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can of worms revisited

November 9 2015 at 6:48 AM

steve backus  (Login flashbackus)
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Can of worms
August 28 2011 at 2:38 PM
steve backus (Login flashbackus)
I been kinda quiet on here for a while and thought I would lip off for a minute.
My thought is this,if you go through the effort to make a piece of real estate inhabitable for chainsaw carvers to land on and have the chance to compete with each other for whatever award is dangled out there, it is far and away easier to have it based on auction totals.

Having said that I am aware that this is no true indicator of the art that could develop if a carver were to try and please themselves, and qualified judges , as opposed to pleasing the crowd and what might sell for the most.

It has been my experience that having a contest with all the big kids and their {for the most part} demanding ways, complaining about the judging {the losers mostly or their wives, winners are always OK with things} and the wood,food motels,layout,sales etc. etc.

Not that a promoter should not strive to as good a job as possible, with the trick being to only promise what you can, then deliver more at the end, this can still go south on you if a prominent whiner is present, which in this age of invitationals you just don't have to invite them.

So it is without question that a timed event with qualified judges is harder to do, it cost more, it requires optimism,it requires determination, it requires "thick skin"{pioneers took all the arrows},it requires pointing the spotlight at the competitors not yourself, it can be a thankless task I assure you.

On the other hand its fun for some folks myself included to put on shows and contests, and if kept small and auction based, its not so bad and a fella or gal can leave the show with gas money and some bill paying ability, but a good rainstorm or poor advertising can stick you in the rear at times.

So I guess the point of my ramble is this, since the guilds have been de-fanged and de-clawed, and the golden sack boys have diminished somewhat, whats the point of trying to have a judged event? and who qualifies the judges? each promoter?can we just call every contest "world championship" and get ourselves top heavy with champions!

Its not the folks who don't go to contests that I want to hear from, its to easy to justifie not going to a contest, I would like to hear from those who like to go and compete, and would like to build a pedigree like some of the "big name carvers" because who are we kidding, any carver would like move up the ladder of reputation and skill, and the path to this end has traditionally to carve and win place or show in the arena with your peer group,am I wrong?

Wow look at me ramble on, finger sore must go, cant wait to hear from Scott...................

and remember carve or starve...

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Re: Can of worms
August 28 2011, 4:30 PM

Hi Steve

I haven't been in many competitions here in the UK, but those I have taken part in have been judged by votes from the carvers themselves. This seems to work well and I don't see the need for hiring in judges.
Just my humble opinion.


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(no login)
Thanks Steve
August 28 2011, 5:29 PM

I'll pretend you really did want to hear opinions from me...and many of these points are only opinions of the day- i may change them tomorrow.

First- we can learn more about someone by how they loose- than by how they win.
Second- loose the ambiguous criteria (like; the theme is nature and if you make anything related to nature you get all 10 points)is complete B.S....there is a HUGE difference between "meeting" the theme criteria (by making anything that might be found in nature)- and creating a sculpture that "directly makes a statement about" the theme. ambiguous criteria makes it hard to judge and even harder to compete.
Third-If you're concerned about auction(which usually is the case)- make auction $ a percentage of the judging- that will steer the carvings that way without totally leaving winning to the highest bidder.
Fourth- I agree with Carrie on carvers choice--but also as a percentage of the score-
Fifth- I like 2 judges qualified on two sets of criteria (and judges that don't spend the week hanging out with the carvers- or maybe even not know whos piece is whos)...
1).artistic impact (related to the theme) judge qualified in art crit
2).carving skill - judged by an experienced chainsaw carver

Last...I personally really want to see a competetive curcuit form- (or re-form) that is consistent and truly leads to 1 main event.

judging in summary-

assuming we have 10 carvers;
auction $ - 10 points- top to bottom (highest auction 10, lowest 1 point)
Carvers choice- 10 points- top to bottom (best carver 10, worst 2 points - yourself recorded as 1)
artistic impact- top to bottom- 10 best, 1 worst
Carving Skill- top to bottom- 10 best- 1 worst

highest score wins- eliminate auction points to break a tie

wshweeeew- thanks again Steve

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(Login MarkMahorney)
Re: Can of worms
August 28 2011, 11:42 PM

The fact that there isn't really anyplace in particular to go and we mostly just ramble about, with exception to some of the invitationals, does take away a lot from the and point of trying to progress in that direction. On the other hand, we're all adults and many professionals, we all pretty much know who the good and best carvers are anyway (a number of which don't compete at all, and downplay the use chainsaws, or don't use them at all), and the public really doesn't give a hoot, so what is the point other than stroking our own egos. Isn't that why ridgway, which emphasizes comraderie and education, has the biggest draw? The majority of carvers go home somewhere in the vicinity of break even from a lot events anyway regardless of format. The carvers that win the most judged competitions on average are also going to make the most at auctions and sell the most in their booths, and that's fair, and we all know who they are even if we're not keeping score. So even if we did have an organized circuit, while it would be fun, it would be pointless from the perspective of crowning a carver, but very much to the point indirectly advancing the art by challenging and educating carvers and the public, and possibly growing the market for the art and gaining respect. I do imagine we will soon see another go at a chainsaw carving reality show, following on recent ice and sand shows, and it will be interesting to see what impact that has on us if any.

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Re: Can of worms
August 29 2011, 8:52 AM

Great points Mark- for me- the point is improving, and competing against better carvers is the surest way to do that. I drove all the way to Wisconsin (15 hours)- just to compete next to Hyashi- because his saw skills are superior to mine/ and i wanted to understand why- and also to try and beat him with a more dramatic approach than i knew he would take.

I drove all the way there- took nothing to sell and didn't even concern myself with the money involved- i spend every other day of the year concerned about money- competing is a time to try something you never have before- push yourself to the limit- and grow as an individual....of course this is a problem for the event itself- they need auction $ and my carving (or Hiros or Hyashis or Ingvoldstad's) was not about the auction it was about the the dilema continues...

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great point Scott- you're really smart
August 29 2011, 6:23 PM

and just think how much fun that 4 prong approach would be for the carvers- you could go to try and win the auction--or the carving skill--or try to take it all. ....

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August 29 2011, 6:27 PM

Scott you forgot to mention that you didnt worry about money and you were treated well and left with a great since of accomplishment and knowing the friendships you had fordged would last a life time.

and you had a few dollars in the pocket also......!!!

I also think we are getting close to elimanating the auction ...not there yet but closer.

I understand Steve, but I have run into a few problems with the concept of art or sport. its hard to get a grant when they cant figure out what you are promoting art or sport. when you say chainsaw carving competition and then time the event they start asking if it is a sport or if you are appling for the right grant and then on the other had I get turned down for a grant because it to refine and should be under fine art......I feel like I as an artist I get pushed away because of the tools I choosebeacause they dont know how to catagorise it??? this sounds stupid to me because its only a tool ist sculpture any way you want to look at it ????

I guess we could make it more are as a comp or more sport also It would be really easy. but I do not think you should combine the two .....even though that is what you are doing regardless. I know that sounds totaly contradictory but look at it like this.

sport challange : each competitor gets 4 12 inch dia logs 2 feet tall they are turned to 12 inches and all of the same wood type and cut to the exact lenghts every competitor is allowed two saws one 50cc the other 36cc you are allowed to run a 16inch or 14 inch standard bar on the 50cc saw or a 12 or 8 on the 36cc. thats the artist choice. you have four figures you carve with certain demensions that you must be with in + or - takes away points or give points or adds time to the finish time first done doesnt reall mean you have one there is some skill also......

Art challange: you carve 8 ft logs over three or four days I am not sure it needs to be timed other then the start time and the end time ....I have carved at snow events that we carve all night and the same with ice ....why not with wood????? in the end the peices are judged for the winner based on specific criteria.......were I find the problem is what makes a judge qualified ????

and also chainsaw only or not you almost have to have both

I think most of the ideas can be worked with and I find the biggest issue with the guild or any other organisation is they cant keep the politics out of it......some one in the organisation or the groupe you end up working with eventually gets greeddy or a big head and then the judging and other things get skewed and then politics and compromise goes out the door once you lose the ability to negotiat and talk about things everyone loses.

I feel you will see a little of what you have mentioned but I dont think you will get it all.
I think the future of Chainsaw sculpture is changing and its changing for the better but no one can tell the future. but reality tv isnt were I would want to be ! I am thinking if we turn the tv off all our problems will be solved....

I know this isnt completely what you are all talking about but just the problems I ran into this year and thoughts that I had.


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Re: competiton
August 29 2011, 6:38 PM

youre right about all that Jamie...but that was all just a bonus---you know as well as anyone in the world what my focus was...

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steve backus
(Login flashbackus)
great stuff guys and gals
August 29 2011, 9:10 PM

Well I like this sensible dialog my sawdust encrusted comrades, as for the carvers voting on themselves after a show it can be an option for sure and I have been in several that were structured in that manner, but you are tired at the end of a grueling run and may hurry or not care at the moment, plus we are still a relatively small group and personal likes or dislikes can color your thinking.

As Jamie said the time of doing a contest without the auction is near but not here yet,sponsorship would be ideal and you would think chainsaw manufacturers would be the best potential sponsors, but is not so, as any promoter can tell you, not that some saw company's have not dipped their corporate toes in the very deep carver waters, with echo far and away the most helpful, and reality TV will work its way down the food chain until they get to us {chuckle} and that giant double edged sword will exploit our privacy and dignity, while at the same time kicking that sponsorship door off its frigging hinges and bring in true sponsors like Advil and Viagra!

I have seen so many circuits come and go{sigh} and following a rodeo cowboy, chainsaw carver, biker, viking, circuit has been life long pursuit of mine, I have been on both sides of the coin both as a carver that shows up {on time} and hopes that I get a fair shot at the gold ring, but I end up chasing the quarterback mostly {chuckle someones got to} the professional rodeo association probably took forty or fifty years to develop and we been doing chainsaw carving contests for thirty years so we are still on a learning curve.

And I been on the promoter end of things, and this is often a highly underpaid and unappreciated position, but without the risktakers and the dreamers where would we be? I tell you what folks dealing with a bunch of puffed up fragile egos as a promoter trying to provide good conditions, it is like feeding "strawberry's to a mule", they will eat them but they wont appreciate them!

The guilds are something I certainly believe in, and have been and will continue to support, and they are where the qualifying of judges should come from, in theory they would not be influenced by sponsors or politics.

Ok my finger grows weary and I am not done carving for the day, but what if a guy grew the sacks to have a big team carving with the east against west, or north against south, or stoners and burnouts against the jocks and the goody twoshoes, what conditions would suffice and how to judge it so the losers would still be able to hold their tear filled heads up high and shake the winners hand without rancor or disdain!

Sometimes its best to leaving sleeping giants lay!.....................

and remember carve or starve...

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Re: great stuff guys and gals
August 30 2011, 8:28 AM

that all makes great sense Steve...except the west coast team...that parts just funny...

seriously though- as you know, I'm new at this- my comps can be counted on one hand and a maybe I just have no idea and you've seen it all before- or maybe i have an advantage because I'm so green...

But- however it breaks down- multiple opportunities to win something will keep the carvers happy...whether it's like i broke it down before---or something else...cutest carving- most realistic animal, best color, best details...---whatever...I believe there are sooooooooooo many styles and approaches it is impossible to bring it to one set of criteria- except maybe when you have someone like Foltz just completely blowing the doors off the place...

This all brings me to my very first comp idea format- building and Ark, then compete to fill it with animals....imagine the display that could result- and imagine permenant displays of our work as apposed to an auction....

West coast team...

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Susan Miller
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The Ark
August 30 2011, 11:05 PM

Hey, it rains here a lot. The WEST COAST TEAM understands rain and floods and stuff. Might knock those other teams right outa the water if there happened to be a Noah's Ark theme.

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steve backus
(Login flashbackus)
you go girl,hi susan.
August 30 2011, 11:44 PM

I like the ark idea,but no mosquitoes, yes sir Scott I am a square but I sure been around! part of my long winded laments are the sad fact that you are not wrong about your theory's and getting everyone on the same judging page is a proven difficulty.

I shoot my mouth off on these matters because its important, if a person is to have a carving contest that can be presumed to be fair and unbiased there has to be a trust involved with both competitor and promoter that everything was done as well as could be done , but no matter the judging,when its over and the jailhouse lawyers start reviewing their cases, and it turns out loopholes abound!

Kinda late for me and the finger grows heavy,I talked to cris foltz just today and it turns out he lives on the "west coast"!

Hope too see your team out here some day so we can carve big ceder instead of whatever it is you folks carve..............

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(Login J.H.H.)
my 2
September 1 2011, 2:26 PM

Lets see,,,I think the comps have gone down the tubes,,,,New tools have been unleashed to make life easy and fast,,but they are owned by very few carvers but the best due to cost,,,,whats that tell ya? When the wood gets to the show it is usually all marked and taken by those that are faster and more able to get the good pieces,,,even I was left holding a spray can and looking at wood the first day of comp. means you have NO chance of competing....My cage match was designed after the only true competition that I have attended in my carving career,,,Reedsport Or. ,,,,you have a set time, same size piece of wood, and judged by those that are watching, that part is the only diff. from Reedsport. Yes, I only give contestants 20 min. max. to do a competitive quick carve, that is so you don't have to gas up, take a break, eat, study your pic.books or whatever,,,when the announcer says go you carve, when the horn blows you stop, introduce yourself and your carving and a winner is chosen by the viewing crowd,,,,Hell I think we ought to bracket and go for a world title, we would have to find a thick skinned judge or two though to make it honorable, so far I have had
Me, Jerry Heneger
Fred Berro
Nick Berro
Then Debbie Anderson
Nile Thomas
Kat Thomas
Jason Smathers
Dave Tremko
Jeff Samudowski
Curtis from Arlington
Sheri Kieffner
One german guy,can't rem. name, but will research.

I always ask carvers at shows to come try it,,,,,,MOST ARE CHICKENS and won't do it...before we get to the best teams we should see who the best individual carvers are. Just my two cents.........Jerry

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steve backus
(Login flashbackus)
September 3 2011, 4:22 PM

Dude sit down have a piece of cheese and chill some, the contests are just continuing on in their evolution, and its up to the willing to show the unwilling many examples of how to run contests and shows.

If no one tried then the skeptics would win, and we cant have that now can we?

You have the deming area at your disposal at this time,you have the time and ability to create an event that we all would love to go to.

Show us the way sir, and if it works everyone will copy you and then you know it works!?

If cage carves are your passion then go for it,set up some shows invite who you want, jump trough the hoops from venue to clean up and all the stuff in between{ food-wood-insuance-helpers-advertising-parking-power-camping-motels-firstaid-auction-stage-phone calls galore-invited carvers-uninvited carvers-big egos-little egos-greed-thrift-garbage-awards-stupid questions-lazyness} and I am sure I missed something.

have a nice day.....

and remember carve or starve...

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(Login JebNorthwest)
Re: my 2
September 4 2011, 2:16 PM

Cage match: Jerry vrs Steve.
Yeah, let the good times roll. happy.gif

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September 4 2011, 4:18 PM

I want to go up against someone else first......Jerry

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(Login JebNorthwest)
Re: No
September 4 2011, 4:35 PM

iF there was a cage match channel on tv, there would be one channel worth watching. happy.gif

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steve backus
(Login flashbackus)
I reckon
September 4 2011, 4:40 PM

I would have a leg up on him....

and remember carve or starve...

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