By Gailyn Jackson
The Register-Herald of Beckley
Amigo, WV (AP) – Larry Wrenn has found solace in the buzzing and whirring of his new craft.
Wrenn’s carving history began two years ago when he needed an old tree removed from his yard. Wrenn had seen pictures of wood carvings and thought of no better way to get rid of his own tree.
There was just one problem. Wrenn, 46, a disabled coal miner from Amigo in Raleigh County, wanted a realistic carving, but there were no realistic wood carvers in the state.
Wrenn explains that there are two categories to wood carvings – realistic carving and cartoon carving, which according to Wrenn are “daylight to dark.’’
Although he admired cartoon carvings, he says that style just wasn’t what he was looking for.
Wrenn then took it upon himself to learn how to make realistic chainsaw art so that he could create the masterpiece he wanted.
He had no artistic background – he says he “couldn’t draw worth a lick’’ – but he did have a background with chainsaws.
When he was a child, his family would cut wood, and when he was old enough to use a chainsaw, he couldn’t put it down.
“I would cut wood until I was absolutely exhausted,’’ he says. “I would be on my hands and knees by the end, but I absolutely loved it.’’
Determined, Wrenn began to practice this new art form and two years and multiple discarded carvings later, his hobby turned into a business opportunity.
He was immediately accepted to sell artwork at Tamarack and soon he was being approached by different businesses to do carving demonstrations.
Wrenn’s craftsmanship, attention to detail, and prices – which he says are half the market value – are just a few reasons why people flock to his workshop.
“There is a market for cartoon, but it is not my passion,’’ he says. “Realism is my forte.’’
Wrenn completes all of his carvings at his residence and explains that there is a peace to working at home. “I can take my time and make sure that everything on the carving is perfect.’’
Wrenn mentions that he loves “to see what is under the bark,’’ to study the tree for minutes or even days before the carving process begins.
“To take something that would be discarded and to make something that people can get joy and pleasure from it, that feeling is indescribable,’’ he says.
Wrenn has several different carvings that he keeps multiples of to sell, but he also does custom work.
Prices vary based upon size, detail and time involved, but Wrenn says he has also bartered with his carvings for timber or other services.
Wrenn has completed several large carvings, including a 17-foot-tall eagle.
He currently has several projects in the works, such as a possible carving demonstration in Princeton this September, as well as possible sponsorships from different chainsaw manufacturers.
He says he is surprised by how much his hobby has grown.
“I was just trying to make a carving for myself,’’ he says. “I never dreamed this would grow as much as it has.’’
Wrenn says he finds comfort in his carving, adding he struggled with depression after his accident in the coal mines.
“It is hard when you love the work, but you just can’t do it,’’ he says.
After turning to chainsaw art, Wrenn says he found a peace that he didn’t know he was looking for.
“It takes my mind off of the struggles of being disabled and it allows me to set small goals…,’’ he says. “I can bridge the gap between what I want to do and what I am able to do.’’
Although Wrenn says he continues to struggle with his injuries, he says owning his own business allows him the freedom to work through the pain.
“On the days I don’t feel good, I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to,’’ he says. “But on the days that I feel good, I will be out there carving.’’
Visit Larry Wrenn’s chainsaw carving page on Facebook to see more photos and contact him about making purchases.
Larry Wrenn & his amazing work