Say Pepsi, please . . . with a stump

Staff writer

With long, careful cuts, sculptor Richard Sardou of Marion carved a tree stump into the shape of an old-fashioned Pepsi bottle in the yard of retired Pepsi employee Dean Staver’s vacation home Thursday at Marion County Park and Lake.

“Every piece offers a new challenge,” Sardou said. “I’d never done a Pepsi bottle.”

He began carving with a chain saw about nine years ago after seeing chain saw sculptor A.J. Luter demonstrate it at the Kansas State Fair.

“He made it look so easy,” Sardou said. “After 30 years, it was easy for him.”

When he returned home from the fair, Sardou took out an electric chain saw and carved a bear out of a log.

“It became kind of an addiction,” he said. “You’re always looking for logs and chain saws.”

Sardou turned his art into a business, R&L Creative Carvings, located at 25 Jerome Road at Marion County Park and Lake.

Speed is the biggest advantage a chain saw has over other carving techniques, he said. It allows him to complete large sculptures in a short time compared with using a chisel.

“You can move a lot of wood real quick with a chain saw,” Sardou said.

On the other hand, chain saws present a real risk of injury if he lets his mind wander.

“A chain saw is an extremely versatile tool, but it’s also really unforgiving,” he said. “I’ve had kickbacks that scared me to death.”

As he has practiced his craft, those kickbacks have become less frequent, he said.

Sardou uses different saws and chains depending on the circumstances. He uses a standard cross-cut saw to cut a log to the correct length, a ripping blade to make long silhouette cuts, and a small, fine-tipped saw for details.

Sardou tries to tell a story in all of his creations. One of his favorites was a series of three bears: Junior, Babs, and Lefty. Happy and grinning, Junior was flirting with Babs, which Lefty didn’t like at all. The sculptures capture the moment right before Lefty unexpectedly clobbers Junior, Sardou said.

He works with an interior decorator who orders a pair of 9-foot-tall bears each year for a chain of restaurants.

“One of these days, we’d like to go around to all the restaurants and get pictures of the bears,” his wife, Linda, said.

She helps him with detail work and finishing the sculptures. She has also tried her hand at carving with a chain saw.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “I just haven’t had time.”

 

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