The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 22, 2012

Bob Anderson

Rock Creek man creates art out of discarded lumber

ROCK CREEK — Most people use firewood for fuel.

Bob Anderson uses firewood as a canvas for artistic expression — and an income source.

“I look at firewood and see a way to turn it into money,” he said.

A carpenter by trade, for the past two years, Anderson has spent his free time honing his craft as a wood carver.

“It’s just a little hobby, but I’ve found myself doing more of it,” he said, gesturing to a menagerie of fantastical figures frozen in wood.

His tool of choice is the chainsaw and his medium is discarded lumber, pieces often delivered to him by local contractors in exchange for one of his carvings.

The pieces Anderson creates are made to order according to his customer’s specifications; bears, eagles, blue herons, leprechauns, bikers and cowboys all have a spot in his workshop at 2939 Route 45 N. The smaller pieces are suitable for hanging on a wall, and the larger sculptures typically range from between 3 to 6 feet in height.

Anderson says his favorite subjects are “colorful characters,” but customer favorites are undoubtedly sculptures of local wildlife. Anderson creates both.

“I like carving human figures,” he said. “Other carvers say, ‘Just do what you like to do.’”  

The sculptures can serve as a garden or yard centerpiece, or as a way to draw attention to a business or storefront, Anderson said. Each piece is treated with multiple coats of spar urethane to protect it from the weather.

Since every piece of wood he receives is a unique size, shape and grain, it requires a discerning eye to see what shape suits the limitations of the medium.

“You have to see everything in reverse,” Anderson explained, adding that he puts a few pencil sketches on the wood block as reference points before beginning to slice. He said he uses either a sculptural model or a three-dimensional drawing to help him envision the figure which will emerge. While he didn’t formally study art, his years as a carpenter and hand-carving lessons from his father helped him to find his own technique.

Anderson said a 6-foot-tall piece typically takes him 12 hours to complete from start to finish.

“And that’s slow, compared to what some people can do,” he said.

“I first saw someone doing (chainsaw carving) 25 years ago, and I stood there and watched them for three hours,” he said. “I’m sure glad I get to do this now.”

He continues to draw inspiration from chainsaw artists. He recently went to Punxsutawney, Pa. to work with Randy Rupert, an experienced carver who mentors fellow carvers and helps them sell their work.

In February, he went to Ridgeway, Pa. where 280 chainsaw enthusiasts from eight countries display their art during a week-long festival.

“The carving community is so great,” he said. “I’m pretty new, and I am always learning tricks and about finishes. I just try to learn as much as I can,” he said.

To inquire about your own chainsaw carving, call Bob Anderson at 440-563-5037.

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