Duncan Hamilton

Ice Sculptor


What I do

I’m an ice sculptor, which means I design and make carvings out of ice and snow. I work in London with a team of other experienced sculptors that I’ve trained myself! A lot of our work is done in the freezer, but we also work at normal temperatures and create live sculptures at public events. We use crystal clear blocks of ice that weigh 100kg most of the time, and we make them in our workshop. We use a range of tools to carve out ice sculptures, like chainsaws and Japanese ice saws.

How I got my job

I first started working as a chef in London in the 1960s, where I fell in love with the creative side of cooking. In the early years of  the 20th century there had been a tradition of chefs sculpting the blocks of ice which were delivered to hotels and restaurants for keeping food fresh. In modern times, this method had died away, but I was determined to save it. I started sculpting ice and selling my sculptures to different places and, in 1983, I gave up cooking to become the UK’s first full-time ice sculptor!

What I love about my job

I get to work with lots of different people doing what I do. As well as working on parties and events we also get to work with other artists, with theatre and opera companies, on film sets and with amazing photographers. Christmas is our favourite time of the year because we’re asked to do lots of public events for families and children.

We’re working on the 30th Anniversary DVD of The Snowman at the moment!

What’s difficult about my job

Working in a freezer at -25°C can be difficult, but you do get used to it. The hardest thing about my job is probably using the ice because it can be really unpredictable. Sometimes it can be really fragile and sometimes it’s too soft so it breaks under our chisels. We have to be careful because, when you drop ice, it doesn’t bounce!

Where to start

If you want to get a taste of what it’s like, you could come to one of the classes that we run and see how you find it. We run them throughout the year and they’re a great way to experience using all of the equipment without having to pay for it.

Check out icesculpture.co.uk for more information.