For those interested in adding some extra flair to their holiday celebrations in the form of ice sculptures, there aren't many better locations than central Ohio.

For those interested in adding some extra flair to their holiday celebrations in the form of ice sculptures, there aren't many better locations than central Ohio.

Greg Butauski is literally a master of his craft. One of just a handful of Certified Master Carvers in the world, he runs Rock on Ice, one of central Ohio's only ice-carving companies, at 4910 Carters Corner Road north of Sunbury.

Butauski has traveled the world sculpting, winning a plethora of awards along the way. His trophy case includes an Olympic gold medal in ice sculpture -- as part of the Olympic Arts Festival portion of the games -- and multiple national and world championships.

Thanks partially to his notoriety, Rock on Ice has become the go-to ice sculptor for anything from massive displays at holiday events to ice luges at fraternity parties.

Local residents had a chance to view the work of another Rock on Ice sculptor, Jeff Petercsak, who demonstrated his skills during Canal Winchester's Christmas in the Village event on Dec. 2.

Recently, Butauski has largely made the transition into administrative duties, handing the chain saws to his longtime apprentice, Titus Arensberg.

Arensberg, like many ice sculptors, has a culinary arts background. He always wanted to do something artistic, but said he couldn't seem to find a career path that involved his passions and a paycheck.

One day, while attending Columbus State Community College, he saw someone carving ice and was immediately hooked. Eventually, he found his way to Butauski, convincing the master to let him apprentice.

After more than 12 years, Arensberg is producing some of Rock on Ice's biggest projects, and he can still hardly believe it.

"I basically spent 10 years grinding (Butauski) down, and he finally hired me," Arensberg said. "I'm just glad he thinks my stuff is good enough to sell."

Most ice sculptors don't only work in frigid conditions. Butauski also carves cheese competitively, while Arensberg got his start carving pumpkins and melons.

While apprenticing, he was featured in local publications for his pumpkin work, and has won awards for melon-carving, which he started while working as an executive sous chef at the Granville Inn in Licking County.

His hobby caught the attention of coworkers, who sometimes gave him an odd glance. But when he was hired full time at Rock on Ice, he said he got a lot of "it's about time" remarks.

"Everybody was cooking and I was over in the corner playing with my melons," he recalled.

But what's so fascinating to people about ice sculpting?

"That it's a giant ice cube," Arensberg said with a laugh. "I have 50-year-old people who have to come up and touch it like, 'Is it really real?' "

He also admitted it's "definitely the power tools, too."

Those tools are a major part of the job, but Arensberg likes using implements other than the standard chain saws. More precise power tools help, but he also enjoys going classical with his hammer and chisel -- though that's less of a crowd-pleaser.

On his bench in Rock on Ice, Arensberg has two dozen various tools, all with a specific purpose.

The Rudolph sculpture is a standard piece for Arensberg. Many works -- especially Ohio State University's "Block O" -- come from a standard sheet of options. But items such as ice luges (which he said means a party is "going to get out of control") or company-specific ice logos can take significantly more time.

Sculptures can cost from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the work and how it's delivered or preserved, giving customers nearly endless options.

Mastery of his craft has opened doors for Arensberg. He often goes to Colorado for Christmas carving competitions, which have resulted in frostbite on his fingers, but a lot of awards and stories to go with it.

Now, he's planning a possible trip to China, and can see himself following in Butauski's footsteps, despite being fairly new.

"I'm still eager to get out there and travel," he said.

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