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Chainsaw artist transforms stumps into artwork

MADISON – Dale Rohe, owner of Rohe Bee Ranch, had to use some creative thinking to resolve an eyesore in his front yard. Luckily, he knew just the right person to turn ‘lemons into lemonade.’

At his home on Cline Drive, Rohe had to cut down a mature silver maple tree that had serious damage. He also was concerned about its roots getting to the house’s foundation. The stumpy, chopped-off limbs left an unsightly, dead hulk.

“My wife found Roark Phillips on the internet, and he was also recommended by a friend of ours that had seen some of his work when Roark had worked on Redstone Arsenal,” Rohe said. Phillips of Fayetteville, Tenn. is a chainsaw artist and owns Boots, Chaps and Chainsaws, a chainsaw carving and rustic design service.

Phillips turns “logs into sculptures and limbs into beautiful furniture,” he said.

“After seeing some of samples from his website, we knew Roark would provide us with a sculpture that we would enjoy for years,” Rohe said. “We mentioned a few ideas for what we would like the sculpture to be, maybe a bear or something in the beekeeping realm since I’m a beekeeper.”

“I was not sure what Roark’s final design would be. We really wanted to let Roark decide after seeing the tree trunk what design would work best,” Rohe said. “We left that (decision) up to him and his creativity.”

For his design, Phillips reduced the four cut-off limbs into one slender ‘tree trunk.’ At the top of the trunk, he sculpted a large bee hive. His final element was a full-size black bear, smiling as it scrambles up the tree to reach the bee’s honey. He also painted the ‘sculpture.’

The Rohes think Phillips design was perfect, especially because they farm bees. “We planted that tree 23 years ago. It’s nice to have it still here as a piece of art,” Rohe said.

After starting with a couple of colonies, Rohe now farms honey with his business, Rohe Bee Ranch. A typical yield of honey in one year is one ton. He also makes candles, soap, lip balm and furniture polish. For information, visit rohebeeranch.com.

For more information about Roark’s work, visit cuttinthru.com or Facebook/Boots, Chaps and Chainsaws.

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