FORT WAYNE – As a crafter, the heaviest piece of equipment Ive used to work my craft is a sewing machine and, even then, it sits on a table while I need only push a lightweight foot pedal to make it go.
For Allen Hetrick and a group of eight other men who will be in town at the end of this month, the tools they use to ply their craft weigh an average of 13 pounds, and they must wield them to see results.
The men are all part of a growing group of artists who use chain saws to sculpt castoff pieces of wood into works of art.
On Sept. 25 and 26, nine men from four states (Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois) will be at the Cedarville Chainsaw Carving Festival at Cedar Creek Produce, 11709 Clay St., Leo-Cedarville.
Allen Hetrick of Leo-Cedarville, with the encouragement of Cedar Creek Produce owner Randy Slentz, started the festival four years ago.
It all began when Slentz saw Hetrick picking up wood from cut down trees, Hetrick said.
He was new to chainsaw carving. Slentz was intrigued and asked him whether hed do it in front of the produce stand. Hetrick agreed, as long as he could bring along more-experienced carvers. And a festival, which is free to attend, was born.
At this years festival, there will be constant chain-saw carving demonstrations, carvings for sale, food, a fall harvest display and other crafters goods.
Hetrick, who uses a wood-burning stove as his homes sole source of heat, took up chain-saw carving four years ago when he was in the market for a new chain saw. While conducting an Internet search, he came across ChainSawSculptors.com (think Ravelry or Crochetville but for chain-saw carvers).
There he found a forum where chain-saw carvers talk about their art and share ideas, tips and photos of their work.
Thats where all us chain-saw nuts hang out, Hetrick said.
It was at that site he learned of a chain-saw event in Charlotte, Mich., which he then attended. He arrived at 8 a.m., while judging was going on, and walked around listening to the judges comments. When the sculptors began arriving, he talked to them and struck up some new friendships.
Eventually, Outback Chainsaw Carving was created. The carving is a hobby that Hetrick, a self-employed painting contractor, hopes will provide some extra spending cash.
All of the wood Hetrick uses is wood that wouldve either gone to a burn pile or landfill. No trees are cut down just for carving purposes, he said. Some local tree services contact him, particularly when they come across catalpa or white pine wood (he prefers to work with soft woods).
While there arent many chain-saw carvers in the Midwest, Hetrick has gathered a group of nine, including himself. And this year, a carver who specializes in American Indian sculptures will be at the Chainsaw Carving Festival.
Hetrick was recently at the Grabill Country Fair, where he created eight to 10 sculptures over three days (carving a total of seven to eight hours total). His hope when he does that is to sell the pieces he makes, so theyre typically priced to go.
Hetrick said he hopes people see the Sept. 25 and 26 event as an opportunity to learn about something with which they may not be familiar.
Any people that burn wood, live out in the country, or want to see different types of art, thats what this events about, he said. I just urge people to come out.