s really only one guy to call.
In an outbuilding on a former horse farm in Sunbury, Greg’s Rock On Ice company produces 1,500-2,000 sculptures a year. His Clinebelle ice machines put out about 700 blocks of crystal-clear ice annually, utilizing slow freezing and water circulation to ensure the perfect canvas to begin his creations. Whether it’s an ice luge—he carves three to four a week— an entire ice bar, or an exquisite competition piece, Greg is never phased.
So when we set up a makeshift photo studio in his garage just in time for the 50-mph gusts outside to knock out the power, Greg shrugged his shoulders and started working by hand. The chainsaws, drills, and die-grinders lay powerless on his work bench while he cut away chunks with a hand saw and chisel. Every movement intentional, each strike of the chisel getting him one step closer to the vision of a martini glass in his head. For any onlooker—especially one counting on having photos of a giant ice martini glass—this can be pretty nerve-wracking. Since the power was out, the giant walk-in freezer wasn’t doing its only essential job, and opening the door would mean losing a lot of ice…and money.
Every movement is intentional, each strike of the chisel getting him one step closer to the vision of a martini glass in his head.
He couldn’t just walk into the freezer and grab another block. There was no such thing as a do-over. My nerves might have shown a bit when I asked him if he ever has “oh shit” moments, but when he told me, “Those moments don’t happen much when you’ve been doing this as long as I have,” I calmed down a bit.
Beyond his ability to carve the friggin’ giant martini glass, Rock On Ice provides ice to go inside its smaller, more functional brethren. Greg supplies block ice to M at Miranova and sells ice spheres to any whiskey or cocktail drinker who wants to step up their ice program. And after watching him lug our slippery, precious photo subject around his garage as casually as you might carry a box of junk, I was about ready for a strong drink.
So let’s raise a glass to Rock On Ice for the great work, and the nervous times. Cheers.
For more, visit rockonice.com.