Tonawanda News

July 19, 2013

The roar of art

Staff report
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Before you see Sara Winter creating her artwork ... you hear it. And you smell it.

The roar of a chainsaw. The scent of sawdust.

Working Wednesday on the lawn of Tonawanda’s Long Homestead, Winter used chainsaws to chip and carve away chunks and shreds of wood from a section of log. Slowly, it took shape ... a muzzle. Two cupped ears. Two chubby paws, and a pair of quizzical eyebrows. 

When she finished, a somewhat-grumpy-looking bear peered from the log, looking as if he’d entered in search of honey and just couldn’t get back out. A little burning with a blowtorch for color, two beady black eyes, and the sculpture was done.

The entire process took only about 30 minutes.

While the Masters of the Chainsaw have been a nearly annual event at Canal Fest, for Winter, a resident of the Adirondacks, this is her first appearance. A member of the Chainsaw Chix carving group, she’s been carving for about six years and part of the group for about five.

“I saw someone doing it at a fair,” she said of chainsaw carving. “I was intrigued; I’d never seen it before, and I figured I’d give it a shot.”

Winter had no artistic background at the time, but with practice, picked up the knack, and now carves full time.

“I personally had a lot of trial and error, a lot of trying to understand the chainsaw,” she said. “When you hold it differently, turning it produces a different cut. That was a challenge.”

In addition to the newly carved bear, other sculptures were on display  at the carving space at the Long Homestead, 24 E. Niagara St., including an owl, sea turtle (riding a wave), dog, wolf, cardinal and even a carved bottle of wine and wine glass. That’s another challenge, Winter said -- trying to figure out what any given log should become.

“Seeing what shape is in the wood, and reading the grain of the wood ... those are hard, but completely rewarding,” she said, adding that it’s a field where you never stop learning. “It keeps pushing you. That’s what I really love about this.”

Today, Winter and her fellow Chainsaw Chix travel all around the world, to art shows and fair and festivals. Recently, she said, she was able to travel to Australia on a carving trip.

“I don’t know what it is with chainsaws and me, but we really click,” she said. “It’s been quite the adventure.”

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Chainsaw art demonstrations • WHEN: 5:30, 6:30 and 8 p.m. today; 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Long Homestead lawn, 24 E. Niagara St., Tonawanda • FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit