Top Add

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tree Carver, World Famous World Champion

One thing I noticed when I moved to the Mountains of North Carolina.  No matter where you went there was someone carving a bear out of a log with a chainsaw. 


Carvings Bears is apparently big business.  I'm pretty sure that wooden bears outnumber actual bears 10 to one.

Of course in every art form there can only be one king.  In the world of chainsaw art that man goes by the name "Tree Carver".  If you doubt his claim, just talk to him for 10 minutes.

NOT MY PHOTO
 I met Tree Carver (Not his real name of course) while working at a local hotel.  Tree would spend weeks at a time staying at the hotel, despite stating he had a home very near.  He told me he had a pet wolf that he kept in his van, but I never saw him.  Tree enjoyed stopping in the lobby and chatting. 

I don't know how many times he told me "You know I am world famous, right?"  Tree told me he was three time world chainsaw carving champion.  Tree also asserted that he won the world ice carving championship in Alaska despite never having done ice carving before.  He claimed to have done commissioned work for a long list of famous people including Elvis Presley.  Several nights he showed up to tell me how he was working on a project for George Clooney who had recently purchased a house in the area.  He showed me his call log on his cell phone which included calls labeled "George".   He claimed to have millions of dollars in the bank.

He would always bring in photocopies of local newspapers that featured stories about the work he was currently doing.  He had a gallery on the side of the road that displayed some of his work.  The centerpiece was a work-in-progress giant wooden Indian.  At the time he was also in the paper for creating a giant wooden Scotsman for a local country club.

Tree would show up after work and tell tales of how he told off the annoying country club manager.  Tree said he told him that if he ever spoke to him again he would not finish the Scotsman.

The manager of the hotel had told me that Tree could no longer stay at the hotel unless he caught up on his bill.  He had a habit of coming and going without paying.  When I told Tree about this.  He was furious.  "Does she know who I am?"  He growled.  "I have millions of dollars I could buy this place."

Every night at the hotel we would put out plates of cheese and complimentary wine for the guests.  Tree was a huge fan of the wine and would always stand by the sit and chug a few glasses.

One Christmas Eve Tree sat in the lobby for hours.  He guzzled wine.  Through his purple lips he muttered about being made to pay his bill.  "How could she insult me like this?"  Tree complained, he had become totally fixated on the fact that he had been made to pay for his room in advance (which was a policy that applied to all guests).   Tree continued to drink wine as night grew late.  I was wanting to close up for the night, but I couldn't tell a guest to leave.  I started getting slightly irritated as I wanted to go home and spend Christmas with my family.

Finally, Tree stood up.  "I may have millions of dollars in the bank," he said, "but I am spending Christmas Eve in a hotel room.  You are a luckier man then me."  Tree went back to his room.  I left the hotel shortly afterwards and never saw Tree again.

His roadside art display vanished leaving only the half finished Indian behind, pushed over and abandoned in the bushes.


I did find another display of his in Cashiers a few years back, proudly pronouncing him as 3 time world champion, but tree was nowhere to be found.


I have searched for information on Tree on the internet and come up with very little.  As far as I can tell there is no World Chainsaw Championship.  I did find and online message board for the "United Chainsaw Carvers Guild", where they discussed Tree briefly.  Some backed up his claims, while others stated that he was unstable and rude.  One person claimed that Tree was now living in his van.

What I can confirm was that Tree was commissioned to create a Giant Wood Carving of Sir Walter Raleigh, which depending on who you ask was listed in an edition of Guinness World Records as the World's Largest Wooden Sculpture.  Apparently, it was set to stay at a mall in Charlotte, but Tree had a falling out with the management and moved it to Manteo, NC.  No information on whether or not the statue still exist. 

I don't know if everything he said was true and he was probably the least humble person I ever met, but he had a larger then life personality and that is something I can always appreciate.

The Carpetbagger

Please feel free to e-mail me at jacobthecarpetbagger@gmail.com
and check out my Flickr Photostream

14 comments:

  1. I met tree in Tok, Ak. In hmmmm 1994? Or so. He came through my dads restaurant the Gateway Salmon bake. He stayed for several days in his way to the Ice Carving contest in Fairbanks that year. He stayed long enough to carve a wolf out of a good sized log. My dad still has it at his house in Az now. I concure with your statement...larger than life..but a big talker for sure

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's a very talented man, but his mouth is way bigger :)

      Delete
  2. Greetings:
    @ Jacob: Why waste time with negative comments?
    Yes, Tree is a boastful person, but he can back up his mouth with a multitude of truly magnificent creations.
    Will You please share with us some of Your carving masterpieces?
    Here is a link to what Tree Carver RKH is doing today.
    Carving Post Forum: 'Tree Carver' RK Harniman Surfaces - Again Lending a Helping Saw
    http://www.network54.com/Forum/118564/thread/1409511670/last-1409511670/%27Tree+Carver%27+RK+Harniman+Surfaces+-+Again+Lending+a+Helping+Saw

    With great respect,
    thorfourwinds@thelivingmoon.com
    Peace Love Light
    Liberty & Equality or Revolution


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No negativity here, just fascination with an interesting character

      Delete
  3. i have read your post. thank's for sharing. STIHL chain saw is one of the best chain saw available in the market today. It's the choice of most tree service company.
    chainsaw

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tree is alive and well in Clayton, GA. Still looking for somewhere to "park his millions", tipping with coins, telling stories only a Kennedy would have, and evidently has not bathed or laundered for a week. I saw cell phone pictures of the yacht (pretty sure it was the Constellation), race car, and the $1,900,000 check. Perhaps mentally damaged, maybe a millionaire, possibly a pure "out of touch" artist, although not apparently a con man. Either way, if you run into him you will be entertained until you tire of it and resist the urge to tell him to F%#* O&$. But, alas, that does not even work. You go Tree. Maybe you should run for office. Carve on!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Tree is alive and well in Clayton, GA. Still looking for somewhere to "park his millions", tipping with coins, telling stories only a Kennedy would have, and evidently has not bathed or laundered for a week. I saw cell phone pictures of the yacht (pretty sure it was the Constellation), race car, and the $1,900,000 check. Perhaps mentally damaged, maybe a millionaire, possibly a pure "out of touch" artist, although not apparently a con man. Either way, if you run into him you will be entertained until you tire of it and resist the urge to tell him to F%#* O&$. But, alas, that does not even work. You go Tree. Maybe you should run for office. Carve on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear that Tree is still Tree :)

      Delete
  6. I'm currently trying to help him with a project

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tree is an old family friend and I've been trying to track him down for some time. If anyone knows where he is I would much appreciate some info. If you talk to him tell him Glen W. from NC is looking for him.

      Delete
    2. Do you know how to get in touch with Tree?

      Delete
    3. Of course.
      He still has that 828 number.
      Is this Glen from the sawmill that I met with Tree?
      This is Thor of OPERATIONS TREE DISASTER RELIEF TEAM - the good guys in the red T-shirts.
      thorfourwinds@thelivingmoon.com
      706-782-7465 home

      Delete
    4. Saw a newspaper article on the Asheville VA bulletin board...took a picture but no way to upload it...

      Delete
  7. Ne of article is Highlands Carver sculpts eagle for veterans. Byline is Jessica Richardson....no newspaper name but handwritten phone numbers of 828-236-9305 and 706-982-9795...

    ReplyDelete