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Artist Creates Wood Sculptures With a Chainsaw

  • Deborah Block

TIMONIUM, Maryland — When you hear the word artist, you usually think of a painter or photographer. Marty Long creates art in an unusual way, though. He uses a chainsaw to carve sculptures out of wood, and this accomplished artist recently demonstrated his craft.

Long shows off his skill, speed carving an owl in just 45 minutes.

“I love chainsaw carving. It’s art. It’s fun. People love it. It makes people smile,” he said.

Long began his career carving ice sculptures, also with a chainsaw. Then he branched out into tree stumps. On this day he is with a group called “Masters of the Chainsaw.” They organize exhibitions and competitions.

Tim Sorrelles and his wife Chris were fascinated.

“To saw a block of wood into pieces of art, it’s just incredible,” said Tim.

“To watch it from the stump to turn into artwork, I didn’t know you could do that with a chainsaw,” she said.

Blades of different sizes, blow torches

To Long it’s second nature. He uses a variety of blades.

“It is like having different paint brushes," said Long. "You start with the big ones and you work your way down and you use the finer ones for details.”

He also uses blow torches and stain to add definition. It's hazardous work.

“Chainsaws are one of the most dangerous tools you can use, and the chainsaw companies will say it’s the most dangerous thing you can do with a chainsaw,” he said.

Wildlife, wood inspire

Long said he's inspired by drawings and photos, and by animals in the wild. He likes the challenge of working with wood.

“In this owl we found a nail, there are knots and fissures and cracks,” he noted.

There's variety in his work.

“I would say eagles, owls and bears are the most popular. What I like to carve is something in motion, something telling a story,” said Long.

Dragon stump joy

Including a six-meter dragon on a tree stump.

“It was for a family that had adopted two Chinese girls. On the bottom we put a symbol for double happiness,” he said.

There's a waiting list for people who want carved stumps on their property. The stumps are priced between $3,000 and $6,000 apiece.

“One of a kind seems to be really attractive to people. The fact that it’s still rooted into the ground. It’s kind of an experience rather than just a piece of art.”

Long is lucky enough to make a living as a chainsaw artist. At the Maryland State Fair, proceeds from sales of his carvings are going to a college scholarship fund.