Ed Crow is an engineer. He spends his day with numbers and straight lines and absolutes.
But give him a chain saw and all of that changes. When he picks up a power tool, he becomes an artist.
“There is additive art and subtractive art,” he said.
With additive art, like painting, artists apply one medium to another to create the vision they have in their head. Crow, 57, of State College, says for sculptors like him, the process is different.
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“You go up to a log. The log speaks to you. It says, ‘I’m a fish. Please free me,’” Crow said.
Fish are one of Crow’s specialties. His logs often contain trout, like those in the streams of Central Pennsylvania, or salmon, like the ones in the waters around his native Seattle.
There are apparently also a lot of birds trapped in local logs. Eagles and owls are another favorite subject. Crow uses his powerful saw to etch delicate feathers into chunks of pine.
“When I do an owl, I always look for a perch of some sort,” he said, a knot, or the nub of a branch, possible examples. “I just use the natural features.”
Crow has been wielding his chain saw like a paintbrush for about eight years, along with his sister, Anne Crow, of Seattle.
It started when his wife gave him a Christmas present: tickets for Anne to come for a visit. He questioned it, saying he would rather go out to Seattle to visit there. His wife said no: There was more to it than that. They were visiting the annual Chain saw Carvers Rendezvous in Ridgway, one of the largest gatherings of chain saw artists in the country. The weeklong event features educational programs for those interested in learning to carve as an art form and those looking to turn their passion into a profession.
Eight years later, Crow helps organize those sessions.
But he doesn’t do it because he wants the money. Well, he does, but not for himself.
“Our needs are met. I do it for the fun of it,” Crow said.
What he does use the income from his sculptures for is to make other people’s lives better.
“My wife and I use it for charities,” he said.
For years, that has meant supporting the Rose of Sharon Orphanage in the Dominican Republic. More recently, however, they have put some to work closer to home, trying to help those displaced from the trailer parks closing in the Centre Region, he said.
Crow invites people to contact him through his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/CrowsCarvings.