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Smokey Bear

One woman’s passion leads to unique tree art
This is just an example of what can be accomplished when vision and talent are combined. From left are Smokey Bear and his pals, artisan and woodcarver Rick Sylvester and homeowners Debbie and Dan Amacker as they stand next to what just a few weeks ago was a 24-foot tall Sugar Pine stump. What a difference. Photosby Gregg Scott

What would you do if you had been visiting Lake Almanor for a decade or so and decided you wanted to be able to come more often and stay longer?

Rhetorical question, right? You would probably decide to purchase a home in the area to fill all those needs.

So you find a place you like and then you realize you will need to deal with one more little situation having to do with a dead sugar pine tree in the front yard that is close to 200 feet tall and over 60 inches in diameter.

Do you have someone cut it down and haul it away? No, that’s going to leave a huge vacant spot out front except for an ugly stump.

Well, this was the very dilemma that Dan Amacker and his wife Debbie Ryan-Amacker were faced with when they purchased their new home on Timber Ridge Road in the Lake Almanor Country Club last September.

The upside is that the Amackers are, as they say, “Smarter than the average bear.” In fact it might be said that Debbie is a lifelong lover of bears.

At least she is a lifelong lover of Smokey Bear and has quite a collection of Smokey Bear memorabilia, including some vintage photos and poster art.

With the couple also being familiar with the work of Rick Sylvester, local artisan and owner of Sierra Taxidermy and Custom Wood Carving, it didn’t take long for them to decide that a work of art would be just what that otherwise vacant spot needed.

Dilemma solved! The tree was brought down, except for about 24 feet and Sylvester was provided with one of Debbie’s favorite poster art pictures as a blueprint of her vision.

Over roughly 100 hours during roughly three-and-a-half weeks the project was completed and the couple said the finished product goes beyond their imaginations.

Sylvester explained that probably 80 to 85 percent of the project was removing massive amounts of wood from the bole of the tree in order to release the basic images along with the inner tree.

That’s the one Smokey is holding on to. To accomplish this he used three different chain saws with various chain configurations.

Then came numerous smaller hand tools including an angle grinder for the final shaping and texturing.

He also noted that most of the bark appearance created on the ‘inner tree’ was accomplished with a router bit so he could almost draw it to match the poster art photo.

In the spirit of full disclosure it was also noted that Sylvester did not carve the shovel in Smokey’s hand. Even with over 18 years of experience he decided that carving a true to life shovel might not be his forte.

To protect the colors and wood surfaces for the weather he used ProLuxe sealer for log homes.

Sierra Taxidermy and Custom Wood Carving

Owner: Rick Sylvester

Services: Custom wood carving and taxidermy

Phone: 258-7531

E-mail: sierrataxidermy@ aol.com

Available by appointment

Online: Sierra Taxidermy and Custom Wood Carving

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