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A perfect cut

  • 11_news_woodcarver2.jpg
    Bearly Get'n By's Darren Yurkunas carves a parrot statue at the Carbon County Fair on Thursday. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app to see a video of Yurkanus in action. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
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    A selection of chainsaw-carved statues made by Darren Yurkunas, a self-taught artist. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
  • 11_news_woodcarver3.jpg
    Yurkunas loves his cartoon-themed statues, which he said catch the eyes of children at the fair. BRIAN W. MYSZKOWSKI/TIMES NEWS
Published August 12. 2017 09:00AM

Darren Yurkunas’ passion for chainsaw art was born eight years ago, when a carving artist at the Carbon County Fair caught his attention. Returning home to a fresh pile of wood, he set to work on his own statues.

These days, he’s Bearly Get’n By.

Don’t worry, Yurkunas is actually doing quite well. That’s just the name of his own chainsaw art business.

Throughout the Carbon County Fair, Yurkunas has been displaying and selling his pieces, ranging from cartoon characters like Nemo and Dory to bears armed with guns. All the while, he’s also doing live demonstrations, crafting unique works with little more than a chunk of wood, a chainsaw, and a good eye for art.

“I actually just went here and saw the guy that used to do it from Brodheadsville, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to try that.’ I went home, and I haven’t stopped since,” he said.

Through a bit of trial and error, Yurkunas mastered his own particular technique, with no outside instruction. Although he was a quick study, Yurkunas does admit that his first attempt may have been a little off.

“I won’t lie, my first bear looked like a pig,” he said. “But, after that, I never threw anything away. Everything I made, I sold.”

This is Yurkunas’ fourth year at the fair, and his demonstrations and work tend to catch the attention of fairgoers and fellow vendors. In fact, he had just recently completed a statue of an alligator holding a taco for Bethlehem’s Geakers Tacos, who had a booth set up directly behind Bearly Get’n By. This was Yurkunas’ second alligator for Geakers.

Yurkunas said that his woods of choice are usually oak and pine, depending upon the project.

“Every once in a while I get a piece of eastern hemlock, it’s pretty good,” he said. “The pine works good on bigger items, more rounded items, but if I want to do something with a lot of detail, like the flowers, I’ll use oak for that.”

As for the subject of the art itself, Yurkunas said that it comes down to the shape of the wood.

“When I look at the log, like that one in the back there,” he said, gesturing toward a flower statue, “I saw the shape – bent out, flared out – and I said, ‘That’s got to be a flower tower.’”

Special orders sometimes require a hunt for the perfect piece of wood in order to match the correct size and shape of the request. Yurkunas’s work has ranged in size from just a few inches, all the way up to a bear that was six feet, eight inches tall. And somehow, he manages to do it all without specialized equipment.

“I don’t have any specialty saws here,” he said. “I do have a saw that goes down to a very fine point, but of course, this is fair week, so it decided not to work. Everything I’m doing here is with regular chainsaws, which you can go to Walmart and buy right off the shelf.”

Once the carvings are complete, Yurkunas paints and topcoats the statues, and they’re ready to go.

After eight years of sawing away some amazing pieces of art, Yurkunas still loves what he does, and always looks out for a challenge – in fact, the parrot statue that he carved on Thursday was a first attempt, and it came out beautifully.

“Eight years later, I’m always getting a little bit better at what I do. It’s a habit that has taken over my life, basically,” he said with a laugh.

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