Moberly Lake chainsaw artist competes for the first time

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo


CHETWYND – Amongst the professionals at this year’s Chetwynd International Chainsaw Carving Championship, Moberly Lake resident and local carver Randy Gauthier was busy sanding, filing, drilling and learning the trade under the watchful eye of Japan’s Hiromu Kurita.

A self-described “bush guy”, Gauthier says it’s all about the will to learn and the determination to keep working towards the vision he has of turning his new found hobby into a business with his son.

“I think family is great to work with and I have never really had that opportunity. I want to be my son’s best friend, I don’t want to do wrong as a father and I think maybe I have in the past. I think we all make mistakes, but it’s just a matter of learning, educating yourself on that.”

He spoke to the Chetwynd Echo on his birthday this past week, from his property just off the Provincial Park Road in Moberly Lake.

“I am just a saw man,” he says. “I have been felling trees for over 20 years, generally falling dangerous trees. I went on to being a felling supervisor for the last three to four years. I was always a freelance kind of guy.”

It was in February of this year, when Gauthier traded in his felling saw for a much smaller, much more nimble carving saw.

While local orders keep him going for money and practice, Gauthier is excited at the chance to gain some knowledge and experience when he travels to his first carving competition next month in Mackenzie River, Oregon.

This will be his chance to learn by doing, he feels, and to hear some constructive criticism from his peers.

“What I really appreciate is criticism, what I am doing wrong. A person can see that, I can’t, that’s what I like. I think that’s great. Different perspectives, like a different mentality altogether. So, I have got to really nail this first competition. I have committed myself and if I stop then I have kind of given up on myself, and I am not going to do that.”

Since he started last winter, Gauthier believes he has improved but still has a long way to go.

“I am trying to do a six-day schedule, eight to ten hour days. I have got to discipline myself a little bit more but it’s coming. It really is. The money will come.”

He grabs a hold of a smaller eagle that he has been working on, and remarks about how he wasn’t very happy with the way the detail had turned out.

“I can’t get the proportions right. I have just got to apply myself,” he says “and even if I get $100 for this, I will be happy with it because I am still in the learning process.”

A sculpture he completed earlier this year, a bench flanked by two eagle heads, is on display in front of the Home Hardware on 51st St.

It’s not perfect either, he admits. It has some flaws that will probably reduce the price. But it’s all part of the learning process.

“When I helped Hiromu Kurita, I soaked in a lot but I never got much of a chance to actually stop, watch him carve and see how he adds character.”

“It’s all [about] putting your hours in,” he says.

“We all have to pay for our education. Because I am self-taught, it costs a lot at the beginning. I blew a saw here last week and a couple of grinders, probably about $1,500 of stuff. I am basically paying for my education so I am OK with that as long as I am learning and moving forward.”

He certainly is keeping busy. After the drive to Oregon in August, Gauthier has arranged to work with some carvers he wouldn’t name on the sunshine coast.

He will then head back up north, past Chetwynd, to Seldovia, Alaska where he will take part in his second competition Labour Day weekend. Picking up jobs where he can along the way.

“It’s all about exposure. As long as I have got a tank of fuel and grub, I can actually make money on the road and give other communities an opportunity to buy some of the chainsaw sculptures.”

But for now, back on his property he plugs away at a piece for a friends garden and pauses to tell me how he experimented with painting one of his first sculptures.

“It’s kind of like a gorgeous looking woman with cheap make-up. It doesn’t look good; so I am not going to incorporate anymore paint.”

Then he commented that moving from his property on the lake (just 300 metres from where he stands but not visible from the road) to a more noticeable work area has increased his orders.

“It was nicer down by the lake but this is more practical,” he remarked. “I am going to bring a building up here or build one here and hook up power and the internet so my son can run the sales [from there]. He will get to know the value of money [by] working.”

Then, he smiled and said, “I am going to fire it up.” With three carvings to finish and a five-foot Hawaiian Tiki head to start before he leaves in a few short weeks, who could blame him for not wanting to waste anymore time.