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Toppled trees becoming big art


Chainsaw artist Jacob Lucas regards the giant salmon he carved from a downed tree trunk. Now he faces the task of releasing other creations from a second stump in the park. He will be working on it this week. — Scott Hunter photo

A giant Chinook salmon was forming from a tall blue spruce in Mason City Park over the weekend.

It was being carved by Jacob Lucas, who carved the animal, bird and fish figures through the town of Bridgeport.

“I could see the salmon in the stump because it had a knot that stuck out, ideal for a fin,” Lucas said.

The project was the idea of Coulee Dam Mayor Quincy Snow, who saw an opportunity after a big windstorm in July damaged two big trees in the park, one falling on the other.

Lucas started the Chinook salmon Friday morning, and by early afternoon the tall head of the fish was peeking out of the trunk.

The people started coming in the afternoon. Even a tour bus stopped so a number of Japanese visitors could take pictures.

You could see the outline of the rest of the fish spray painted on the trunk.

By the end of Sunday’s work, Lucas had uncovered the entire salmon; it was like a sentinel over the park.

But it was the second stump that caused Lucas to go into a thoughtful pose.

“I can see maybe a bear, eagle, and maybe some other things in the stump,” he said. The number of knots posed a problem, though.

Lucas recently finished a chainsaw carving at the entrance to Chelan. He has numerous carvings throughout the state.

When finished with the carvings Lucas will put a stain seal on them and they will be ready for a backdrop of photos overlooking Grand Coulee Dam.

The string of carvings in Bridgeport were on sycamore trees. Cedar is his favorite carving wood.

Lucas’ background includes drawing, painting, glass blowing, and now carvings.

“I just graduated to this,” he said, and has been doing it since 2004.

Coulee Dam resident Frank Ward, watching the show, told the artist, “I don’t see how you can do that so fast.”

Lucas replied, “I participate in speed shows where you have to work fast and accurately.”

Lucas is from Bonney Lake, in the Tacoma region.

He had a number of animals that were already carved in his pickup and already had sold one of a bear.

The $12,000 project is being paid for with Coulee Dam’s hotel/motel tax fund.

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