Ice carver to compete at international level

If you want to hear some good stories, ask Ryan Hill about carving.

The good-humoured carver started his career by learning how to carve soap stone at the Red Barn craft camp on Six Nations. He went on to sell his first piece when he was just 15 years old.

Ryan Hill

“When I was like seven years old I wanted to try carving,” said Hill. “My parents gave me a knife and I started whittling out wood. Then over the years I tried carving here and there.”

Hill said he is “really proud” of his small beginnings at the Red Barn and his first deviation from soap stone led him to try pumpkin carving at a workshop in New York City in October of 2012 at the Botanical Gardens.

“Then I found ice,” he said.

Hill admitted he had always been drawn to ice as a medium. This led to his first try at ice carving in a competition dubbed the Winterlude Public Ice Carving Challenge in Ottawa at Confederation Park, on February 16, 2013.

“The first time I took a chisel to ice I was like ‘wow,’” he said. “I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe the way it cuts. It’s just really different and it’s an unbelievable material to work with”

Hill even took home first place for his icy rendition of an indigenous chief.

“It was a great day, the sun was shining, and that’s how I got into it,” he said. “I was sitting there carving away — trying to go real fast — ’cause I only had two hours, and somebody yelled ‘Ryan!’ I turned around and it was Robert and Donnie Jacobs,” he said, explaining that it was nice to see familiar faces from Six Nations.

Now a member of the Canadian Ice Carvers Society; Hill is the only member of the society to make it past the selection process to get into his second international competition. Within just a few weeks, Hill will be travelling to Ottawa to compete at the ATCO International Ice Carving Competition in Crystal Gardens.

“You have to submit a whole portfolio of what you’ve did before,” he said. “It’s a pretty big deal because there were a lot of entries into the solo category.”

His first attempt at the international level was to see how he measured up, but this time he will be competing in the solo category to carve seven 297 pound blocks of clear ice in hours.

“I’m newer to ice carving so there’s a lot of little subtleties that I don’t know, and that I’m still learning,” he said. “I have experience from last year which is pretty good, because I know what I have to do now.”

But, the fact that tools are so expensive Hill is pushed to have to borrow the tools he needs, but this doesn’t stop him from doing what he loves.

“When I sculpt it’s a feeling, when I carve it’s a feeling. I think it’s like a whole spiritual process and it’s really what’s inside of me, like in my heart that I get to carve,” and Hill hopes to bring that mentality to the table at the international level once again.

Hill’s Facebook page Rock Studio has received more than 300 likes, and he regularly posts his pieces if you would like to check out some of his work.


If you would like to support Hill to find a way to cover the cost of tools, contact him via email or text 343-370-7223.

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