LSA junior Andrew Dickson is an artist but not in the traditional sense. His brushes and colored pencils are a chainsaw and a blowtorch, and his canvas is a 300-pound block of ice.

Dickson is an ice carver and one of three presidents of the University’s Michigan Ice Carving Team. The group creates ice sculptures for sale and for competitions across the state.

He said the uniqueness of the opportunity first drew him in.

“I was looking for something that was outside the mainstream,” Dickson said.

The team was started in 2001 as part of Alice Lloyd Hall’s Arts on the Hill program and is now a full-fledged club advised by Michigan League chef Aaron Bruck.

Most of the team’s 20 some members were recruited with no prior experience.

Engineering junior Stephen Wald, one of the team’s presidents, said that joining the club can be overwhelming at first because of the dangerous tools members use and the difficulties associated with carving ice.

“Ice is really fragile, but at the same time it’s a ton a fun,” he said. “When you mess up you have to keep going.”

But, members say, the amateur nature of the team doesn’t hinder it in competition. This past January, the University received first place at the Plymouth Ice Festival for team competition.

The team usually competes against students from culinary arts programs who learn ice carving as part of their curriculum.

Among the team’s creations are sculptures of the University’s block ‘M’, a starfish, a bear, Pikachu from Pokémon and a glass cup with ice cubes in it.

“You see a lot of animals and swans and fish,” said LSA senior Max Weston, a former team president. “Somebody carved a big tooth brushing itself. I’ve seen submarines, sharks. Last year I carved an elephant fish.”

The team also carves custom sculptures for students and organizations on campus. The sculptures start at a base price of $120.

“We sold a couple to fraternities for Saturday morning activities,” Dickson said.

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