Chainsaw sculptor Darren Jones sums up the toughest challenge as “cutting deeper.”
“I know that seems simple,” said Jones, who runs Mr. and Mrs. CabStudio Art and Design out of Rimbey.
“But it’s really dedicating yourself to your cut,” he said. “Because you don’t see where your saw goes. A lot of this is pre-thought.”
Another challenge is “knowing when it’s done,” he said with a laugh.
Jones was given a chainsaw by his family 20 years ago for bucking wood. But it wasn’t long before he saw the tool’s artistic potential.
Since then, he has made numerous carvings to order and gathered more than a few accolades.
Estevan, Sask. gave him the key to the city last year for fashioning a memorial to veterans out of a local century-old tree. He even got official mention in the House of Commons.
“They’re going to send me a certificate saying so,” he said.
To make it he listened to stories from veterans and their families and a woman who lived in Holland during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War.
“It was just incredibly emotional the whole time,” he said. “It came out beautifully. It’s very respectful.”
Other works have included a memorial to 31 miners who died in a 1910 explosion at a Crowsnest Pass mine and numerous commissions around Alberta.
Recently, he was hired to turn a dead tree into a wizard in Lacombe’s PoPow Kinsmen Park.
“It was Manitoba maple,” a wood that cuts beautifully, he said. “Everything worked out perfectly. It took three days and I beat the weather.”
In his workshop, a couple riding a full-size 1947 Indian motorcycle with sidecar is taking shape out of four cedar logs laminated together.
“As time goes on the skill with the chainsaw has gotten so much better and it’s so much easier,” he said.
He loves the challenge of transforming clients’ ideas into wooden visions. He charges about $200 a foot on average, he said.
His artistic inspiration had been channelled into air brush paintings before he started carving. He has been able to use those painting skills to bring colour to some of his sculptures.
Painting and sculpture are kind of the opposing forces of art.
“Carving is subtraction, and painting is addition.”
A directional driller by occupation (he is heading to do some work in Turkey soon), Jones hopes to split his year half and half between chainsaw sculpting and drilling.