Cool as ice: Meet Peter Slavin, Philadelphia's ice sculpting master

ByTom Kretschmer WPVI logo
Saturday, January 13, 2024
Cold as ice: Meet Peter Slavin, Philadelphia's ice sculpting master
Cold as ice: Meet Peter Slavin, Philadelphia's ice sculpting master

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- He first picked up a chainsaw to carve a block of ice at the age of 17. And decades later, the works of art he's created combining ice and power tools have taken him all over the world.

Meet Peter Slavin, Philadelphia's undisputed ice king. He's a master ice sculptor and the founder/lead sculptor of Ice Sculpture Philly.

His process of turning a block of ice into a work of art is evident in every carve and cut.

"There's something so natural about the ice and the sounds that it makes when a sharp chisel or power tool goes into it," Peter explains. "It takes you into a transparent journey that we call Zen. You're so focused in on the ice, you're concentrating and inspired by it and it's so Zen to feel it."

He loves carving these frozen sculptures live on the spot for onlookers and passersby.

"It gives kids a chance to be outside and away from phones and screens. Families can get together and actually touch the sculptures. And they can actually touch them. Unlike in a museum, we want kids to touch the sculptures."

He's been carving in Philadelphia for 25 years. He's travelled so much over the years that he says he'd love to concentrate more on showing his artform off locally. He's got a growing business now carving ice for numerous festivals, private functions and competitions. He loves working with younger artists as they grow into the art form.

"That magic right there gets me so excited. My team, they got it now. I get such enjoyment now teaching them showing them."

Peter and his team at Philly Ice Sculptures are busy at their frosty West Philadelphia studio where the magic happens. It's as much an art studio as an ice block warehouse and a place where people are invited to come and watch the ice carving themselves.

"It comes from Philadelphia tap water, frozen into a block of ice, we turn that ice into art and that art becomes a life experience."

Some of those life experiences are made at annual ice sculpture festivals like the one in Media, Pennsylvania. It's called Ice on State. Ice Sculpture Philly creates the frozen art for the festival now in its second year.

The festival draws many visitors to the Delaware County borough's State Street and features a live carving demonstration of a life-size throne. The Media Business Authority hosts the annual winter weekend fun with the help of local business sponsors.

He still marvels at where this art form has taken him. He's won countless competitions and traveled to many different countries across the globe to compete and show off the art form.

"How many people can make a living from frozen water? And turn it into art that disappears in 5 hours? I tell kids, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Be responsible, learn the best you can, focus in and give 100% and you can do anything you want."

You can catch out Peter's amazing ice sculptures by checking out

Check out Ice Sculpture Philly at their site