Frozen lifesize versions of Darth Vader, Homer Simpson and Mickey Mouse will be chilling out in Belfast this weekend as Northern Ireland’s only ice sculptor shows off his skills.
Bangor man Graeme Stratton, 38, was working in a factory up until 10 years ago when he took the plunge and went where no one in the Province had gone before.
“I’m the only ice sculptor in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“That’s why I went into the ice sculpting business, because there was a gap in the market. Ten years on and I’m still the only one doing it.”
It started out as a family business with Graeme’s wife Debbie, mother and father all lending a hand, but now Graeme is going it alone.
He said: “My wife and I bought a few moulds of swans and cherubs at the start but they weren’t great. They were very restrictive.”
But it wasn’t enough to give them cold feet.”
He said: “We’d invested so much money that we stuck at it. We went to Canada for ice sculpting training for three weeks.
“My wife is very artistic. The business was set up for her originally but when we were out in Canada I gave it a go as well and really enjoyed it.
“When we got back my wife got sick and wasn’t able to sculpt any more so I kind of took over.”
He added: “I don’t work off moulds any more. I make my own blocks, lovely clear ice to work with.
“I’ve done a lot of my own research, learnt about tools, sculpting techniques.
“I work inside a four-metre by three metre freezer. We’ve got a couple of other big freezers as well for extra ice.
“I wear a big snow suit, a pair of fleece lined boots and gloves when I’m working.”
Graeme’s sculptures are used mainly for weddings with his ice creations forming part of some wedding packages in major NI hotels.
He also does corporate work including a set of eight-foot ice wings for a Harp lager promotion and was responsible for the ice work on a series of the Frankenstein Chronicles starring Sean Bean.
From 9am to 6pm today Graeme’s ice sculptures will form part of Belfast’s first ever ‘Fire and Ice’ exhibition which takes place in Royal Avenue outside Castlecourt Shopping Centre.
Graeme said: “All the ice sculptures for this event are between five and six foot. There’s 10 of them going out including Homer Simpson, Darth Vader, Olaf from Frozen, Mickey Mouse and a lot of other animals.”