Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chain Saw Artist Gets His Kicks Doing a Bust

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Chain Saw Artist Gets His Kicks Doing a Bust

Article excerpt

Some believe in suffering for their art, but in Ken Tynan's case, he'd rather wear Kevlar chaps.

The Butler native, 52, is a chain saw artist. In an episode of "Saw Dogs," a show that debuted this week on Discovery's Velocity channel, Mr. Tynan had to create an NFL Hall of Fame-type bust of former Pittsburgh Steelers punter Mitch Berger in just two days.

Master carver Steve Blanchard and his crew helped, but it was up to Mr. Tynan to create a $50,000 pedestaled likeness for one of Mr. Berger's Players Chophouse restaurants in Vancouver.

Imagine "Cake Boss," with a lot more danger.

"It was just beautiful wood, 1,000-year-old redwood, magnificent," said Mr. Tynan, who was put up in style by the producers in October after being asked to work as one of the guest carvers.

"He was perfect for the [episode] because it involved a commission for a retired Steeler, and Ken is a huge Steeler fan!" said Jim Kiriakakis, head of television for Toronto's Buck Productions.

Mr. Tynan always wanted to be an artist and learned to work on large canvases. He won awards for painting billboards earlier in his career. He also has worked in murals and other media, but he happened upon a chain saw demonstration at an Iowa county fair.

"I'd cut down little saplings around the billboard [with a chain saw], but that was pretty much it," he said.

He and a friend enrolled in a six-week course, and now he's known for his ability to sculpt fine detail. A chain saw is an unforgiving tool, however, for both the artist and the sculpture.

Mr. Tynan said he has hit himself in the legs a couple of times with the chain, but the bulletproof Kevlar did its job. An errant slip of the chain saw -- artists use other tools as well for the fine work -- also can be disastrous.

"We call this the art of subtraction," he said. "You try to leave enough wood on there [to allow for mistakes] when you're carving delicately."

"Saw Dogs" premieres new episodes on Saturdays, and Mr. Tynan's will be repeated in coming weeks. …

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