Chainsaw mastery: Artist carves tree into gigantic human hand
December 17, 2020 | 2:53 pm CST
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WALES, U.K. - British artist Simon O'Rourke has used a chainsaw to carve trees into just about everything - lions, angels, dragons, knights, dogs, Batman, gigantic human hands... he's done all of them.
 
His recent sculpture, titled the Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, measures 50 feet tall and was carved from what was formerly the tallest tree in Wales.
 
"I found out through a friend that the tallest tree in Wales had been storm damaged and was due to be felled, and that Natural Resource Wales who were in charge of the site, were going to commission an artist to carve the tree," he says on his website. "I searched the internet for the right person to talk to, and on finding them, I got permission to submit a design."
 
"I began researching the area and found the area of woodland that contained the tree was known as the Giants of Vyrnwy. This got me thinking and I decided on a giant hand, symbolizing the giants, and the tree’s last attempt to reach for the sky."
 
The project was tough, he writes.
 
"(A) scaffold was needed to make it safe to work on, and the terrain was such a difficult one that it took two days to erect the scaffold!" 
 
"Six days of intense work followed using chainsaws and grinders. I needed to add two pieces for the thumb and little finger, as the tree wasn’t wide enough to form the whole hand."
 
After he finished carving, he coated the sculpture in tung oil.
 
O'Rourke has built up quite a reputation in England. He began as an illustrator of children's books before becoming a tree surgeon. Now he supports himself through his tree carving business, charging upwards of $10,000 for a life-size human figure carving. He has nearly 8,500 followers on Instagram and his work has been featured in numerous publications.

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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]