The art of carving


Artist Bear Jones displayed this cornucopia during Montevallo’s ArtStalk.

Bear Jones uses a chainsaw to reveal artistic masterpieces hidden in recycled wood

Story and photos by Laura Brookhart

The last year has brought Bear Jones fully onto new paths of possibility.

He has earned his bachelor’s degree in project management administration, graduated valedictorian of his class of 2015 and been active as president of the National Honor Society.

Along the way, Jones, who was born in Florida, raised in New York and has lived in Alabama since 2000, has incorporated freelance work in construction and landscaping irrigation as well as work with Southern Company Services in electrical design.

In May, after moving to Montevallo, he took up a new venture—wood working with a chainsaw—a creative outlet he had thought about over the past seven years and knew he wanted to pursue.

The week before the November Artstalk, working from the dried cedar trees accumulated in his backyard, he “carved out” time to work on a series of sculptures.

The result was a bounteous vignette of fall-themed carvings—cornucopias and pumpkins eye-catchingly styled by his wife, V. Jones.

“Much of my work is experimental. I enjoy finding the object within the tree that calls to me and puzzling out the best technique to bring it forth,” Jones said.

In the fourth grade, he was reprimanded for not paying attention in art class where the usual elementary grade coloring projects were taught. Fortunately, he was then placed in the sophomore-senior art classes, where he further was able to develop his level of skill.

“Working in wood requires inverse thinking,” he explained. “You are not adding clay balls to clay balls to make an object. Rather, I think of the chainsaw as a great eraser.”

There are two methodologies of chainsaw artists—the “blockers” and the “whittlers.” Jones considers himself a whittler. “We shave, shape and whittle to extricate the final object,” he said.

He prefers to finalize each of his carvings from a single piece of wood and recalls that his first carving was of an eagle that began as a fence post. He was disappointed to find within an area of rot that resulted in the final proportions being imperfect.

Jones poses with an alligator sculpture named "Matilda."

Jones poses with an alligator sculpture named “Matilda.”

At Artstalk, his alligator, named Matilda, attracted attention lying in the grass next to the sidewalk. “This was my second carving. I started with the head and added the body detail after studying online images of real alligators. I have been criticized for ‘doing too much detail,’ which surprises me,” Jones added.

Another sculpture shown at Artstalk was a snowman, also formed from a single log, except for the nose and branch arms. It was purchased along with an order for a second snowman to be given as a gift. The snowmen will be left unvarnished, so that the cedar fragrance may still be enjoyed.

Cedar naturally provides reds (the heartwood), yellows and browns and Jones adds definitive shading in deeper tones with a blowtorch.

“I use only reclaimed or recycled trees and wood; no live trees are sacrificed for my work,” Jones said. “People call me when they have felled or fallen trees, which I am happy to retrieve.”

In his backyard currently is an experimental work in progress that began as a hollow log.

“My first idea was to make it into a bookshelf, then V. and I realized the potential for a one-of-a-kind wine rack. It will hold eight bottles of wine and the top will be carved grape leaves and grapes; the bottom will be tree roots.”

Jones will also add a built-in removable cedar tray fitted into the top from which glasses of wine and cheeses may be served.

Another developing idea is a bistro table and chairs that will incorporate luminescent powder encased in epoxy within its base to create a glow at night.

“You’re not going to find this anywhere else,” he smiled.

Contact Bear at or visit his Facebook page at

280 Reporter

Oak Mountain’s pitching leads to area sweep of Chelsea


Montevallo boys, girls soccer claim senior night wins over Shelby County

280 Main Story

Oak Mountain honors seniors with senior night wins over Montgomery Academy


Shelby County organizations prepare for National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

280 Main Story

County approves resurfacing, repaving of west Shelby County

280 Main Story

Chelsea Council pays off ChHS weight room, approves text alert system

280 Main Story

Chelsea residents sample barbecue during annual Fire at the Foothills

280 Main Story

Third annual Hargis Day planned for May 18

280 Main Story

Spain Park’s Chris Laatsch taking over as Orange Beach basketball coach

Alabaster Main Story

Alabaster approves ordinance to dispose of old police department, old city hall

280 Reporter

Spain Park remains perfect with season sweep of No. 4 Oak Mountain

Alabaster Main Story

Alabaster plans 3rd annual Walk in the Park


Helena Historical Preservation Committee leads hike


Calera Main Street kicks off First Friday series


Annual Walk for Christ finds success in Pelham with new additions

280 Reporter

Oak Mountain finishes perfect area play run with shutout of Spain Park

Alabaster Main Story

Alabaster enjoys Parade of Teams after start of little-league season

280 Main Story

Helena, Thompson atop softball media rankings, six area baseball teams in top 10


Montevallo claims boys soccer area title with season sweep of Northside

280 Main Story

Spain Park hires Fort Payne’s Justin Kisor as varsity volleyball coach

Alabaster Main Story

Thompson names Major Deacon new boys basketball coach

280 Reporter

AHSAA approves shot clock for non-area basketball play, director Alvin Briggs retires in busy AHSAA Central Board meeting


MPD arrest two daycare employees for aggravated child abuse


Bulls clinch regular season championship with sweep of Evansville