Talented Butler chainsaw artist will show off skills in annual invitational
Some people are just plain good at math. Others, maybe sports.
What Ken Tynan can do when he picks up a chainsaw, and how little time it took to get to that point, makes him a bona fide natural.
A former billboard painter, Tynan started carving artistic pieces with his chainsaw when he was 40 years old.
“I took one class, a carving class,” says the now 55-year-old. “Then I entered a competition where I carved Santa Claus, and I beat my teacher.”
The Butler native's skills will be on display from May 15 to 17 at the Butler Farmshow Grounds for the third annual Butler Chainsaw Carving Invitational.
Tynan is one of 24 carvers booked for the event. Tynan didn't get the call only because he's nearby — he has 27 carving championships to his name and was featured on the Canadian television series “Saw Dogs.” He makes a living with his chainsaw and says he is booked with work for the next year.
The rest of the field is just as talented.
“These guys go nuts,” Tynan says. “They sharpen their saws like no others.”
The event has a slight twist in that it is not a competition. It's more of a get-together for the group, one that also stokes the artistic fire.
“It's a bunch of us that go through competitions, and we just wanted to do a show,” Tynan says. “We just want to have a good time and learn off each other.”
Some of the faster carvers will slice out up to six pieces in a day. Others take their time to wrap up a masterpiece.
Anyone expecting an abundance of the basics like bears, deer or Indians will have another think coming.
“The one thing that stuck out to me last year was (Austin, Texas-based artist) Griffon Ramsey carved an archeologist that found a genie in a lamp,” says event organizer Damian Skal. “The archeologist was on his knee holding a lamp with a genie popping out.”
Tynan says he hasn't thought about what he will come up with. He says it's hard to visualize beforehand because the size and shape of the wood he gets to work with can dictate where he goes with it.
Pieces created over the three-day event will be auctioned on May 16 and 17.
Tynan, an Army veteran, will auction off a piece to benefit local wounded veterans.
“Anything I can do to help our brothers right here in Western PA,” Tynan says.
In addition to the carvers, there will various food vendors, as well as a bounce house and play area for kids.
Skal said he is expecting 8,000 to 10,000 people to attend.
Ed Phillipps is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.