Odd Job: Ice Sculptor
Randy Finch and his Michigan-based crew of eight carve a living out of ice.
He makes more than swans. Finch does his fair share of wedding centerpieces, but outlandish ice sculptures are his specialty: He has carved a full-size pool table, including the balls and cue sticks (above), a moving Ferris wheel and a portrait of Justin Bieber. The job makes for easy conversation at parties: "Excuse the pun, but it's an icebreaker," he says.
It's not the same ice that's in your drink. To create 300-pound blocks of crystal-clear ice (Finch uses 150,000 gallons of water to make more than 20,000 ice sculptures every year), Finch circulates water in an 80-gallon tank to remove air bubbles and impurities. Because it’s so dense, the ice stays frozen longer than regular ice. He fuses blocks of ice together with water and polishes the finished product with bags of warm water. "It's like sanding wood," he says.
It's a chilly day at the office. Finch and his team work inside a 23-by-24-foot freezer wearing boots, aprons and thin cotton gloves. The gloves get soaked quickly, so Finch goes through up to 10 pairs an hour. One upside to the cool temps: They keep him awake. "We'll work 10 to 18 hours in the cold, but I don't seem to get tired," Finch says. "It's amazing."