MESOPOTAMIA - A Rock Creek artist has turned a 300-year-old damaged oak tree into a work of art.
Using chainsaws of various sizes and lengths as well as hand rotary tools and sanders, wood carver Bob Anderson crafted the likeness of a frontiersman into the giant tree trunk located at the End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia.
The tree was damaged last summer by a storm, and some of it had to be cut down. Operators of the family-owned store decided to have a carving made of what was left instead of tearing it down, and the public was invited to watch the transformation, which took the master carver about seven weeks to complete.
Rock Creek artist Bob Anderson carved the likeness of a frontiersman into the 300-year-old damaged oak tree using chainsaws of various lengths and sizes. The tree is next to the End of the Commons General Store in Mesopotamia.
"He really spent a lot of time working on it and perfecting the details. It was a fun process. It was fun watching it progress. A lot of people were coming back every week for the last two months, and now they're really excited to see it finished ... they're just amazed that someone can do it with a chainsaw and be able to preserve a tree in that condition," said Scott Schaden of the End of the Commons General Store.
The subject of the carving was kept closely guarded by Anderson until its completion, but that didn't stop people from guessing as he worked.
"They thought it was a really neat tribute to all the fronstiersmen who came through Northeast Ohio. They thought it was a good idea that it could represent so much," Schaden said.
A plaque containing facts about frontiersmen coming through Mesopotamia in the 1700s is positioned next to the finished carving. Anderson also carved a bench where people can take a load off or have their picture taken in front of the sculpture.
Bad weather coupled with rotten wood delayed Anderson along the way. He was forced to cut and patch sections of the wood, but ended up finishing only a week or two past his original time of completion.
"He was real happy with it. It's the biggest carving he did, probably the most detailed," Schaden said.
The End of the Commons General Store is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the oldest operating general stores in the United States. Kenneth and Margaret Schaden purchased the store in 1982, and the Schaden family continues to run the business today.