"All the Rage: Turning Dead Wood Into Custom Artwork"
Brandon Messex creates bears, eagles, wizards and abstract
pieces for Valley residences.
By Christie Chalmers
A Gardnerville man's Chainsaw Rage is giving new life to old
trees around the Carson Valley. Though the name of his business
doesn't seem to fit the sweet-faced bears, wizard, crane- fish
combination and other abstract carvings that are starting to
show up in the area, Brandon Messex thinks he's found a niche.
"It's slowly but surely picking up,"said the 28-year-old
former Marine. "If you name it, I can carve it. There's
been nothing I can't do so far." Motorists on Gilman Avenue
may have noticed the eagle-bear combination that bears Messex's
phone number rooted in the lawn of a duplex on the south side
of the road near Cottonwood Slough. He moved to the area from
North Carolina a month ago, and Messex says he's done a handful
of carvings since then.
He's hoping to turn the craft into a full-time job. He spent
Wednesday at a house on Foothill Road, turning one tree stump
into a bear and another into a crane clutching a fish. Both
sculptures were completed in a day. "Toward to the end
it goes really fast,"said gardnerville resident Chris Gableman,
who was helping Messex. "Once you know what it is, you
can see it easier."
The wings of the Foothill road crane emerged after 20 minutes
of carving and chipping, and what had been one remaining branch
morphed into a faceless head on a long neck. Messex determined
the design with little more than a directive for "nothing
gory" from the home's owner, Priscilla Hartwell. "She
didn't want anything gory but it would have made a nice Grim
Reaper," he said, laughing. Hartwell was pleased with the
work."What a way to preserve a tree," she said.
A photo album full of Messex's work includes pink wooden flamingos,
gnomes, all kinds of animals, totem poles, masks, even a whiskey
bottle. The flamingos were in high demand in Florida where Messex
also previously worked.
"A real popular one is mermaids with no shirt on,"
Messex noted. "A lot of doctors order that one for their
backyard pools. I made one and the guy didn't pick it up, so
I had it in front of my shop (in Florida)," he mused. "We
started getting complaints. I had to put a swimsuit top on her."
Messex has no formal training and first picked up a chainsaw
in 1997, after deciding he could do what a rather rude carver
was doing. "Everybody asks, 'did you ever do this before?'"
said Messex. "It's funny. Everything I didn't ever try
to learn kind of came into the picture here."