Resident carves out his niche

by Dan Holland

Aaron Costic, owner of Elegant Ice Creations, located at 4001 Towpath Rd., has been carving out a name for himself in the ice art industry for more than 30 years. The profession has taken him around the world on many occasions whether for competitions, community events or specialized commissions.

“I’ve had a chance to travel around the world with this,” said Costic. “I’ve carved ice in China, Japan and the Caribbean, just to name a few areas. I even did an ice carving for the Prince of Monaco.”

Costic first developed an interest in the art form while pursuing a culinary degree in the late 1980s.

“I went to culinary school, and that was where I discovered ice carving, and it just took off from there,” said Costic. “An instructor at the University of Akron took me under his wing, and I went to competitions and learned a bunch of tools and techniques through that.”

Those competitions have included three Winter Olympics – Nagano, Japan in 1998, Salt Lake City in 2002 and Torino, Italy in 2006. Costic won a gold medal at his final Olympics competition.

He explained that the Winter Olympics consist of two components – sporting events and cultural events – with ice sculpting falling into the latter category.

In addition, Costic has claimed first place eight times in the World Ice Art Championships held in Fairbanks, Alaska. He is also a four-time national ice carving champion.

The business, which previously operated near Broadview and Royalton roads going back to 1991, now employs 11 persons. Costic moved from his native Broadview Heights to Nebo, North Carolina a few years ago. He travels back to participate in events and carvings during the wintertime, while initiating emails and phone calls for the business at other times of the year.

Locally, Costic’s creations were most recently viewed at the Medina Ice Festival Feb. 16-19 on Medina Public Square. He displayed more than 100 carvings at the event, with a number of them being carved on site as a demonstration. He also performed three live ice carving demonstrations at Broadview Heights Winterfest on Dec. 2.

Area customers include hotels, caterers, country clubs and other businesses. The company also sells directly to the public for weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, corporate events and other occasions. Elegant Ice Creations produces more than 2,000 ice carvings annually. Ice carvings displayed at indoor events generally hold their basic shape for about six hours, he said.

The carvings, produced from blocks of ice stored on site, undergo a seven-step process, Costic explained. “The first step is to draw the design out. The second is to cut out the silhouette, kind of like a cookie cutter. The third step is to block it in and push certain levels back and leave certain levels forward. Then you round it, followed by sanding, detailing and cleaning.”

Expressing his creative flare and seeing responses elicited from viewers are his favorite parts of the profession, said Costic. “I like designing; creating something out of ice is really unusual because of the transparent component of it,” he said. “It allows the light to pass through it, which allows for some really interesting visual effects. People’s reactions to it are always interesting, whether it’s kids or adults – they tend to get pretty enamored with looking at an ice carving.” ∞

Broadview Heights resident Aaron Costic
got started carving ice during his time in
culinary school and has since taken his
skill to three Winter Olympic games,
winning an Olympic gold medal in 2006.
Photo submitted.