'Sometimes I get tired from carving bears'

'Sometimes I get tired from carving bears'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Chipped wood is what Kevin Strauslin sees every day. It is a byproduct of his work. Strauslin is a wood artist and has a workshop in Eugene. 

“I once saw a couple of things in a magazine,” he said of how he began his livelihood of wood carving, “so I went and grabbed some chisels and started chiseling some stuff.”

Today, Strauslin is a professional carver and even enjoys participating in competitions.

Art can make you rich. This applies at least to a friend of Kevin Strauslin. The wood carver sold a big horses-statue to actor John Travolta and earned over $200,000, Strauslin said. He, too, dreams of creating a wooden masterpiece. “It should be something that enhances the world,” he said.

But even if Strauslin dreams of carving something extraordinary, the daily work and revenues are often produced by his most popular wood carving: The Bear.

You can see some examples outside of his shop on Highway 99 in Eugene. They come in many sizes from cute little bear cub statues to large grizzlies.

Within seconds Kevin Strauslin carves the face of a bear out of wood. A bigger bear statue takes about half a day, according to the carver.

“Sometimes I get tired from carving bears,” Strauslin said.

He enjoys challenges: “I like it when people come in and give me something really hard to do.”

And he likes competitions. At the Reedsport Divisional Chainsaw Competition in 2009, Strauslin won 4th place in the Semi-Pro Division with a huge wooden Bigfoot.

Big dark logs lay around behind the workshop. He and his 17-year-old son Tyler get most of it from mills, but they also get some of their supply from out in their large yard.

But just how do they manage to carve out a dragonfly from just a block of wood?

“We have probably every tool you can think of,” Strauslin said. “We got one of everything and use them a lot.”

Nevertheless, the preferred tool by the father and son duo is the chain saw, and the roaring sounds they produce are part of everyday work.

Strauslin said that at times, he gets tired of carving bears -- not to say he doesn’t love his job; he believes that this trade was meant for him to do.

He also has another goal: To have one of his wooden creations showcased in a museum someday.