Frozen fun; ice sculpture decorates downtown Houghton

Positively U.P.

HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – Outside Armando’s Restaurant for the past 8 years during Winter Carnival at Michigan Technological, Rich Pethtel has carved an ice sculpture.

Pethtel is a chainsaw sculptor based out of Chassell. He says the idea came from the City of Houghton and it’s the only time he carves ice during the year.

“This year I did a man in the moon, I did a couple owls sitting in a tree and I made this angel wing ice bench so as you sit in the bench and get your picture taken it looks like you have massive ice angel wings,” said Pethtel.

Pethtel says he tries to do something different every year but this year’s angel wing bench was inspired by a throne he did last year that went over well. Normally, he spends his time carving wood and says working with ice is different.

“Carving ice is actually really easy other than how fragile it can be it carves as fast as you can think with wood it’s a lot slower there’s more resistance but with ice it’s like carving butter,” said Pethtel.

The carvings are done with special chainsaws.

“I have a couple different chainsaws that I use for carving wood and it’s not your everyday chainsaw like you just run into a hardware store and buy it runs a special bar and a special chain on a special sprocket,” said Pethtel.

He says he starts with a larger chainsaw but as the carving gets more detailed the chainsaws get smaller. Pethtel says he’s always been an artist and was interested in carving but never thought it could be a full-time job.

“Ever since I was a kid I kind of thought I could so I bought a chainsaw and gave it a try and my very first carving sold before I was even done with it and I just never stopped making them,” said Pethtel.

Pethtel says he likes being a chainsaw sculptor because it’s fun.

“I have the coolest job of anybody that I know and I really enjoy it, I like pushing myself to make each piece better than the last,” said Pethtel.

To find more about Pethel’s work visit Presence Chainsaw Sculpture on Facebook.

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