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Bears pay chain-saw artist's bills

July 17, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Brian Ackley, of Deerfield, N.J., carves a standing bear with a chain saw Friday at the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

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A few yards away from the Washington County Ag Expo & Fair's first amateur cheese carving contest, Brian Ackley was cutting something a little tougher than cheese. Instead of craft knives, his tools were Husqvarna and Stihl chain saws, and his materials were spruce logs, which he turned into a Maryland Terrapin, a bear and a pair of owls in a tree, all within about two hours.

The Deerfield, N.J., man is a third-generation sawyer, but he has been making chain-saw art since the North American Free Trade Act made Canadian wood products cheaper to import than pallet repair boards he once made.

About two years before he began to express his artistic side through Ackmonster's Chainsaw Art, his wife brought home a chain saw-carved bear.

"I can do that," Ackley remembered thinking, though he recalled his first effort as looking more like Bullwinkle without antlers.

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South of the Mason-Dixon Line, people seem to love college mascots, Ackley said. Seconds later, someone asked to buy the terrapin.

Ackley, who will be working the fair all week, said the carvings are the property of the expo. Leslie Hart, secretary of the fair board, said the sculptures will be raffled and auctioned.

People might like mascots, but bears pay the bills, Ackley said.

"If you want to keep gas in your saw and money in your pocket, carve bears," he said.

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