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Wednesday, Apr 02 2014 06:00 AM

'So many stumps, so little time'

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(From left) Kent Holmgren says he gets most of his wood from Hector Chavez, Jr., and Chriso Lee of Chriso's Tree Trimming. Darla A. Baker / Tehachapi News

Chainsaw artist Kent Holmgren is demonstrating the work that goes into creating his wooden masterpieces. Kathleen Kline / Tehachapi News

Chainsaw artist Kent Holmgren has been woodcarving ever since he was a teenager.

"My dad was a sculptor," said Holmgren, "he gave me my first chainsaw with the stipulation that I had to learn on my own."

Holmgren has been selling his carvings in Tehachapi since the 1990s. Lately, his creations can be viewed on Tehachapi Boulevard across the street from Kmart.

A great deal of the wood he works with is found by Chriso Lee of Chriso's Tree Trimming, and all is harvested locally. Many days, Holmgren can be found in front of Chriso's lot putting his chainsaw blades to some of the most spectacular harvested stumps that can be found.

"It kills me," Holmgren said concerning the burning of such beautiful wood. That's why he and Chriso set aside the more magnificent pieces for Holmgren to carve with. Otherwise, in his opinion, it was "pretty expensive firewood."

"He's done everything he can to make it viable for me to carve my projects," said Holmgren of Lee.

Originally from the state of Washington, Holmgren has carved everything from mermaids to carousel animals to garden gates. He says he has carved "up and down the Oregon coast," as well as in Tehachapi.

His beautiful carving of an Indian, which can be seen at the gates of Lee's firewood lot, took him five days to create.

"There isn't anything I haven't done throughout the years," he said.

He accepts special orders for both interior as well as exterior pieces, including stove hoods, fireplace mantels and window treatments. For exterior pieces, he can turn old tree stumps into works of art. He also carves landscape sculptures.

"So many stumps, so little time," he said.

Holmgren uses linseed oil to care for his carvings, and estimates he has completed carvings from approximately 200 to 300 stumps in the area.

"I sell my work by the day," he said. "Tell me what you'd like, and let me see if it's possible."

Holmgren can be reached by calling (760) 638-1635 or find him working alongside Tehachapi Boulevard.

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