Making something out of nothingWood carver stumps nature
Warren — When Doug Barnes had four large trees cut down in his yard, he was looking for something unique to do with the 6-foot stumps that remained.
A regular ride to Togus Veterans' Hospital in Augusta gave him an idea — chainsaw carved animals.
A stop into MacKenzie Power Equipment on Route 17 introduced Barnes to chainsaw carving artist Dan Burns.
"I saw some of his work on display out in front of the shop and thought how cool it would be," said Barnes. Within a couple days Burns made the trip to Warren to begin the project of carving three eagles and a bear at Barnes' Medomak Valley Court residence.
Burns has been chainsaw carving for three years, after a long stint of waiting tables and running restaurants.
"I love doing this," said Burns during his work on the project April 2. "I am an artist in Maine and making money at it," he joked, "that's never heard of."
Burns attended the University of Southern Maine and received a degree in fine arts, and is one of only 20 chainsaw carving artists in the state that compete in competitions.
Carving animals from eagles to bears to wolves, Burns said the most difficult thing to carve is a person's actual pet. "They can show me pictures and talk to me about their pets, but the result is my interpretation of what they tell me," said Burns.
"It is so special to see my work in different places," he said, adding "it's permanent so you can't mess up."
The process is simple for Burns — he envisions a piece and goes to work. First carving the outline, then shaping it to size, then adding detail with back and forth chainsaw movement.
When the piece is ready, he then uses a blow torch to seal in the sap and add further detail, then, if needed, it is painted. Each piece is unique. Just what Barnes was looking for.
Burns donates the wood chips he accumulates from his carving to local farms, and sells his scrap wood for kindling. "Nothing goes to waste," he said.
Through his online company burnsbears.com, he has also started up a school fundraiser with Scholastic Books.
Kids can send him an essay on why their school needs books, he picks a winner and chooses a piece of his artwork to auction online. The winning bidder sends Burns a check made out to the winning student's teacher, and the teacher can go through Scholastic Books for supplies.
"Reading is so important," said Burns, who has a 4-year-old daughter Kadie Louise and a 9-year-old step-son Sam.
To learn more about Burns' chainsaw carving, visit his website or Facebook page.
Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
594-4401 ext. 125
Beth rejoined Courier Publications' news staff in February 2013. She previously worked at The Courier-Gazette from 1981 to 1990.
Her coverage area includes Warren, Union, Friendship, Waldoboro, Washington, and Thomaston and RSU40.
Beth has a passion for photography, and a degree from the University of Maine at Augusta, in affiliation with the Maine Photographic Workshop in Rockport.
Aside from photography, Beth enjoys running and walks along the waterfront, as well as other outdoor activities. She has a daughter, Claire, who is 14.