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Front Page » June 26, 2003 » Business Journal » Fairy tale comes true
Published 4,100 days ago

Fairy tale comes true


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher


Shawn Wade of Prince only took two and a half days and his chain saw to turn a 10 to 16 foot tree stump into this piece of art. In just his second year of compeition at Craig, Colo., Wade not only pefected this creative art piece, but brought home every first place award at the compeition.

What do you get when you give an 'Ol coal miner a chain saw? For Shawn Ward of Price it's a fairy tale comes true.

Even though he has only been carving with a chain saw for two and a half years, that didn't stop him from making a clean sweep at the fourth annual Whittle de Wood Rendevous chainsaw carving competition in Craig, Colo. He brought home first place awards in all categories, including the first place judges award, first place artists choice, and first place people's choice.

This was Ward's second year in the compeition and he was one of only 12 carvers invited to compete. Over 200 applications were sent out for the annual event and it brought carvers from around the world. One man traveled form Lithuania and another competitor came from Romania. Last year's competition was featured on the Outdoor Channel.

Each carver was given a tree stump 10 to 16 feet tall somewhere in the city park. They were turned loose to create a masterpiece using only the log, their chainsaws and their imaginations. They were given three and a half days to complete the work.

A large celebration is held in the park the final afternoon where the public is invited to watch the carvers finish up their work. The carvings are all left in the park with the previous years' carvings.

Ward grew up in Heber City and as a teen he worked with his father, Tom Ward of Wellington. They laid bricks and the senior Ward taught Shawn good, hard work ethics. Following high school gradution his work as a contractor, explosive and drilling boss took him to some of the remote and breathtaking areas in the west, "which fueled my love and admiration for the outdoors and it's wildlife."

His mother, Vicki Wilson of Duchesne, is a talented artist and encouraged her son to express his artistic talents through his obsession to draw hot rods. But his mother wasn't his only influence. His aunt, Lona Hymas-Smith of Idaho is a world champion wood carver and recently coached Ward expand his talents carving wood with a chainsaw.

The overall project is called "Desert Hallucinations" with this one branch of the tree becoming the vulture. The pasterpiece was created at the Whittle de Wood Rendezvous 2003 in Craig, Colo.

In 1992 after Ward moved to Price his life began to change. He went to work as a coal miner, working underground for eight to 12 hours a day, six days a week. "Most of the time I was going to work in the dark, doing my job in the dark, and returning home in the dark," he recalls, adding "how I hated it."

Two events further changed his life. Things were brightened when he met and married his best friend, Randi.They have three sons. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and sufferd a non-severe stroke, but with his heart working at 20 percent of capacity he was confined to the house.

Family and friends brought him all kinds of things to do to occupy his time. But, "while I was hurrying up to wait for the outcome of the next treatment I did clay sculpturing, sketching and reading," he remembers. "I even did paint-by-numbers," Ward said.

He found a way to keep in touch with one of his favorite things, the outdoors by whittling a face into a stick outside on the deck. The sticks got bigger and bigger until Ward was going through the firewood pile looking for a face that he could help emerge with his dremmel tool. Miraculously, seven months later he was able to return to work.

But in 1999 the mine he was working in started on fire and burned for 12 months before the explosion hit and shut down the mine. Ward and the other miners started looking for new ways of making their livelihood. Thus his new career emereged as he pursued a woodcarving business full time.

His best pieces are the ones where he lets the log dictate to him what it should become. "I am always looking for something new and challenging to create," says Ward. His favorite piece is one he named Kalijuh, a 13-foot drug store Indian who greets visitors at the "Hole in the Rock" in Moab.

"I truly love what I do," says Ward, adding, "I have been so blessed and I sincerely hope that you will have the experience of being touched by one of my carvings in the way that they have touched me, for each one of my carvings has a personality of its own. they should stir something in your heart too."

Ward carves full time for his business, Barkless Dog Carvings, named after his favorite dog. His work can be seen at Main street Carapets, 66 East Main in Price or at Country Critters Cafe at 336 West Highway in Castle Dale. His business phone is 637-0722.


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