Tuesday, June 23, 2009



My readers will recall that I stumbled accidently into this town and into the very heart of what would soon be a CREATIVITY VORTEX. I woke amid a hundred giant log sections like these--to be apportioned to an influx of carving artist from around the world--Japan, Australia, England, Germany, Canada and the USA. The action begins in a week---no problem--I'll wait--I am a master at amusing myself.

The big day arrives and I select this nice guy, Steven Higgins (posing here with baby brother) from Northport, Wa.(artbysandoval@yahoo.com) whose first day "quickcarve" I will document for you. Here are the rules: The artist must work alone. He has one hour and fifteen minutes to complete his piece. A loud horn starts and stops the action. The works are gathered into the event tent and auctioned off at 5:30 each day. The artist gets 25%---75% pays for the festival.
(there's more to the story---I'll reveal shortly)

Steven begins! Note he has an array of saws--all super sharp--to work with. He may also use any additional sanders, drills or woodworking tools he chooses. The big saw slices this western cedar like butter. All carvers and almost all festival goers wear earplugs or their equivalent.
First 15 minutes! He needed no picture for reference--measured nothing--just sawed away like a madman. Rarely have I seen such focus.
Second 15 minutes.
Third 15 minutes.
One hour!
Only seconds before the horn sounded.
This was the day's winner--carved by Steven's mentor, Mark Colp of Lakeport, Ca. It sold for $600. Steven's was second at $450. I hope you are as astonished as I am that anyone could do this masterwork in 75 minutes.
This eagle was third at several hundred dollars.
Now for the remainder of the rules: Each carver is given a log section to work on during the remainder of the 4 day festival--His "showpiece". This he or she (There was one lady carver) gets to keep or sell as they choose. Judges select the overall winner and eventually 10 carvers are selected nationwide for the grand carveoff in England---where the really big money is. Steven now 27 has been all over the world doing this. It is his career. Now I will show some of the three day carvings. (more than 25 altogether--this is a sampling of their creativity)
An Indian and a cowboy stalk each other.
Mountain man and friends!
Nude on a bearskin rug
This was my favorite!
Steven's three day piece--Bear in the middle of a waterfall during salmon run.
I think this was the best workmanship.
Just before the auction Sunday, this master carver showed what can be done in only 30 minutes with a block of ice--a lovely swan.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: This is a fascinating and sizable subculture like hundreds of others such as motorcycling, horses, sex, gambling, boating, religion, RVing, etc. Each of us likely participates in several. (would you believe there is a mule group in Tucson, Az)

Finding and participating in a uniquely appropriate subculture is important to my happiness.
Like most humans I tended to DRIFT, sadly downward, into merely "convenient" subcultures where I "made do" and "got by." I trapped myself with groups that were not a good fit ---and thus "lead a life of quiet desperation." I drifted into religion--for 3 years--a bad fit. When I found my own--vagabonds, philosophers and Unitarians--My joy and creativity shot upward. Have you found "your people" yet?
And speaking of CREATIVITY, here's a succinct definition: CONCEPT TRANSFER. ( get it? Creativity is simply mixing ideas---e.g. blend ink, ball and tube and voila you've created the ball point pen. Everyone has a head full of ideas and is hence capable of creating something new) I think creativity is one leg of the three legged stool of fulfillment: 1. Responding to our fascinations. 2. Waking up our creativity. 3. Becoming fascinating. (inspiring someone)


wisesongbird said...

Magnificent artisans! Thanks for bringing Reedsport and these master carvers to us. It is truly amazing that such detail could erupt in only 75 minutes!

Once again, you have peaked my interest and now I must 'search' to follow the England finale. If you have that information, please post!

Your search for your 'self' is still ongoing, I believe, even though you say you have found your 'subculture'. There is more evolvement coming. Promise.

Rob said...

That was a good blog, a whole sect of of artists/carvers, an international sect at that.

My thought was on the 'drift' of our lives. You asked "have you found your people yet"?
For over 20 years I was in an occupation that took more than just 70 or 80 hrs a week, it was my life/lifestyle. I had 'people' that I belonged with & to there. Then I went on to something else.

My life has been a series of these different periods.

These days I am looking again ...

On the other hand I do enjoy learning something new and to learn of an international wood carver art circuit is great!

Jim said...

Not wanting to incite the cenobites and eremites to riot (which doesn't get me any gold stars from the moderators), I was searching through quoteland.com for quotable quotes which I could use to walk that razor's edge between "okay" and "christian baiting." The word "religion" triggers the vehemence of the faithful, so I searched for "faith." I came across this one (now posted on my wall) which I thought you might appreciate:
"For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can't readily accept the God formula, the big answers don't remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command or faith a dictum. I am my own God. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us."
~ Charles Bukowski
Nice pics of the chainsaw carvings; but no spotted owls? I noticed your trailer is single axle and even the smallest RV trailers anymore have TWO axles which, no doubt, add more weight but are supposedly "safer" for those who haven't figured out how to check tire pressure and bearings for heat. I hear that CostCo now fills all their tires with nitrogen; something race car drivers have been doing for years. Nitrogen runs cooler; doesn't heat up and change the PSI like air does. Supposedly the nitrogen molecules are also larger and don't leak down over time like air does. OTOH, if you need to put some air in a nitrogen-filled tire, it's no biggy.

Anonymous said...

Thanks from someone who has always been amazed by chainsaw sculptures, but never had a chance to witness it, in person.

Dixxe's Doodles said...

I just returned from a trip to Fall Creek Falls SP in TN in the area where Im originally from...there are many gorgeous waterfalls so Im very much enjoying the bear under the waterfall piece, it was so hot I wanted to dive under the water!
THIS art is fantastic. Wish I could afford one~
Its very difficult to identify with any group completely. I have an eclectic-eccentric personality so I can aspire to MANY and dont belong to ANY.

Rick Brentlinger said...

Walking the razor edge between okay and Christian baiting...

"I am my own God...

We are here to drink beer..."

Wow, there's a great formula for success in life.

Thanks Jim (and Chuck Bukowski) for my chuckle of the day!

I'm sure Death IS trembling at the though of taking you...

Rob said...

For those of you who'd like see this art up close take a look at http://www.chainsawsculptors.com/event1.htm for some scheduled carving events

{im}perfectly UNIQUE said...

I would just like to say that the final piece you have marked as Steven's competition is actually NOT his piece. I attended that competition to support my older brother, the amazing artist you followed during the quick carve, and I just wanted to give you the link to his actual competition piece:
Steven incorporated three different aspects into his piece that year: a Native American spear fishing, an American eagle, and the bust of a Native American wearing an eagle headdress.

I want to sincerely thank you for the promotion that you are giving such a strenuous career, because it really can take a toll having to travel all over in order to promote your own business.