Moma Bear and Cubs:
This is a large hand carving I did for a client in South Lake Tahoe, Ca. I was commissioned to carve an existing tree that was beatle killed and was going to be cut down by the local power company. The home owners didn't want to have a typical chain saw carved bear but wanted something that would fit the neighborhood's calm and friendly atmosphere.
The lower part of the tree I had the power company leave was about 14 feet tall, here it was 40 inches in diameter. Only after I took the bark off could I see there was a bit of insect damage to some parts of the 100 + year old Jeffery Pine. I had to move the carving around to eliminated the damage and have solid wood to work with. The momma and two cubs at her feet carving took about 3 or 4 months to complete. I roughed her out with power tools and finished with chisel and mallet.
The photos show the progression and scale of the work. The carving was done in three levels, as I could only work in 4 foot sections, from my head to my knees. Each level was carved and finished before the platform was moved down the the next level. This is not the way I normally carve but there was no way to carve the entire piece and then go back up to do the finishing as I had to attach the platform to the tree because of the rocks and uneven ground. It was a bit of a challenge to make sure everything lined up from top to bottom.
I wanted her to look at the passers-by and not have an aloof gaze. I don't know how many times I climbed up and down the platform to go out into the street and make sure she was looking in the right direction.
I am pleased with the final results. She isn't the normal carved bear, with fangs and claws but rather a part of the neighorhood.
The home owners say it is beyond what they expected, they named her Missy and use a short video of here on their web site, advertising the home for vacation rental.
The neighbors next door liked the carving so much they commissioned me to do something for them, that is the last photo of 4 cubs climbing a tree. Here I did something different, I attached the 4 carved cubs to the 12 foot tree so the bark could stay intact. Each of the cubs have a very different personality, the youngest at the bottom saying 'ha, wait for me', the next one is the nimble one, the third one is a bit on the round side and trying get his feet under himself and then the friendly one on top waving to the home owners on their deck. The home owners just love the piece and I think it adds to the neighborly feeling Missy next door has.
These 4 cubs were carved in my shop over the winter and installed in late spring. Installation takes about 3 or 4 hours.