Chain saw carvers to teach public workshop

PORT ALLEGANY – The sound of a chain saw doing its work is music to the ears of those whose motto is “if it’s wood, it’s good.”

For Rick and Zoe Boni, of Ridgway, the chain saw is the instrument that allows them to create beautiful carvings from wood and teach others the unusual art form. The Bonis will be the featured instructors at a four-day workshop, sponsored by the Potter County Educational Council on May 19-22.

“We hope these workshops will provide those interested in developing or improving their artistic skills with opportunities to do so,” said Bob Veilleux, council executive director.

In order to hold the class, which comes with a $370 entry fee, the council needs to have a certain number of people register. As of Thursday afternoon, two spots remained open. People must register by Monday for the evening workshop, which will be held at the council’s 219 Edison Bates Drive office.

Some 25 years ago, a chain saw carver moved into the area where Rick and his wife, Liz, lived.

“We thought, ‘oh, we could do this,’ ” Liz said. “And we did.”

Sixteen years ago, the couple started the Ridgway Chainsaw Carvers Rendezvous “to find out if there were other people out there” interested in carving with power tools.

With the advent of the Internet and social networking, the rendezvous’ popularity has exploded.

Through it all, Rick, Liz and their daughter, Zoe, continue to practice the art form, “share what we know and teach it,” Liz said.

During this month’s hands-on course, participants will learn carving techniques, how to choose the right wood, the carving process from planning to detail work, and how to finish and care for the finished works of art. Also covered will be the different types of cuts and techniques to add beauty to the carving and the safety procedures necessary to carve with a chain saw.

The Boni family is widely known and respected by the chain saw carving community. Rick has won many carving competitions, been featured on several television networks, does demonstrations around the world through Masters of the Chainsaw and has been a judge at many of the best chain saw carving competitions in the world.

In the past five years, Zoe has won several competitions and been the featured artist on DIY Woodworking. On Thursday, she was headed to Lancaster for an open house by Fox Chapel Publishing. She is featured as an up and coming new chain saw artist in the company’s book “Art of Chainsaw Carving: Volume 2” by Jessie Groeschen.

Both Rick and Zoe also have experience teaching chain saw carving.

Liz now handles much of the behind-the-scenes work.

During the session, chain saws, carving equipment and wood will be provided. Some protective chaps will be available, but students should bring their own if they can.

For more information, call 814-545-1333.

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The chain saw carving class is just one of a number of workshops hosted by the education council. See the website for more details.