Have you seen sculptures of a bear, an eagle or an angel holding an eagle and dog protruding from the stump of a tree around the region? If so, that’s probably the crafty work of Andrew Mallon, the owner and operator of AM Sculptures, a company that creates sculptures and furniture out of wood.
Mallon started out as a carpenter and said that he had always had an interest in art growing up as the ninth of ten children in Northern Virginia. “With my carpentry background, I had always had interest in the artistic side of it,” Mallon said. “And I always liked creating things. As long as I’m creating something I’m happy.
“So I was looking for a way for [work] to be more personal, like this is 100 percent something that I came up with and made.”
Then, in 2012, when Mallon was just getting into using smaller tools like gouges to carve wood he said that he saw people on television carving wood with a chainsaw and thought “You know, what I could [carve] with a chainsaw.”
“I hadn’t used a chainsaw much, but it’s just another tool, so one day I just decided that I’m going to be a chainsaw carver,” Mallon said. “And from that day forward I’ve thought about it every day.”
Mallon had his doubters, mainly his then-girlfriend/now-wife and his brother. They said that he had to learn how to carve with a chainsaw. So he did. He took a two day course in chainsaw carving in Pennsylvania, bought two saws in the months following that course and was off to the races, moonlighting as a chainsaw carver until late February when he started doing the work full time.
Mallon admitted that although he was a natural at chainsaw carving given his background as a carpenter, it took him a while to get used to using his chainsaws.
“Learning the chainsaw as a tool took some time….Learning how it’s going to jump, how it’s going to react and how to hold it safely was a big learning curve,” Mallon said.
Ironically, one of Mallon’s most challenging jobs was creating a seven foot sculpture of a chainsaw. “It’s an inanimate object, so there’s no variations to it really,” Mallon said. “It’s not like if I don’t like the way something looks or if its cut was a little off or something I could just move the bears’ arm up or down. That chainsaw’s handle had to be right where the handle is.”
He said that he’s learned a lot from going to the Chainsaw Carving Rendezvous in Ridgway, Pa. every year since he started chainsaw carving. It’s a large gathering of chainsaw carvers, many of whom have imparted their trade wisdom to Mallon to use in his practice.
And he’s definitely put that practice to work. He said that he’s done over 100 smaller carvings that aren’t connected to the ground and 30 – 40 stump carvings, sculptures that protrude out of tree stumps still attached to the ground.
“It’s inspiring. Every day I get to wake up and create something out of a piece of wood,” Mallon said. “And I get to create something new. It really pushes my creativity. Why wouldn’t I want to wake up and do that?”