About Mark

Birthday: April 20

Hometown: Lakeport, CA

Professional Carver Since: 1998 (Carving since 1981)

Non-carving Hobbies: Fishing, hunting, family

Oddest Job Ever: Carving a Hobbit character at a Hobbit park in California

Favorite Saw: ECHO CS-600

How long have you been a professional carver?
29 years. I’ve never been paid to do anything other than carve.
What do you consider your best work?
At a competition in Sedro-Wolley, WA in 2012, I won first place and peoples’ choice. The sculptures were like a totem, with an Indian bust, eagle, bear, and salmon all in one. It’s one of my favorites.
What have you learned from carving?
Being a carver I have learned how to make precision cuts - how to block out a sculpture so it takes less time to finish.
What's the strangest situation you've ever been in while carving?
On the show, “Saw Dog”, I let a group of nuns use my saw to carve on a piece with me.  We had a great time.
What's the most unexpected question you have ever been asked?
"What do you do to  make a living?"  My answer:  "This is it."
Have you ever changed your mind about what you were going to carve after you had started the carving? Explain ...
Sometimes I change my mind on a sculpture because the wood has a flaw or rot in it.
How do you prepare for a competition?
I prepare for a competition by drawing it out, finding ideas from photos to put together, studying what I’m going to carve, or sometimes it just comes to me right before I start.
What was the worst thing that happened to you during a competition?
Rain. This happened when I was carving at the Westport competition. They had to shut it down for a delay and the pressure on you gets worse. The competition becomes slower and is more frustrating.
Do you miss having a "regular" job?
No, I love my job.  I am an entertainer and an artist, and people love to watch me wherever I go.
How do you decide what to carve?
In competition I decide what to carve according to theme, time, judging criteria, and the size of the wood.
Have you ever had to scrap a piece and start over?
Never in a competition, but I did for a custom piece that I did for a client I have.  There was a flaw in the wood that I could not see until I cut into it.
Do you prefer competing or commission carving?
I prefer competitions over commission, because commissions are what others want or need. When I’m competing, I’m carving what I feel I need to say in my art.
What's the longest you've carved without stopping?
In a quick carve competition that is going for two hours or more, I don’t stop until the time is up.  It’s common for me to carve for 8 or 9 hours a day at events, with breaks.
Do you listen to anything when you carve?
I do wear ear protection, but can still hear the sound of my saw.  That is all I listen to.  In my mind I stay focused on my sculpture.
Do any of your kids want to carve?
My daughter at the age of 14 learned to carve a little, and then chose a different road.
Do you carve anything other than wood?
Not for years, but early in my carving career I carved some soap stone.
Do you ever carve just for fun, or do you consider it a job?
I carve things for fun from time to time; it’s not just a job.  Most sculptures I do are fun for me.  I love my job, so it’s fun most of the time.
What's the largest piece you've carved? The smallest?
The tallest piece I’ve carved is a 26 foot totem pole, on a pine tree, still standing in the ground.  The smallest carving is a 1 ¾” sitting bear.
What's your favorite ECHO chain saw?
CS-600. It has great power and torque. When you’re carving you stop and start all the time, this saw can stop and start while you’re in a cut.  I can't wait to get the new CS-590!
What do you like about ECHO chain saws?
Everything! They’re light and their longevity is key. You get used to a certain saw and the longer it lasts the better it is because you are used to the way it feels and handles.
What has it been like to be a member of the ECHO Carving Team?
It’s very rewarding. I’ve come by many opportunities being sponsored by ECHO. You feel like you’re a part of something and going places, and you feel like you’re really accomplishing something. Plus, I get to work with great people. I like my teammates – we’re always joking around even though we’re serious when we are competing. We can count on each other when we need something, and the ECHO folks are always great to work with, as well as the folks working the venues we carve at.
What saw would you recommend to someone just starting out in chain saw carving?
CS-400 - It’s a saw a beginner can do a lot with – it’s just the right size – not too big, not too small.