Sculpting with power
Chainsaw artist creates pumpkins, bears, eagles and more
If you have driven down U.S. Highway169 south of Fort Dodge, you may have noticed some peculiar chainsaw activity.
It’s not just your typical trimming of trees, however, but sculptures of bears, pumpkins, eagles and more are being created.
Lynn Anderson, of Fort Dodge, has been practicing the art of chainsaw carving for close to 15 years.
With the assistance of Connie Jondle bringing his pieces to life with paint, Anderson has the unique ability to create just about anything with a piece of wood and a chainsaw.
When he is not at work as manager of the Sioux City Grain Inspection office in Fort Dodge, you may spot him outside carving at nights and weekends when the weather allows, on the spot most commonly known as Stiths Nursery, south of Fort Dodge, or he can be seen at fairs or other events.
“In my spare time I do a lot of chainsaw carving, I have fun doing it,” he said. “It gets where it is kind of addicting. You want to get off work and get sawing.”
In a typical year, Anderson said he will attend nearly 15 fairs or special events – entertaining visitors with his chainsaw carving talents.
Anderson said he missed the opportunity this year, due to the cancellation of several events.
“I missed seeing the people. Getting out there and visiting with them,” he said. “The same people usually come back to see me year after year to watch the carving.”
Where it all started
Anderson said he used to create lath-art; which are pictures using wooden laths as well as other craft items.
He also enjoys hand carving from wood and other items.
He still utilizes his craft of hand carving sometimes with Styrofoam, on down times, coming up with ideas and designing models to create with the chainsaw later.
It was one day, after watching a chainsaw artist create art, Anderson decided to give it a try.
“I had seen A.J. Lutter carve at the Webster County Fair,” he said. “I just picked a chainsaw up and carved a bear one day. I sold it right away. I thought it was fun and it just went from there.”
Anderson said although he picked up on the chainsaw carving right away, he has definitely evolved from that first bear carving.
“I don’t know if I am a natural or not, the more you do something, the better you get at anything,” he said. “That first bear wasn’t as good as the bears I make now. It just keeps progressing and progressing.”
Anderson credits A.J. Lutter and several other chainsaw artists for getting him started.
“Talking to him, watching him – he has been an inspiration to me,” he said. “It’s been a fun time over the years. I have met a lot of good chainsaw artists from all over the country and Iowa. It’s been a blessing for me to meet those guys. Get their ideas, talk to them. There’s probably 15 carvers in Iowa that I know real well that are phenomenal carvers.”
Sometimes, Anderson said carvers will challenge one another.
“I was carving with my buddy, Travis Kimball – I think he’s one of the greatest carvers around. After we are done carving, we will find a piece of scrap wood and we challenge each other to carve something out of it,” said Anderson.
What did Anderson carve that day? A comical bear diving into water. After some paint, he now wears a pair of swimming trunks.
The possibilities are endless
Anderson said he can make just about anything and welcomes special orders.
Oftentimes he will look at a piece of wood for inspiration.
“Some stuff you can just see in the wood. When you start to carve it, the branches you can get an arm or a neck. You can just look at the wood and see it,” he said.
Whether it is a bear, a bird, ears of corn, pumpkins or an apple basket, Anderson said he works to give the piece dimension and if it is an animal – movement.
“When I carve, I try to give the animal some movement,” he said. “I turn the heads on bears, for example. If you don’t give them that movement, it isn’t very good.”
Some of Anderson’s preferred wood to carve from includes white pine, tepalca wood, red cedar and walnut.
Lately, some of his favorite things to carve have been smaller items out of white cedar posts.
“I really like the smaller carvings. I can do five different things in one evening, instead of a big piece that takes all day or more,” he said.
When it comes to making his masterpieces, Anderson has a few specialty items, but for the majority of his work, uses run-of-the-mill chainsaws right from the store shelf.
“A lot of carvers use fancy stuff, but I’m pretty tight and don’t buy it,” he said.
One of his newest purchases are some battery operated chainsaws that will allow him to work throughout the winter.
Although Anderson said he has been sculpting with a chainsaw for several years, he doesn’t seem to tire from it and will still amaze himself with his creations.
“I don’t spend much time in front of the TV. I use my time to try to make something, to be creative. It’s a big stress reliever for me,” he said. “I just want to make the next thing. Sometimes I can’t believe I made that. There are some pieces I don’t want to get rid of.”
But he will…and will just make himself another piece.
Anderson encourages passersby to stop and visit him or they can give him a call at 515-227-3061.