The Chainsaw and the Sea Turtle

In our last post, we brought viewers to the world of state fairs. You never know who or what you’ll run into when visiting a fair: a man in a mad-hatter outfit, the world’s smallest pig, and even women wielding chainsaws.

That’s right, folks. Step on up to your local fair and behold the amazing, the spectacular: Chainsaw Chix! Feast your eyes on these unique artists. Women who carve trees into works of art. Their tools of choice? Five or more chainsaws. Be prepared for the noise. The first two rows are guaranteed to leave covered in bits of sawdust. Watch as the bark is stripped away, and take your guess at what the artist is carving, as the creature unfolds before your very eyes.

Chainsaw Chick Sara Winter

Our Chainsaw Chick today is Sara Winter. Before the carving demonstration, she enlightens the crowd with her chainsaws of choice. Some cut away large chunks of wood, others reduce kickback during shaping, and still another allows for fine detail, such as eyes, fur, or feathers. After the chainsaw action, works can be painted or stained to enhance the detail.

bear

Welcome Bear

Sara tells us a brief history of how she became a chainsaw carver, after viewing a demonstration herself. She works from images in mind, rather than marking out a pattern. Sara encircles the large tree stump behind a safety net. Then she slips on protective gear, starts her iPod, and pulls the cord. The first chainsaw rumbles to life and the crowd quiets. She doesn’t hesitate, instead digs right into a large cut off the top. A breeze carries the scent of fresh cut lumber into the crowd.

firstcut

carving

Whispered guesses begin to surface among the crowd. ‘Is it an animal?’ ‘I think it’s going to be a fish.’ ‘Make a giraffe.’ But Sara can’t hear us, and the comments are drowned in the grind and clink of the chain.

carving2

Sara picks up her second chainsaw and moves into some finer detail. We watch as the carving takes shape, and more guesses rise in the crowd.

Chainsaw 2

Right about here, I add my guess: sea turtle. I lean forward, scraps of sawdust clinging to my shirt and hair. My mother, who had joined us for the festivities, thinks it might be a bird. Tim suggests a hamburger, or a U.F.O. Sara makes several more passes and picks up her third chainsaw.

chainsaw4

A chunk of wood catches in the protective net.

The sea turtle emerges as the clear winner! We watch as Sara adds details to the shell and face, sawdust collecting round her feet.

chainsawmore

Approximately forty-five minutes after the presentation begins, the turtle is complete. It sits atop rocks, surrounded by starfish and shells.

chainturtle

chainturtleback

chainturtleside

The speed with which this carving appeared before our eyes, made the use of chainsaws more incredible. The Chainsaw Chix travel for demonstrations and competitions. Be sure to check them out when they’re in your neighborhood and visit their Facebook page. For more information on chainsaw carving, check out the United Chainsaw Carvers Guild.

Nearby attractions: State Fairs, Chocolate Moose, World’s Largest Globe.

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