/Rich Hevesi carves wood into art
While detailed wildlife sculptures and custom creations are popular pieces for artist Rich Hevesi of Breakthru Designs, he said he sells hundreds of chainsaw-carved pumpkins a year – even in the summer. /Submitted photo

Rich Hevesi carves wood into art

By Sue Tiffin

Seven years ago, Rich Hevesi decided to get away from his desk job as a web developer and instead, picked up a chainsaw. Now, the full-time chainsaw carver and founder of Breakthru Designs carves year-round and is booking custom orders of detailed pieces into next year. 

“I just kind of got sick and tired of sitting in front of the computer,” Hevesi laughs. “I’m comfortable with a chainsaw, I’m artsy, I thought, I can do this! And started! Why not?”

Hevesi had only used a chainsaw really to cut firewood when he saw someone demonstrating chainsaw carving on television and began practicing. He credits that effort for his skills improving, acknowledging that his first designs lacked detail compared to what he can do now.

“Practice, practice,” he said. “The online community for the carvers is actually really good. Everyone’s willing to help and share their experiences and what not. It is more just, keep doing it, try to better yourself and if you’re not improving you’re going backwards in my opinion. I just try to better myself. I follow some of the top carvers in the world, get inspired, and try to duplicate what they’re doing.”

Hevesi uses softwood, most of it white pine, which he sources from local loggers. 

“Pretty much everything’s white pine,” he said. “It holds up well, it’s nice to work with and it’s the wood of choice.”

He doesn’t draw a design first, and rarely sketches out his plan on the wood itself, instead getting right to it – noise-cancelling headphones in place – with his tools, including about a dozen saws, dremel tools and grinders and different sanders.

Hevesi uses battery-operated tools, and keeps replacements nearby in case the one he’s using breaks. /Submitted photo

“There’s risks, but you’ve just got to be careful and know your tools,” he said. “Get help from some other folks, and go from there.”

From owls to black bears, bees and a seven-foot horse bust, benches with initials and wedding dates inscribed in their side and not one, but two hippopotamus coffee tables, Hevesi loves the challenge of creating what is requested, with customers driving from Ottawa, Sudbury, and out east to see his work. 

About three years ago, a friend suggested he carve some pumpkins from wood, designing each with a unique face.

“So I did half a dozen, and boom, sold,” said Hevesi. “The next year, you do 50 to 100 of them – sold. And then this year I started carving them in the wintertime, just when you have a bit of a lapse … and by July, I had a whole bunch of them. I posted them – but I didn’t think anyone would buy pumpkins in the middle of the summer. I sold 50 or 60 pumpkins in July.”

This year alone, he’s sold more than 300 pumpkins. 

Chainsaw-carved pumpkins are a huge seller for artist Rich Hevesi, who operates a shop out of his home near Carnarvon. /Submitted photo

Hevesi works regular hours, either carving or painting and staining when the carving itself becomes physically tiring.

“Seven days a week, and it’s fun,” he said. “When it’s something you like, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s diametrically opposite from sitting in front of the computer, and I love it. I’m dirty and covered in sawdust and it’s great.” 

For more information visit http://www.breakthrudesigns.ca, email rich.hevesi@gmail.com or call 705-286-0888.