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Chain-saw carvers create buzz at fest

October 19, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

SHADY GROVE, Pa. - The Shady Grove Ruritan Club's first Fall Fest brought a new art form to the area Saturday.

All day, three professional chain-saw carvers created intricate sculptures, which were auctioned off for the benefit of the club's local projects. Using no other tools than a chain saw, the men coaxed intricately-detailed bears, eagles and Indians out of large chunks of wood.

Michael Blaine of Winchester, N.H., said he has been drawing and carving since childhood and began chain-saw carving after high school "because I like big. And there's no reason to spend all day chipping wood that you can remove in five minutes with a chain saw."

Creating chain-saw art full time since 1989, Blaine works on-site for clients as well as at fairs and festivals.

The overall winner of the X-treme Power Carving contest for three out of the last four years, Blaine said he has projects from Florida to Canada.

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"Ain't too many states I don't have something in," Blaine said.

He said he enjoys working with cherry wood, as he was Saturday, because it "holds nice detail."

Mark Tyoe of Salisbury, N.Y., has been chain-saw carving full-time for nine years. By noon, he had created two sculptures out of white pine: a small bear on a rock and a welcome bear.

Tyoe said he "just started carving one day," and after three months, he had a full-time business.

Working in the same fenced enclosure as Tyoe was Rick Boni of Ridgway, in the Allegheny National Forest area of northern Pennsylvania. Boni said he and his twin brother "saw some guys chain-sawing, and we went in our backyard and tried it." They worked at developing their own style and subject matter, and both now work at their art full time.

Boni said he attended art school in Pittsburgh, made pottery for five years and was a contractor for another five. Then, he said he "got his cataracts fixed and decided I had time in my life for art."

A sculpture of a baby bear sitting under a bee hive that Boni carved Saturday brought $300 at the auction.

Although he is a trained artist, Boni said he no longer makes a drawing before starting a sculpture.

"I can see it in there," he said.

Boni and his wife, Liz, host the biggest chain-saw carving festival in the world during the last weekend of February each year in Ridgway.

"We had 150 carvers from eight countries and 28 states last year," he said. "We raised $45,000 for Make-A-Wish and the local YMCA."

The highest selling sculpture was Mike Blaine's feathered eagle, purchased for $550 by Greencastle, Pa., veterinarian Jerome K. Harness.

About 150 people attended the auction, Ruritan president Bill Berger said.

The 12 pieces auctioned raised about $4,000 for the club's projects.

Matt Hurley of Matthew S. Hurley Auction Co. Inc. of Greencastle served as auctioneer.

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