Theron Kingston’s art will never last.
The ice plant where Theron Kingston worked in the 1990s also employed an ice sculptor who was willing to teach Kingston providing he bought his own rather expensive tools. Afraid to make the large investment, he passed on the opportunity. Later, a different sculptor again asked Kingston if he wanted to learn saying, “Grab a tool. If you don’t grab a tool you can’t learn.”
In 2002, Kingston’s first project was a swan. Sculpting mostly with hand chisels, the bird took him over a month to finish. He would work on it until it started melting, and then return it to the freezer. His teacher, Cary Hill, was impressed, and after adding a few finishing touches, they sold the swan. Now Kingston can carve an ice swan in an hour. The change in industry tools has shaved time off the creative process. No longer using hand chisels, Kingston and other sculptors use electric tools such as grinders, chainsaws, routers and Dremels.
Hill offered Kingston a partnership in his Amazing Ice Creations business to help with the lucrative contract Hill picked up for 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics events. The company had never taken on a project of that size and scope, but with the help of other sculptors recruited across the valley, they pulled it off.
Hill retired from the business, and Kingston is now the sole, and busy, owner. One week this summer, Kingston fulfilled ice sculpture orders for an elk, a moose, a deer, a fish, a horse, a guitar and the Salt Lake Temple. The sculptures are carved from 300-pound blocks of ice and will last four to six hours indoors or outdoors as long as they are protected from direct sunlight.
Business increases in winter months, and designs become more lavish. But any time of the year, Amazing Ice Creations will custom create customers’ imaginative designs. For corporate and hotel events, Kingston has built entire working bars complete with stools, and also tables, couches and benches. Hotel ice furniture lasts throughout the winter months until it melts in warm spring weather. Kingston’s carved life-size bears for Teton Village in Wyoming that require only minor monthly clean-up and detail maintenance. He’s even created working luge runs. Each December, he and his team do live performance carvings at Thanksgiving Point and Hogle Zoo.
Kingston explains why he likes to work in ice even though his art is impermanent, “It is a nice medium to work with. The finished product is crystal clear and when the light reflects off it, it gives you something you can’t get with any other medium. Reflecting colors and light shining through; it all comes together.”