Added to museum: 6/24/09
Chainsaw? Yes, you read it correctly. Although a tool more often associated with tree removal than artistic craftsmanship, it is simply another way to remove wood, just as a lathe or chisel can do, only faster. In the hands of an artist, the results can be amazing. Part of the fun of this section on unusual skills is to expose other craftsmen to the many ways skill can be demonstrated, and even a tool as unlikely as a chainsaw can produce beautiful results with enough talent, skill and practice. After discovering a video of Randy at work on the Internet we looked at other artists who turn old stumps, logs and dead trees into art, and found Mr. Boni's work to be among the most life-like of any now being produced. Enjoy the photos below and watch the video link at the end of the article to see how it is done. When it comes to chainsaw carvers, Randy is among the best of the best.
Randy Boni at work. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)
Mr. Randy Boni is commissioned by commercial, public, and private property owners around the country to sculpt dying or damaged trees into high profile landmarks. Using primarily a chainsaw, Boni is regarded as one of the most proficient chainsaw artist in the country. Boni has always depended on wood for his livelihood and has a deep respect for trees, conservatism, proper forest management, and safeguarding nature, not destroying it. “If a tree is dying or has to be taken down, I feel I'm preserving some remembrance of the tree with my carvings,” he stated.
Randy Boni is the son of Mr. & Mrs. Eugene Boni, of Ridgway, Pennsylvania. Growing up near the Allegheny National Forest, the wildlife such as deer, bear, red tailed hawks, palliated wood peckers, and elk, have offered realistic references for the wildlife reflections found in Randy's work today. “I'm fussy about realism, proper proportion, and I try to bring life into the creatures that I carve,” stated Boni.
Randy Boni's carved animals have a subtle, lifelike quality not often seen in sculpture done with power tools. (Click on either photo to view a larger image.)
Boni denies attributing his three dimensional skills to the blindness that he endured for over 30 years of his young life. “My twin brother and I were born with a hereditary condition known as cataracts. We were legally blind and could not see well enough to play ball or fit in all that well with sport endeavors, although we sure tried. All of us kids went to Catholic school until ninth grade, then we attended public school. Gym, art and woodshop were my favorite classes.” Boni continued to say he enjoyed drawing, spinning clay, carving soap and using his hands to create dimensional form. Surgery on both eyes allowed Randy to see for the first time when he was in his late 30's. “The very first thing I did was run out to East Branch Dam to see the thick cable draped across it. People used to ask me (astonished), 'you mean you can't see that cable?' I couldn't even see that a leaf had veins or that flowers had individual peddles. I can see now, and I know how fortunate I really am,” stated Boni.
“My whole family is creative—they carve, play music, paint, throw pottery, build kayaks, and my sister Becky has a way with horses. We all have built our lives around our creative passions. My brother Rick and his wife Liz have started their very own Appalachian Art Studio, located in Ridgway, where people can visit or take classes if one should want a creative experience,” Boni continued.
Twin brothers Randy and Rick Boni are both artistic carvers who sometimes team up at exhibitions to create a single piece. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
The artist is happy within his creative lifestyle. Although very humble, quiet and understated, he stated that he never prays for money, he just prays for work instead. Expressing how much he loves what he does, he hopes to work until old age. “I'm a fool about it, I've built my life on creative expression,” replies Boni.
Boni landmarks are sprinkled all over the country offering lasting impressions to viewers. “I love what I do, I'll leave a little something behind when I'm gone,” stated Boni, as he carves out his legacy one landmark at a time.
You can view more of Randy Boni's work at his own web site at www.abundance-acres.com. There is also a contact link there to arrange for a custom commission should you wish to have him turn one of your trees into a work of art. A video of Randy demonstrating the carving of an eagle at an event in Germany can be seen on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImsQRso3rNA.
(Click any photo for a larger image.)
|A group of Randy's sculptures greet lodge visitors in Jay, Vermont. This project is one of Randy's most recent.|
|Outside the Vermont lodge a tall Indian with an eagle is flanked by two standing bears.|
|This long scene features many different kinds of fish. It is currently being created (6/09) on site to be installed in Punta Gorda, Florida.|
A resting doe and fawn. Note the two raccoons in the tree behind them.
|Three sleepy bears|
|Foxes at play|
|Three turkeys are shown just completed and after a final finish is applied.|
|Owls nesting in an old log along with other woodland creatures|
|A carousel horse with an ornate saddle is shown in progress in Randy's shop. Randy also uses more traditional wood carving tools for detail in some of his work.|
|A proud Indian in full regalia|
An eagle atop an Indian head and an eagle with a broken wing exhibit two aspects of Randy's vision.
|A golfer looks perfectly at home on the course.|
|(Left) An eagle with wings spread. Note the
impressive feather detail.
(Right) Another eagle ready for display.
|Eagle head details|
|Two eagles stand watch at the side of the road.|
|Carved caricatures display another aspect of Randy's carving talents. On the left, a hobo and cowboy. In the other photo, a fishing hillbilly snags an old shoe.|
|A beautiful Mermaid graces this garden. The second photo shows a chair of carved leaves which would go great in a garden too.|
Randy also carves fireplace mantels. Each mantel is crafted out of one piece of prime and solid timber, custom milled for a perfect fit. With a hand rubbed patina, one could compare the finish to that of the old world look and feel of a gentlemen's pipe.
|Randy's latest piece was completed in late 2009. It features a row of woodland creatures all carved out of one giant log. The two photos to the left show the beginning of the job. More photos below show cutting progress and the finished piece after color and protective finish were applied..|
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