|Finished pieces brought for sale|
It was a perfect day on the Oregon Coast, temperatures in the mid-70s and little-to-no wind. It’s also Father’s Day weekend, the time of the Oregon Divisional Chainsaw Sculpting Championship in Reedsport, just 25 miles north of us off Highway 101.
The air is full of the smell of freshly-cut wood and the buzzing of thirty or more chainsaws. Yes, we wear earplugs for this. There's a carnival atmosphere as the folks crowd around each sculptor's booth, vying for good photos. The temporary food stalls with deep-fried or sugar-filled wares beckon.
Professional and semi-professional carvers from all over the world travel to compete, dazzling spectators and judges with their massive, on-the-spot sculptures. This year, carvers came from Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Some traveled from Georgia, Arkansas, and New Mexico, and there also were international participants from Wales, Canada, and Macedonia. This competition is a big deal.
|These carvers are working on their Quick Carve pieces|
|Sara Ruscetta, Seaside, Oregon|
Several women usually participate each year. In fact, for two consecutive years, we watched one woman from New Zealand work her chainsaw magic. Three women, one pro and two semi-pros, from Oregon and Washington are competing for the 2012 championship.
In addition to each carver’s large competition entry, the event calls for a series of “Quick Carves” during which each is given a chunk of wood and expected to create a finished piece in 45 minutes. These pieces are then auctioned off at a later time.
I'm amazed by the detailed work that can be done with only chainsaws and wood-burning tools and sometimes adding paint or stain.
I’ve seen chainsaw art in all parts of the country, but one of the things I enjoy about spending time in the Northwest is the variety on display in public community areas as well as in galleries and carvers’ studios. Instead of whizzing past, when you see those large wooden sculptures along your route, you may want to stop and admire the work, skill, and dedication to this art form. Chainsaw sculptors are a talented bunch.