MEET THIS LOCAL: George Kenny describes his chainsaw carving school as a “dude ranch for chainsaw art.” For over 25 years, he’s offered weekend classes from his Allyn, Wash.based shop.
WHAT HE’S DOING: What started out as a gift shop / cafe / ice cream store, transformed into something more when a man with a truckload of wood carvings pulled into George’s parking lot. George’s customers took notice of the merchandise in the truck and went outside to check them out.
The man soon set up a station to sell his carvings and showcase his chainsaw carving skills. George started to pick up the nuances of the artform by helping him with burning, brushing, and doing the grunt work.
Eventually, the man had to move on but George saw an opportunity to use his newly-discovered wood-carving skills to attract people and more business to his store.
After a couple of additional years of self-teaching and a win at a West Coast carving competition in the early 2000s, George gained the confidence to start teaching.
“The first questions I get asked from people contemplating taking they class, they say, ‘Listen, I’ve never handled a piece of power equipment and I can’t draw a straight line,” George said. “I’ll tell them, ‘You’re the perfect candidate.’”
George says his most challenging students are logger and hand carvers because they are too aggressive with the tools.
“They want to just chop the tree down and there is no finesse involved,” he said. “The hand carvers tend to use the tool as if they’re chipping away at a piece of wood like you’re whittling with a pocket knife. I prefer a student that has never used the equipment before.”
FUN FACT: For George, he likes to work on pieces that are more difficult – think a salmon jumping out of water. He likes to use the negative space so it looks as if the sculpture should either fall over or could fly away at any moment. “I try to make it to where it doesn’t look like it’s wood anymore,” he said.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: George offers a three-day carving workshop for $1,499. Each workshop is geared toward small-group instruction with only three or four students in each session. At the end of the session, students take home the chainsaw they used that weekend and the four or five carvings they created.
If you’re ready to try your hand at wood carving and get in touch with your inner wood artist, the car-sharing company ReachNow is ready to help. This summer, they partnered with Xspace Pod to make your wilderness adventure even easier to plan. Check out their packages.