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Sculptors made a memorable return

Bruce ThorFINN ROCK: The fifteen artists at this year’s 3rd Annual Chainsaw Art Festival once again enthraled onlookers who watched them transform logs into works of art. For some running the saws, the end result may come from within the wood itself. Others, like Bruce Thor of Kent, Washington, approach each piece with an image already in their minds.

“Because I’m a cartoonist, I get ideas and have to have a piece of paper around at all times,” he explains. “I’m compulsively doodling over the winter.”

For Thor, a “third generation Icelandic American,” the attraction for refashioning logs goes back to 1996 when his mother cut down a tree in their front yard. In the process of making, “the worst bear I’ve ever done,”  he burned out her electric saw. But it was a step in a process that nudged him to attend his first gathering of carvers in the coastal town of Westport in 2000.

The other carvers welcomed him, and “I felt I was home,” he says. Over the next few years he covered, “all of Kent and the area around - wherever I could get on a bus.” Traveling with a saw meant covering it up to avoid any Chainsaw Massacre vibes.

“It’s a fallacy that chainsaws are used as violent weapons,” he laughs. “For one thing, you’re not going to sneak up on anybody. It could do some damage but as soon as it hits cloth it binds up.”

Nowadays, though, he’s a regular on the professional carvers tour - ranging from shows in the Pacific Northwest, America’s eastern states and the South, as well as Scotland and England.”

 Tools of his trade include powers saws and different bars ranging from 48 to 8 inches in length. He also uses grinders, chisels, paint and a big torch to burn darkened features.

“I told my Mom how strange - my life became about my three favorite things: sharp objects, fire and travel,” Thor noted. “It’s an unexpected good life. I couldn’t ask for a better one.”

Image above: Bruce Thor fashioned a whimsical bench featuring a frog with a banjo on the left offset with a dragonfly in a wetland to the right. Other carvers, below, chose subjects ranging from a fierce velociraptor to a much more benign Sasquatch rendering.


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