Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chainsaw Carving

For the last day of our bank holiday trip up to the Midlands (Sunday, August 26th) we went to the Tatton Park Country Show, specifically to see the chainsaw carving. We were definitely the odd couple out in not having a dog with us. I hope next time we will.

The chainsaw carving section was big, with each of the 25 carvers having their own fenced-off section to do their long-term pieces. The long-term competitions were: the "Combo Competition" which uses log diameters up to 2ft in two categories, chainsaw-only eight-hour carve or full-power thirteen-hour carve. I wish I knew more to explain exactly what that means. The other long-term competition is the "Classic Competition" which uses log diameteres up to 4ft and takes 21 hours (presumably these pieces are worked on for all three days of the country show). Here is a wide shot and a close up of one of the fenced-off areas and the detailed, beautiful sculptures they were making:

And here are two little clips of carvers at work in thier fenced-off areas. Some day, I'll have a time-lapse camera to show the whole transformation, because just one cut doesn't really do it justice. I can't remember who the first carver is, but the second is the Japanese competitor, Toshiyuki Nagai.

The carvers also had finished pieces on display that were to be auctioned later on in the day. I would have wanted to buy either of these (or the owl above), depending on how expensive they were, but don't have the space to display them in. Boo. Unfortunately, they didn't label who produced which of these pieces, so I can't link or give credit where credit is clearly due...

The event we came to see was the "Speed Carving" which is perfect for spectators. It's one big fenced-off area for all the participants. The carvers have 30 minutes to carve whatever they want, and then it gets auctioned at the end to those who watched it being created.

I have video of the beginning of the speed carving and it's such a shame that my camera doesn't do audio. The noise of them "starting their engines" was glorious. We saw two old ladies on the other side of the fence watching with their fingers plugged into thier ears. We all got covered in sawdust.

There was one American carver who carved his bear in fifteen minutes flat and had time left to go over to help another American who was carving an owl. But all the bear-carver was doing was carving a slot into the bottom end of the owl-carver's sturdy tree trunk. At first I thought he was turning it into a post box, but then we saw him slicing off two long, rectangular sheets of wood from one of the gigantic tree trunks that were laying about. When he started sizing up the rectangles against the slot he was carving out, we realized that the two carvers were working together to create a bench. One pole was a bear, one pole was an owl, and the rectangles were the bottom and back to the bench. In typical American fashion, they carved and burned "Have a nice day" into the back of the chair. Brilliant. Here's a clip of the two of them just as they are starting out...

And here's a pic of the finished product. Just enough room for two!

The speed carving yeilded at least three owls (one carved by the only female carver), three bears, and three horses (one of them like a knight chess piece three foot tall). The carver were picking the collectable themes. There were also more unique pieces like a guitar (done by an American) and a skull (smooth and accurate, almost like it was made of plastecine).

I loved the chainsaw carving demonstration, and though the announcer was quick to say "don't try this at home" I don't think I can resist. For those of you who know how klutzy I am, my husband has promised to supervise. Woohoo! This will depend on us having an actual backyard and, of course, owning a chainsaw...

1 comment:

yamster said...

Wow! Very impressive! Now I wonder what led these folks to say to themselves, "Hm, I'm bored, maybe I should grab a chainsaw and do some carving"?