The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chainsaw Artist

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I stopped along route 220 in Boones Mill to see if the guy who makes the wooden statues I’ve been driving by for years, would be willing to allow me to tell his story.

Dwayne Hodges said he'd be more than happy to show us how he makes woodland creatures and hillbilly figures using a chainsaw. That's akin to cooking a gourmet dinner on a bunch of hot rocks. Yet Dwayne does this day after day for tourists and gift buyers who are lovers of wooden bears, amazed at the chainsaw craftsmanship or both.

What’s amazing is that ANYONE can do this. Start with a log and end up with a bear.

Clearly there is a system in play here. Cut here, then there, then this way. Notch here, notch there, and pretty soon you’ve roughed out a critter.

I asked Dwayne if he saw himself as an artist. He gave me a qualified, “maybe,” admitting that he’s done so many bears that he doesn’t even think about it anymore.

But then he talks about custom work people ask him to do at their homes. They’ll ask him to turn a stump into something or other. Then there’s the log in front of his shop that will become a totem pole for the Boy Scouts. The Scouts will choose the critters.

Think you could do that with a chainsaw?

Me neither.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sustainable Furniture

You don't often feel your breath taken away by a piece of furniture. But when you catch a glance of the unique pieces at Swede McBroom's shop, The Natural Woodworking Company, in the town of Floyd, you begin to wonder why. What is it about that piece of wood, or the way it's put together than elicits that response.

The answer is both complicated and simple. Complicated because people go to great lengths to choose and harvest the trees that wind up in Swede's wood shop. Simple, because the methods used to bring the trees out of the woods are about as old school as you can get. The trees are pulled out by horses.

As I explained in an earlier story from last summer, the horses are a means to an end. They provide a low impact way to get trees out of the woods without clear cutting, and they leave almost no trace after they've completed their task. Add to that their "worst first" theory about which trees to take, and you begin to understand the character that makes its way into Swede's work.

Those "worst" trees are not the perfect ones that grow straight up. They are a little more scarred. Some woodworkers would shun those so-called imperfections. McBroom and his craftsmen make them the focal points of their custom designs.

The result is that each piece is not only unique -- but produced with sustainability in mind.

If you're into green living, it's the furniture version of a Prius -- only better looking.