Niles’ Danny Bloss cuts into a piece of maple that by Saturday will become a wood crane. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Cutting edge art

Published 4:32pm Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A fine mist of yellow wood chips bounced off the bandana of Buddy Rasmussen as he pushed a chainsaw through a large chunk of maple tree.

It doesn’t look like much now, but, by Saturday, the piece of maple will have transformed into a baby elephant.

That’s Rasmussen’s hope anyway.

“I think it’s going to turn out really good,” he said.

Rasmussen, of Texas, is one of three men brought in to create wood sculptures for Niles Main Street public art.

Rasmussen, Reverend Butter, of Texas, and Danny Bloss, of Niles, began carving Wednesday afternoon near the intersection of Front and Main streets in downtown Niles.

Their work is a kickoff of sorts for Niles Main Street’s Arts in Motion, an interactive art event running Friday and Saturday in downtown Niles.

If the sculptors’ names sound familiar, it’s because each has done ice carvings for Niles’ Hunter Ice Festival. They’ll be performing in an ice fight Friday night at the Riverfront Park Amphitheatre.

Rasmussen said it’s good to be back.

“We love Niles. They’ve always embraced us and brought us in. We always have a good time,” said Rasmussen, who has been carving ice for 25 years and wood for five.

Butter will be creating a baby giraffe and Bloss a wood crane.

Each artist started with a large piece of wood donated by Kachur Tree Service. They prepared each piece by stripping the bark and cutting a flat base. Then they cut a shallow outline of the design and went to work.

Unlike ice carvings, which can be created in a short period of time, wood carvings often take a long time to finish. It’s also a more physically demanding job.

But there are benefits.

“It doesn’t melt. That’s the most beautiful thing about it,” he said. “It’s hard to watch everything you carve melt away into nothing. If you take care of wood, it will last forever.”

Rasmussen said he’s done about 200 wood sculptures and close to 20,000 with ice.

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