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Learning to Carve Ice with Ice Sculptor Shintaro Okamoto — How to Make It


– First time using a chainsaw. (heavy music) – We are in Astoria, Queens at Okamoto Studios and I’m about to go meet my friend Shintaro who’s gonna show me how to make an ice bowl. Founded in 2003, Okamoto’s
Studio and its artists not only make beautiful
sculptures, but they provide some of the
finest cocktail ice for the best bars in the city. From Fashion Week to bar
mitzvahs, Okamoto sculptures are both beautiful and functional. – I hear there’s a lot
power tools in there. I’m a little nervous. Let’s go see what this is about. (heavy guitar music) How does one become an ice carver? What does it take? – What does it take? – To be an ice carver? – Oh man. – I know nothing. – The act of carving
is almost identical to carving wood or stone, where we have y’know, tools that we have,
to carve down to make the final form. – I’ve always felt like I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. So this is going to be really interesting. – Well, you work in the kitchen. – Yes – And that’s
– I work with my hands – It’s working with your hands, it’s about relationship with tools– – Yeah. – That’s in front of you. – And a really steep learning curve. – Very steep. – So this is the Clinebell ice machine. – [Kate] This looks like all water to me. – Actually if you put your hand in here, it literally stops right there. – Oh my gosh. – That’s where the ice is. So ice is pretty much grown. We want our blocks to be at least nine to 10 inches. That’s kind of the maturity
of the thickness of ice. First thing we do is we stop the pump. (motor whirring)
(heavy guitar music) Now it’s out. – Has anyone ever dropped this block? – It’s dangerous stuff, you know. Ice is wet, heavy, slippery. It’s not easy. – So at this point, we can
go straight to carving? – We would not carve this right away, because the machine is very, very cold. – Right, so this is too cold to carve. – This is too cold to carve. – Cold to carve – For us, yeah
– Okay – So let’s put this on
a bandsaw and clean up the top. – Okay, the bandsaw though, I’m scared. – It’s an intimidating machine. – It’s so intimidating (laughs) – It’s a beast. And tilt. – Oh my gosh. (gears cranking) – You’re gonna put your
whole body into it. There you go. Okay, that is probably
just right, good enough. – Okay.
– There you go. And let’s turn the switch on. – This is terrifying. (exciting music) – Go, go, go, go, go, go. – Oh my gosh. – Nice, then we just push this back in nice and square for people to use. – Now you do this 100
times, you’ll be a pro. (laughs) – I would also be ripped. – So today the first thing we gonna do is, we gonna make an ice bowl, okay. This is something that we
do here when we’re actually looking for a new
sculptors to join our team. It’s kind of our test piece. I don’t expect anybody to
really make a beautiful bowl, but it’s a really
great way for you to touch all range of tools–
– Right. – and see if you can follow directions. And just kind of see
your relationship with equipment and tools in general. – I can hardly cut in a straight line and all these curved, smooth round, a bowl! They start with a bowl?! (laughing) – So first, I’m gonna draw the circle. (scrapping) I’m gonna give you a V
chisel right here for you. – Thank you. – So what I want you to do
is for the outside circle, I want you to take out the right
side of the lines, alright. – Got it. – Not the inside, but the outside. You know, go a little bit
and then kind of brush it off so you can see your lines. And basically just go all the way around. – Alright. – So once you get that
going we’re going to head right into the chainsaw. – Then it’s chainsaw time? – Let’s do it. (scraping ice) – So, Shintaro, how many sculptures are being produced daily here? – In general, I say we go
through about 50 blocks a week. – Five zero? – Yeah, and then right
here, these two equals one full block. During the holiday seasons,
we’ll probably go through about 150, 200 blocks a week. So it keeps us busy. So here, like we talked
about earlier, first we want to do is knock out all excess ice. – And we’re going straight down. – We’re going straight down. We gonna make a cylinder now. (chainsaw whirring) – So I got that little piece off and now you just go for the little minor pieces. Again, following the lines,
just following the lines. (saw whirring) That’s pretty much it. – Cool. – So let’s go all the way around. – Alright. (heavy guitar music)
(chainsaw whirring) – That looks great! – Alright. – So you go a great,
good-looking cylinder. – Did you hear that? (laughing) – So now we gonna take
out the center cavity. – Uh-oh
– Okay – How do we do that? – And this one’s probably
the trickiest cut that we’re gonna do, because what
we wanna do is basically go in diagonally, okay. Without hitting this line. Being inside, but as close as possible. – So we’re coming in right on it? – Yep. – But at an angle. – Yeah, right in an angle. So I’m gonna go in more
or less at 45 degrees. (saw whirring) Pretty much like that. (heavy guitar music) – It’s already done. – Will that go in? There you go. – Ah yeah. – Voila. – It’s like a diamond. – There you go. But you really preserved
the lines which is great. – Okay. – They all stayed inside. The next step–
– Smooth it out. Is to use a smaller flat chisel. I’m going to take the excess ice away, right up to the line. Next step, once you go all around, is to make this point meet
to the very, very bottom. – Okay.
– Right. You’re going to have some challenge because you went pretty deep. Very, very deep. And the deeper you go, more
you have to travel down. (laughing) Right? And then you have to
imagine this being a bowl. You don’t want to go straight down. – Right. – You kinda want to bowl
it out ideally, okay. – This bowl can hold one
small bottle of water. – Second cut you go straight down. – Okay.
– Okay? – I noticed how you held this right away. Like if someone picks up a chef’s knife by the handle, you know what’s up. – Yeah. – You gotta choke up on
it have more control. That makes total sense to me. – I mean, there’s a lot
of common ground … – It’s really important.
– To it – Alright, we’ll see how far that gets me. – Let’s get to it. (guitar music) – This is really satisfying. (guitar music) – How’s it going. – I’m realizing just how steep this is. (laughing) I wasn’t lying about one
single bottle of water. There’s no turning back from here though. His looks a lot smoother than mine. – I’m in a pretty good place. How about you? – I don’t know, you can
be the judge of that. – You got some gouges here. – It’s really deep! – I’m not getting hired. – You know it’s a little bit skewed. I can see that there’s more meat here. – So those first cuts
are really determining. – Yeah
– The outcome. – There’s no wrong moves. Everything is so important
to move on to the next thing. You can’t get a job here
carving bowls like this. – And now what we want to do
is just finetune the shape. We’re gonna finish this inside now. And we’re gonna that
with the handsaw here. You’re gonna grab it
and pull it toward you. – Wow, this little saw has
its work cut out for it. (scraping) – And then make your way around. – Cool.
– Alright? (heavy guitar music) – So this bottom is
kinda like, I’m afraid to take more out of it. – Well you know, well here’s
the thing, it’s a bowl. So serious someone fills it
up, no one’s gonna see this. And then this thing melts
away, no one sees your mistake. It’s gone. (laughing) Far as we know, you made a perfect bowl. – Yeah, I did. – So now what I’m gonna
do, is I’m gonna flip this. Slide this end. And this is going to be
our foot of this bowl. (chainsaw whirring) Now I have this first cut here. You can use this as a guide. – Right. – To just cut around. Adjust your body as you go. – Well judging by my first
side, I’m not too hopeful. (chainsaw whirring) – I think this is most fun step. ‘Cause then–
– Kind of shaping it – Now you’re finally shaping it. – It’s really amazing to me to watch you, and quickly make just such clean, smooth, amazing things. – It’s amazing how much
finesse you can get out a chainsaw. Let’s see if you can finish this guy now. – Yeah.
(laughs) (heavy guitar music) – That looks good. – It’s a bowl. – Now we just gonna take out small bumps and small imperfections. – Smooth it out. – Smooth it out and pull it towards you. Gonna feel that shape. Give that nice curvature
from here to here. (ice scraping) – Alright, I’m afraid
to take any more off. – Cool, you’ve got a great
shape going on there. – It’s a little gougey. – All that smooth. What I would like to do
is just to give just a little bit of decorative element. – Wow. – Again, that gives a nice little– – Yeah. – here. Right. – So you do on the other
side, other side and then kinda go around. – Two in between. Okay. (ice chipping) – This one, not for sale. – So I have an aluminum plate that’s been warming up. And I wanna kind of give
a nice little shine. A perfect surface. It’s just warm so you can kinda grab it. And then let’s just kind
of iron the top surface. You can kinda feel it melting. – Ooh, I like doing this. So it’s not a very
long, it’s just a little smoothing action. – As soon as you really
feel like just gotta get a surface going. – Oh my gosh, look how clear that is. – I hope you had a good time. – It was awesome. Like when would I ever get
to do something like this. Thank you so much. – You’re always welcome to come here. – Really, really cool. – Yeah. (laughs) – I hope you liked this episode. If you want to see something from our sister brand, The Verge, click here. – Whenever I travel now,
I only take one of these computers with me at a time. And each has it’s strengths and each has its pitfalls. Depending on your needs,
you could be happy with any one of them as your only computer. But they all have
trade-offs and none of them do exactly everything that I want. (music chord)

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