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Sculptures steal show at mall

Students display carving skills

NILES — While bright sunlight and rising temperatures did create some issues, various ice sculptures of animals, birds and logos were displayed Sunday outside the Eastwood Mall Events Centre.

The large-sized ice scupltures were done by Jim Loiko, owner of Images in Ice in Cleveland, and by Kent State University hospitality students. The hospitality students take a class that includes carving ice as part of the curriculum and they come to the events center to showcase their work.

Loiko said the Cafaro Company donates the space for them to do demonstrations.

“The students come here and have a little fun. They did 10 ice sculptures and I did some, including the front entrance piece. The public loves watching this,” he said.

Loiko, who has been ice carving for 28 years, said he likes doing water animals, mythological creatures, mermaids and also does work for restaurants, bars and retailers, including reindeer for the Christmas season, which he begins working on in September and October.

“A place will call me and ask if I can do something in ice for them,” he said.

For Mardi Gras later this month, he is doing a variety of masks and a jester head in ice.

Loiko said the sun and higher temperature does cause the sculptures to melt more quickly, and water could be seen dripping from the sculptures on Sunday.

He said the KSU students come with a template they use in class, put the template on the ice and outline it, and then cut the ice with a chainsaw.

Loiko said the ice show is an introduction to the trade, giving them the tools and training to know how to do it.

“Most of the students have never held a chainsaw before. They take a safety class before this starts. They come into the hospitality industry knowing all the possibilities of what they can do,” he said

Loiko said he enjoys working with chefs who themselves are creative and help make him better.

He said he remembers a company called him once that had a French theme outside, and he did a 9.5-foot-high ice sculpture of the Statue of Liberty that weighed 1,200 pounds, requiring him to buy a special lift to move it.

Mandy Ulicney, associate lecturer for the Kent State University hospitality and event management department, said many students in hospitality and event management program take part in the ice sculpting demonstration, which has been held for several years,

“We incorporate this event into two classes. One is catering and the other is the business of events management. The students in both classes come together to put on this event,” Ulicney said,

The demonstration previously was hosted in Geneva before being moved to Niles.

Kyra Bradley of Richfield, a Kent student, did an Ohio State University ice sculpture. She said she works at a hotel and likes being able to work with people.

Lawrence Carter, Kent instructor and president of the hospitality advisory board, said it is important for hospitality students to have experience in ice sculpting.

“They get guidance not only from their instructors but professionals in the industry. They learn in a way they could not just learn in the classroom. Many bars like having ice sculptures or having them at events with the seafood,” Carter said.

Mat Jacobson of Sharon, Pa. was among those watching the ice sculptors at work.

“If I had an ice pick, I would be helping. This is awesome. I learned about this yesterday,” he said.

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