Birthday: September 22
Hometown: Edgewood, WA
Professional Carver Since: 1998
Non-carving Hobbies: Swimming, other water sports, yard sales
Oddest Job Ever: Working on a crew for the state of Oregon picking up road-kill
Favorite Saw: ECHO CS-600P
How long have you been a professional carver?
I taught myself to carve with a chain saw in 1998. Two years later I decided to work at it as a full time job. A huge leap of faith!
What do you consider your best work?
There's probably two answers here. My favorite would have to be a life-sized King Otto atop a warhorse done in Germany with two other American carvers. But the one that I probably was most stoked about was at a competition in Horsens, Denmark where I carved a Viking warrior holding the head of his opponent. I felt I was able to capture the look of victory the Viking was feeling. He was holding the Viking's head by his hair which was fastened with a dowel. The wind was blowing strongly and it was quite a sight to see the head moving slightly back and forth.
Do you miss having a "regular" job?
Insurance and retirement plans are something quite attractive with having a 9 to 5 job. Knowing that your family is counting on you to make all the right decisions as breadwinner is a bit scary, but I have never regretted making the decision to work for myself.
What do you consider your best work?
Cindy and I are sometimes at odds on this one. For me it's the Viking warrior holding the severed head of his enemy carved at Horsens, Denmark. Cindy prefers my sculpture "Saved by Grace" depicting a man being lifted up by the hand of God with an Angel guiding him. You decide...
What have you learned from carving?
Art can tell a story and connect with so many people.
Do you prefer competing or commission carving?
There is less stress involved in commissioned sculptures so I'd go with them.
How do you prepare for a competition?
Equipment - gather every tool known to mankind. Now get one more of each! Okay seriously, at a minimum I just need an array of quality saws. If the competition allows other tools, I don't like to be without a die grinder, right angle grinder, a torch and a drill. As for the composition - how large are the logs? What can I fit into them? And I have to develop an idea that fits within the theme and make sure the idea is exciting. Last, how much time do I have to do this and what is the criteria the judges will be following.
What was the worst thing that happened to you during a competition?
A huge misjudgment on my part and I over-cut into the face of a little boy giving him what appeared to be a terribly disfigured mouth and jaw... With the help of my wife Cindy and some prayer and creativity, I re-carved his whole head. It won the competition! Amazing...
Have you ever changed your mind about what you were going to carve after you had started the carving? Explain ...
Yes, wood being an organic medium can have imperfections show up in the middle of the log and usually in a most undesirable location. I've learned to creatively adapt my composition as well as leaving options for the final outcome of the work for just such situations.
How do you decide what to carve?
Typically most of my work is on commission - the customers tell me what they want. Otherwise it's what I feel like making (that will sell of course). As far as for competitions, there are several things I look at such as theme. If there is no theme, I try to do something that I have either always wanted to do or I think about a moment in life that I would like to capture. I have carved a couple sculptures from my children's lives: All Dogs Go to Heaven and Tiffany's Dream. They both have great stories behind them.
Have you ever had to scrap a piece and start over?
Yes, once, and it was a pesky little alien for Disney/Pixar's Toy Story. Burton Snowboards commissioned me to do the work for a Riglet "learn to ride" park in Jay Peak, VT. Anyway, he didn't have the correct scale to the rest of the group so he became the "falien."
What's the strangest situation you've ever been in while carving?
Standing in an awkward silence of disbelief after being asked to carve a life-sized Klansman by a little (and nervous) old man. That sculpture did not happen of course.
What's the most unexpected question you have ever been asked?
Are you married ..... hah! People are fun. But the most common unexpected question is asked after they've gotten my attention and I shut off the saw, put it down, and they ask, "Did you carve that with a chain saw?" Hahaha - that's just funny!
What's the longest you've carved without stopping?
I've put in a few 9 hour days but usually the saw runs out of fuel by then heh heh ...
Do you listen to anything when you carve?
Yes! The voices in my head ... Ok, just kidding, they don't have that much control over me. Actually I like to listen to love songs. Real manly huh? Can't help it, it just puts me in the zone.
Do any of your kids want to carve?
I have three awesome kids. The youngest is now 24. Two of them were taught to carve, but it wasn't their passion. So now they make more money than me!
Do you carve anything other than wood?
Yes, ice. It's similar, beautiful and quite popular. A pretty exciting medium to work with too. It melts though and I prefer to have something tangible at the end of the day. I also like to sculpt with clay. I have quite a few sculptures in the office, but I have not taken the leap to getting them bronzed.
Do you ever carve just for fun, or do you consider it a job?
Once in a while when I think no one's watching, I carve for fun. Most of the time I am having fun. Only when I have to do repetitive pieces does it feel like work.
What's the largest piece you've carved? The smallest?
Largest: a 20 foot long replica of a baseball bat with matching scale baseball for one of Burton's Riglet snowboard parks near Pittsburgh, PA.
Smallest: a butterfly.
What's your favorite ECHO chain saw?
Quite often I have a running saw in my hands for 5-6 hours a day. I'd like to think I know a good saw. For me, the CS-600P is sensational. From light work to heavy cutting, it pulls strong and doesn't wear out. Reliable, well-balanced, and a breeze to care for. My kind of saw.
What do you like about ECHO chain saws?
I'm a consumer. I want the best bang for my buck. ECHO saws do just that. Professional grade saws, best warranty, fuel efficient and I work them to death but they keep running. I have some of the ugliest ECHO's out there. They won't die. I use them, abuse them and tomorrow they will start again.
What saw would you recommend to someone just starting out in chain saw carving?
CS-310 for sure. ECHO's latest technology in a nice compact, pro saw. Use it with the stock bar or convert to a carving bar/chain combo, either way it's extremely versatile and has good manners and usability.