Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gone Fishing.

Occasionally an artist gets to discover something new in his work.  This week I was carving a bear on all 4 legs so was working down towards his feet a little at a time.  As you can see below, I never made it to the feet.  Instead I found the water's surface of a fishing stream and determined it was easier to carve water than it  was to carve legs, toes and claws.  And I needed a reason for my bear to be in the water,,, a large salmon.

This piece is about 38 inches wide, carved in red pine, and finished with burning, paint and oil.  It was also customer supplied wood so it's SOLD.  Customer hasn't seen it yet so I hope they like it :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Need a Chainsaw Artist?

Would you like to find a Chainsaw Artist in your part of the world?
I have listed hundreds of chainsaw carvers on my World Map of Chainsaw Artists at Google Maps.  The below banner contains links to my map page detailing how to create your own links to this resource {click left side}, to the Google Maps display with 2 pages of listings {click Google Maps text on banner}, and a KML file which will open in Google Earth {must have Earth installed on your computer} allowing you to 'fly' around the world visiting these artists {click Google Earth text on the banner}.

If you are a Chainsaw Sculptor/Artist/Carver and would like to be added to the map, first check to see if I've already included you.  Then, if necessary, leave a comment here with your website address so I can include you and your carving business.

Click to go to map home page. Click to view map in Google Maps.
Click to view map in Google Earth.

Find Artists Near You & Around The Globe!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why is it always a bear?

I've heard that "Why is it always a bear?" question from Lookers.  Never from Buyers...

Why to chainsaw artist carve bears?  Because bears pay the bills!  Bears account for no less than 50% of sales. The mantra is, "carve a bear, carve what I want, carve a bear, carve something artsy, carve a bear, carve a dragon, carve a bear, etc..."  All those bears will sell before that one dragon!  But everything sells eventually.

Recognizing this, I have focused on improving the look of my bear carvings.  This first photo is of a bear I carved earlier this year.  Not bad and quite sell-able  but left a lot of room for improvement.  The following 2 photos are of the exact same carving after I reworked it using some newly learned techniques.  Not a lot of wood had to be removed to achieve a much more realistic, and eye pleasing, product.

The last photo (below) is of another bear carved with these improvements.  In addition, rather than simply burning to darken the fur, color was added after the burn to enhance the over all look.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pets vs My Marketing Plan

The much loved pet is a very important segment of any artist's market yet one which I have all but ignored.  Lately I've been thinking about all of those dog and cat lovers who have browsed my carvings of bears and eagles only to leave empty handed... What have I been thinking?

People love their pets so I should selling carvings of pets!

This week I took one step closer to patching this hole in my marketing boat {plan} by carving my first house cat.  While it was easier than I'd expected, it did not come completely natural since I'm a dog-person.  It's well understood by sculptors that horse-people carve the best horses, fishermen carve the best fish, and so on.

So what if cats don't fly out of my saw?  I should be carving them anyway!  Carving dogs is second nature to me but I haven't been carving enough of them :(  And while I'm yelling at myself,,, how about those WSU Cougars & UW Huskies?  I live between these rival colleges yet have not carved either of their mascots.

Still, no matter what I carve for inventory, 50% of my sales are bears.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eagle Update

It was a big adventure and it's FINALLY complete.  The size of this carving, and the size of the tools required to execute such a project, were hard on my old body.  Muscles ache, joints creak and pop when I move, and I have a couple of new calluses.

Today I will try to take it easy but it's going to be difficult because I can barely wait to start the next carving.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old Tree, New Eagle...

A Sycamore tree in Pasco, WA had grown from a nice shade tree into a menacing giant next to the house and had to be removed this past spring.  Just before the tree was taken down, I went to consult on the possibility of carving the stump.  What a huge piece of wood!  The trunk was nine plus feet around and the first limbs were fifteen feet from the ground...

After discussing design and price, I marked the tree for the arborist and set my appointment to carve the stump in August.

Two days ago I started the job of releasing this huge eagle from his stump.  Using my Stihl ms-660 saw {the second largest saw Stihl currently makes} I removed pieces of wood weighing up to 2, 3, and even 400 pounds each!  The customer said they could feel the house shake when the biggest pieces crashed to the ground.

This photo was taken at the end of my second day of carving.  The beast is so large that when standing on the bench, I cannot see over the top of the wings.  It's an eagle but there are many details to add.  Feet are still quite crude, eyes and body feathers not yet carved, some small details around the beak are still missing, and an eagle next to the river needs a salmon.

Like most big carvings, this one taught me that I need another tool.  The long and wide ripping cuts required for the wings took way too long to complete.  Time to buy some skip tooth chains for the 660.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

There's something about turtles...

I'm not sure what the deal is but, a lot of people like turtles.  And by "turtles" they may mean turtles or tortoises...  So I try to carve both in order to satisfy the most customers.

This first critter is my rendition of the African Sulcata. This large creature is a popular pet which is so well cared for that their carapace {upper shell} becomes distorted from eating too much protein.  No. Those cool pyramids are not the sign of a healthy Sulcata but they do attract a lot of oooohs and aaahs.

The Green Sea Turtle is a species I carve very often.   The simple design is recognized as a generic turtle which attracts many would be buyers.  More buyers, in fact, than the tortoise.  I suppose it's easier to get excited over a turtle which appears to fly through water than over the tortoise who skids about on his stomach.

In the near future, I plan to add other turtle species to my carving repertoire starting with the Leather Back.  Perhaps a snapper or a stylized design will catch people's attention?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Split Mountain Chainsaw Carving Festival

In July I will go to "hob-nob with my fellow wizards" at the 2nd Annual Split Mountain Chainsaw Carving Festival & Art Auction in Vernal, Utah.  This unusual festival gets local merchants to sponsor carvers and there is no competition.  Primary sponsors [paying for a carver] get a custom carved piece from their artist and other sponsors provide lodging, meals, etc...  It's all about the art and the auction.  

The Art Auction is of pieces submitted/donated by carvers to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  Money from each piece is split 50/50 with the artist getting half and the other half being donated to Wounded Warrior. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Bench Project

Finished an unusual project this week :-)

A bench made from a wooden axle and steel wheels was brought to me for repair.  The original seat and back rest were narrow, badly weathered and heavily padded. The seat mounting brackets forced the seat to be more narrow than necessary and there were some other minor problems.

After I disassembled the bench I began modifying the brackets to allow for a wider seat. This required a little grinding and drilling a few holes. After some "paint and powder" the hardware was reassembled.

I selected some 1 1/2" x 20" Sycamore slabs to replace the old seat and back rest.  Some shaping, drawing and carving is all it took to customize the slabs per my customers' request.  Slabs were sealed then mounted and the bench is ready to be picked up.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Touchet Valley Poker Run

Been running behind schedule but I finally finished this eagle for the Touchet Valley Poker Run.  The poker run will start at Dayton Wine Works and Entertainment Patio in Dayton, WA. Registration is from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. Pre-registration is available. This chainsaw-carved American eagle will be awarded for the best hand.  Money raised by this event will be used to build a Children's Playground in Downtown Dayton.

This particular piece is carved from a basswood log.  Basswood is not common here and is a particularly good wood for carving with hand tools.  It should make a very nice prize for someone to take home and display.

Gallery Show Coming!

Sycamore Colt, 32" tall plus base.
Yet another chainsaw wielding sculptor gets a gallery show.  Namely, me!

You & I Framing & Gallery at 214 W 1st Ave., Kennewick, WA will have my art on display for the May Art Walk.  Brooke at You & I is moving the framing part of the business to their back room and opening the current space as an additional gallery.  My sculptures will fill that new space for May and June 2011.

Sculptures scheduled for the gallery include this Colt, and Octopus and several other large pieces including a sculpted bench.  As many as a dozen small pieces designed to hang on the wall will be there as well.

See you during the May, 2011 Kennewick Art Walk!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ugly Stump?

When driving around town, I frequently see large tree stumps in people's yards.  Some appear to be fresh cut and many have obviously been standing in the weather for a long time.

It's a bit of a puzzle...  Why leave a stump standing and not do something with it?  I've stopped and asked a few folks about their tree stump.  Some had hoped to get their stump carved, others are at a loss to explain.  A few explain they removed the tree limbs themselves but their saw wasn't large enough to cut off the stump.

Well, I can help with those unsightly stumps :)  LOL  "For mere money" I can change them into art or just cut them down.   Depending on the tree species, I might be happy to haul the wood away too.

These photos are of the stump of a paulownia tree near Burbank, WA.  The tree had died so the owner had the limbs removed and asked me about carving it.  We discussed various options {prices} and after a month or two, I was asked to start the job.

This design makes use of the 2 upper forked limbs.  Each will become an eagle with wings raised high.  The larger eagle has barely missed catching a large steel-head fish.  The smaller eagle is right behind and diving for the same fish.

When the carving is completed, accents will be burned in and the entire piece will be sealed with marine spar varnish.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Freja and the Bear

After being delayed by wind storms and shiny objects on the ground, I FINALLY finished the big bear.  The log started, and I think ended, as being 6' 3" tall. It's Sycamore which is great for resisting checking {cracking} in our desert air.  I also added a relief kerf in the back to help direct any cracks toward the back and away from his face.

The big fellow is still out back where I can keep an eye on his finish and apply more coats of sealant as he adjusts to the stresses of being a bear rather than a log.

When he goes out front, I plan to price this one at $1,000.  If he's still around in June, I'll display him in front of the You and I Framing art gallery in downtown during the Kennewick Art Walk.  If not, some other big carving will get the honor.

My next couple of projects are stump carvings...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Going BIG

It's been quite a while since I carved a really big bear so it's time...  The Sycamore log in this photo is 6' 3" tall.  Thanks to my Mahindra tractor, the log is standing in my studio area waiting to be carved in the morning.

On this piece I will be working for all the realism I can get from my chainsaw.  Realism is not something I've worked on a lot but is something I hope to improve on.

Pelicans!  A flock of white pelicans few over today while I was preparing the log for carving.  I suppose that sooner or later I will have to carve these bizarre birds.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Getting More Western!

American Cowboy Magazine has named Kennewick, WA as one of the best places for cowboy types to live.  That means I have to get more Western as an artist...  To that end I'm working out some new, to me, designs.

This little kokopelli is a work in progress but I've already learned that bigger will be easier.  There's not much clearance for a saw in the negative space areas of this figure!

 Still sketching coyotes and wolves in preparation for carving them.  A bull might be good :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

'tis the season for carving shows.

This weekend I can be found at the Rattlesnake Ridge Riders Annual Chili Feed in Horn Rapids Park near Benton City.  This one day event draws as many as 400 riders and many support people. I'll be demonstrating chainsaw carving as well as selling carvings under the big blue and white tent.

Carvings available at the Chili Feed will include a full bodied colt, several bears, octopus, various carved faces, dolphins, eagles, turtles and tortoise, scotty dogs, benches, wood peckers and so on.  Lots to choose from...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New cottonwood bark carvings.

I've made a few more pieces from cottonwood bark.  This first one is the second eagle from what started out to be a Native American face.  That piece broke in half so I used the smaller pieces for eagle heads.

When one carved predators, shouldn't the also carve prey?  The hare is a common figure in European woodcarving and is often presented as a stylized figure.  Another coat of varnish and this hare will shine as nicely as the eagle above...

While not yet completed, I have begun carving a tortoise to complement the hare :)

Each are for sale.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My First Octopus!

Cephalopods aren't at all common here in the desert but I carved one just the same.  This octopus is carved from seasoned Sycamore and stands a full 36 inches tall. Shadows were burned in and his angry color comes from a coat of "Australian Timber Oil, Mahogany Flame."

There's a certain amount of stress involved with carving such an unusual creature.  Each time I counted the legs, I wondered if I had lost track or counted one twice.  No one wants a septopus!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cephalopod or dancer?

I've been studying and sketching octopus for a while in preparation of carving my first one.  Today I roughed out the head and eyes then took a photo when it was looking pretty good.  Now that I see that photo enlarged, I see the torso of a human dancer rather than an ascending cephalopod.

Who'd have thunk it?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New For Sale page at

Story Telling Chair / Throne
I've been busy finishing off several half completed carvings.  Most of these are now sitting in my sales yard but a few are awaiting their last coat of varnish.  Still others need a bit more detailing before bringing them out front...

Among those needing to be photographed are the double tree house men, relief eagle in a log, 2 separate king salmon, a triple penguin, and even a snowman wearing a top hat.  There are several cottonwood bark carvings as well...

Many of the items currently for sale are listed on my new For Sale page at:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rudy The Gnome

Chainsaw Carved Gnome
I finally got around to finishing my Rude Gnome {design stolen from Josh Dagg}.  He's about 30" tall, carved in yellow pine and seems to have a little Michael Jackson attitude going on.  "Rudy" is the first of what could be many rude gnomes.

I often drive around with carvings in the back of my truck and am given a thumbs-up by other drivers and their passengers.  However, when I took Rudy for a ride there were no thumbs-up.  Just lots of smiles and giggles :-)

Rudy is for sale in Kennewick and can be yours for $100.

Photo by Tina Baumgartner
Rudy's first road trip was to go slay a big elm tree!  I worked while he guarded the truck.  The elm didn't interest me for carving wood but I did bring home a few large rounds to use for tomahawk or knife throwing targets.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Completed Rustic Bench

Rustic, Cottonwood Bench
This is the first of 3 rustic, cottonwood benches I'm making this week.  It's displayed on scaffold boards so does not come with a base...  The wood is from the same salvaged tree as the bark I collected for carving.

The log rounds for these benches run from 26" - 32" in diameter and the seat slabs are 20" wide x 70" long x 2.5 " thick.  VERY HEAVY STUFF.  Kerf pockets for the slabs are cut in 6" deep to allow for pinning into place.

 All surfaces have been rough sanded and treated with boiled linseed oil.  Benches are priced at $400 as they are or $500 if a marine spar varnish finish is preferred.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thinking Outside The Bark.

Carved Cottonwood Bark with added detail
One of my reference sources for carving cottonwood bark has been videos by Ron Adamson.  If you look at photos of Ron's bark carvings, you will see that certain details often appear outside of the original dimensions of the bark!  I had to try this...

So yesterday I carved Indian face number six and the shape of the bark made it feel vertically unbalanced.  "Fixing" this problem with an add-on seemed like as good a place as any to start thinking outside of the bark.

Working according to one of Ron's videos, I carved a short feather and attached it where it would appear to come from the hair at the back of his head.  The addition is surprisingly steady and I love the look :)

All four of Ron Adamson's videos are available here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Building Rustic Benches

Milling the cottonwood round.
This morning I had every intention of nursing a wrist injury by taking  the day off from carving.  That didn't work out so well for me...

The studio area was cluttered with huge hunks of cottonwood from the bark gathering adventure.  Something had to be done!  When there is big wood to be used, there are benches to be made :)   The wrist can heal tomorrow.

Having had a very good response from the rustic bench I built for Abacus Winery's tasting room in Dayton, WA, I went with that design.  It's simple, quick, renders a very sturdy project and best of all, I get to use my WoodMizer Sawmill :)
Seat pockets carved into rounds.

The first step is to mill a large flat on 2 log rounds for the base of my bench.  Each of these rounds will receive a pocket sawn in using a chainsaw.  Accuracy is necessary to create a bench seat which is both level and at a comfortable height.  When the pockets are complete, the rounds can be set into place ready to accept a slab.

My slab came from the same tree as the rounds.  To get it, I used and Alaskan Sawmill {chainsaw mill} to cut an enormous slab from the cottonwood log {29" x 6" x 5' 11"}.  Once back at the studio, I milled the giant slab into two smaller slabs {20" x 2.5" x 5' 11"} for my bench seats.
Bench assembled and ready for finish work.

Now assembled, the bench is very sturdy even without connecting hardware.   Next session will find me trimming the seat, sanding all surfaces and sealing the wood.

Rustic Benches - $400 each

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wizard Walking Stick

I talked to one of my brothers yesterday and he is in need of a stick to support himself due to a medical problem.  I'll be shipping two, one of which I carved today.  These photos show a little segment of the process.

I start carving any face by defining the hairline and removing wood down to the forehead.  The deeper I make this, the more wood I have for carving facial features.  Next I start creating the brow ridge, tapering the nose and cutting the recess for the eyes.  When I'm happy with the proportions, I remove wood under the nose and define it's length. 

At this point, I start forming the mustache, hair and removing wood from the temples.  This particular stick has been standing in the corner of my garage for 3 years so the wood has become hard and care must be taken to avoid splintering.

As the face comes closer to being finished, greater care is take to make all cuts cleanly and precisely.

The texture of this piece of wood made it difficult to carve the iris of the eye or to even make it's corners round.  I solved this with a ball ended tool in a high speed grinder similar to a dental grinder.  A fortunate side affect was that in carving the recess in the eye, the tool burned the wood making the eye stand out.  I like it :)

I sealed the carved portion of my stick with Deft polyurethane.  A leather thong has been attached thanks to a 1/4" hole drilled through above the carving.  I whittled the bottom inch of the stick to make it fit in a rubber crutch tip and glued the tip on.

Jeff, your stick is on it's way :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bringing Home the Bark!

I put an ad on Craigslist saying "Chainsaw Artist needs free logs for bench project."  A week later a guy sent a message saying he had felled a 150 year old cottonwood tree and offered the logs to me.

From a chainsaw carving point of view, cottonwood isn't desirable AND it stinks when you cut it.  It's not good firewood either because it produces more ash than heat. Naturally I wasn't very interested.

Two days later it dawned on me, "Cottonwood logs have cottonwood bark!"  LOL.  So I phoned Niel, whom I'd gotten my first bark from, and we headed to the pasture with the logs.

As you can see, we found plenty of very good bark.  This stack is the first of two loads we collected :)

Broken Cottonwood

After the un-named white guy carving, I went back to working on Native American faces.  Or at least I planned to.  I selected a small piece of bark and as I started cutting the relief above the hair, the bark broke in half!   Bummer.  My nice piece of carving bark was now 2 tiny pieces.  What to do?  Make lemonade?

As I twisted the busted hunk around, one edge of it looked like feathering to me so I started an eagle.  I had to be careful with the sharp point on his beak but it came out looking like an eagle.

Disaster averted!

I've started to carve cottonwood bark.

Bark Carvings #1 and #2
My hand carving tools had lain idle for a couple of years while I carved logs with chainsaws.  Then I got my hands on a nice piece of cottonwood bark...

Not wanting to ruin my new piece of bark, I reviewed my notes from the class I had taken on Carving the Native American Bust.  Also scanned over Jeff Phares' book on the same topic.  Then the weather got too nasty to carve in my open air studio so  I was forced to get started. My first bark carving was and Indian face with beaded necklace and a hair ornament.

The second 'bust' was just with straight hair and a rather somber look on his face.

It's always bothered me that carvings of American Natives are always sad or angry but never happy.  What's that about any way? I KNOW they laugh, party and enjoy life so I wanted to try a smiling Indian for my next carving.  It just so happens I had a longer piece of bark for this third attempt.

Smiling Indian w/Bear
I've not been successful at carving emotions before so was pleased with at least getting the mouth correct on this piece.  Eyebrows could have been more exaggerated and the cheeks larger but overall, I was pleased.

I was sure that adding the bear would be easy since I'd carved many bears with my chainsaws.  It wasn't really difficult but it was not easy!

The arrowhead and bear tracks were added as space fillers before sealing with thinned linseed oil.  It's now ready to sell. Ebay here I come :-)

Birdhouse Man and Friend
I haven't tried the all too common Gnome Home in cottonwood bark but did make a small Birdhouse Man.  This fellow has a shake shingle roof over his head and crossed mustache.  This design is absolutely easier to carve with a chainsaw than with gouges and knives!

Birdhouse Man's buddy started out to be Abe Lincoln but he ended up with his face too wide for Abe.  I guess he's just an un-named white guy with a mustache-less beard.