GREENSBURG – As the ARTisTREE district grows and enriches the community of Greensburg, art and artistic inspirations begin to dot the landmark.
Murals on the sides of local buildings and interesting, sometimes funky but always fun and eye-catching contributions from the local art community, help mark the growth Greensburg is experiencing.
Chainsaw artist John Derheimer is beginning to claim some of that landscape. Using a large and a small chainsaw gifted to him by his wife, Nancy, John is carving out his own unique niche.
From frolicking bears to surprised skunks to blue herons in repose, Derheimer’s works are generating quite a bit of local interest.
Carving is a subtractive discipline. For many, the creative process involves adding one thing to another to make a desired statement. For Derheimer, that process is reversed.
“I remove material and try not to remove too much. You can always come back and remove a little more, but when you remove too much it’s hard to put it back,” he said.
When he looks at a blank — an uncarved wood log, for example — he said he can see what his creation will look like before he starts carving.
“It takes a while. Sometimes I just stare at a log until I see it,” he said.
Even for small, detailed works, Derheimer uses a chainsaw and a grinder. Never a chisel.
“Sometimes the chainsaw will make the wood fray, so I have to come back and smooth it out,” he said.
He prefers to work with ash. A very hard wood with a fine grain, he can achieve more detailed pieces from ash.
“After I get it finished, when I’m happy with it, I give it a good coat of polyurethane because I want it to last,” he said.
Derheimer said the most difficult part of many of his pieces are the finer details associated with beaks and facial features.
“Sometimes, I will walk around a piece of wood 150 times, and I’ll take a little away here and a little away there. Sometimes I make myself crazy, and I have to walk away!” he said. “When I come back, I’ll see it and I keep going. The best part, the best part of it all, is when I can say, ‘That’s it! I got it!’”