Carv­ing Out A New Place In The World


FEB, 2018

Woodworking Giveaway

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I think most would agree that art is a form of expres­sion. Some artists use paint and a can­vas. Oth­ers use words and paper, while still oth­ers use clay and a potter’s wheel. And then there are those who wield chain­saws. Yes, it’s true! I saw it unfold before me; a lump of wood became a mush­room under the gnaw­ing bite of a chain­saw. It is a tad uncon­ven­tion­al, I will grant you. But nonethe­less, it is it def­i­nite­ly an art form.

Lum­ber­jack or fire­wood prob­a­bly comes to mind when one hears the word chain­saw. Or maybe even the thought of Hal­loween and the Texas Chain­saw Mas­sacre when we hear one fire up at a rac­ing tem­po. But in the hands of Chuck Williams, unique art will come to mind with the wield­ing of a chain­saw and a 3‑D vision of what a chunk of wood can become.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

While watch­ing Chuck whit­tle away at that lump of dead wood, I saw some­thing come to life. Not only the piece of art he was cre­at­ing but a pas­sion inside of him that began to breathe and func­tion as one. Imag­ine if you will, the wild, long-haired rock gui­tarist rip­ping it up on stage wield­ing his musi­cal ax in a fren­zy of ener­gy and cre­ative flow with his long hair vibrat­ing with sta­t­ic in the sound waves. Now imag­ine the same image only with a chain­saw instead of a gui­tar and you will see Chuck in his cre­ative state. Wood­chips are fly­ing through the air like sparks from a rock concert’s pyrotech­nics. The noise is loud yet with a flow­ing rhythm and the art of it all unfolds before any­one watch­ing the show.

“It just hit me one day. I want to carve a turkey and so I thought I would give it a shot. After the class, I took to it like a fish to water. I can see 3‑D but for some rea­son, I can’t draw”

This wood carv­ing gig start­ed over three years ago for Chuck when he got a notion to carve a turkey. He had a prob­lem though; he didn’t know how to do it. So, he did what most of do these days and Googled it. The results led him to a man in Wash­ing­ton who taught a class on chain­saw carv­ings. After an agree­ment on price, the fam­i­ly head­ed up there for a vaca­tion and a three-day class for Chuck.

Pho­to­graph by CL Har­mon

“It just hit me one day. I want to carve a turkey and so I thought I would give it a shot. After the class, I took to it like a fish to water. I can see 3‑D but for some rea­son, I can’t draw,” Chuck said. Being a tile lay­er for over 30 years, this carv­ing and chain­saw sculpt­ing idea was not some child­hood dream that had whit­tled away at him for years, he explained. He enjoyed his pro­fes­sion and had not giv­en any thought to a career change. How­ev­er, after return­ing from Wash­ing­ton, carv­ing a bear and a few eagles and then tack­ling the turkey, his busi­ness Beyond The Bark Carv­ings was born.
“While I was tak­ing that class, I saw all these mam­moth, beau­ti­ful pieces and I was inspired. This year I went full time and quit doing tile,” Chuck said.

I have used the word whit­tle in this arti­cle because it describes his method­ol­o­gy for cre­at­ing a piece. In fact, many of his carv­ing friends call him “The Whit­tler” because of his cau­tious nature of trim­ming. He quipped that many of his carv­ing friends just go in there and start knock­ing chunks of wood off…and are very good at.
“It’s a process of elim­i­na­tion and once you cut it off, you can’t get it back,” Chuck said. He quipped that he is get­ting quick­er at it though.

He does a vari­ety of pieces, but his favorites are Native Amer­i­can pieces such as busts and feath­ers. He plans to begin a project in the near future where he will carve busts of what he calls the four great chiefs. These com­prise of Sit­ting Bull, Red Cloud, Qua­nah Park­er and Geron­i­mo. Each one will be 18–20 inch­es tall when com­plet­ed.

He recent­ly gained a great deal of recog­ni­tion for his work due to his giv­ing nature and gen­eros­i­ty to those fam­i­lies who recent­ly suf­fered a dev­as­tat­ing loss in the gas explo­sion near Quin­ton, Okla­homa in Jan­u­ary of this year. Chan­nel 6 News spot­light­ed him for his kind­ness in donat­ing the “oil field cross” to the fam­i­lies who lost their loved ones in the explo­sion. The news seg­ment had over 18,000 shares and went world­wide, Chuck said. He has been get­ting orders ever since.

As for the cross­es, the idea came to him after see­ing a mes­sage on Face­book that asked for peo­ple to pray for the fam­i­lies of those men tak­en so trag­i­cal­ly. The mes­sage had the pic­ture of a hard­hat, pipe wrench and pair of boots on the ground as a memo­r­i­al. He thought what a great carv­ing that would make. He decid­ed to make the carv­ing and then donate it to the well site or the town. He used Face­book to help locate the right peo­ple but instead received a sim­ple request for even a bet­ter idea.

Some­one reached out to me and asked if I would do one for one of the fam­i­lies. I thought to myself, I can’t do just one for only one fam­i­ly. So I decid­ed to make one for each of the fam­i­lies and donate all of them.” After the news sto­ry, his ges­ture of good­will went viral and the orders began com­ing in left and right, he said.

One of the most intrigu­ing parts of Chuck’s work is not the actu­al art­work that he cre­ates, but the atti­tude in which he employs for his enter­prise. He believes in the best out­come as opposed to the best income. By this I mean, he cares about oth­er aspects besides just the dol­lar amount bot­tom line. For instance, he doesn’t believe in chop­ping down a beau­ti­ful healthy tree because he can use it as a means to make mon­ey. Instead, he only works with trees that have been dam­aged and uproot­ed by high winds or have fall­en by oth­er means which occur nat­u­ral­ly. The oil field cross­es, for exam­ple, are all being carved from the downed sycamore trees that fell as a result of the tor­na­do that blew through mid-town this past August.
An inter­est­ing note about Chuck is that he is not one of those artists who see the art in the raw mate­r­i­al that needs to be set free by chip­ping or chis­el­ing away at it. Instead, he sees the art inside him­self and the raw mate­r­i­al as the can­vas in which to cre­ate it. He is by far a tal­ent­ed artist with the abil­i­ty to carve out a unique place in the world of art…and of course in any tree that might fall when he is in a‑rockin’ cre­ative fren­zy.


To inquire about Beyond The Bark Carv­ing art pieces or to get more infor­ma­tion about live demos, call Chuck at 918–261-8453.

1 Comment

  1. I was so touched by the fact that he made all those cross­es and donat­ed them. What a beau­ti­ful heart!


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