Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Chain saw artist takes logs and turns them into masterpieces

Bussard is at the Washington County Fair all week
Jul 19, 2018
Photo by: John Butters Dave “Dusty” Bussard stops his chain saw for a moment to pose for a photo. Bussard, known as a chain saw artist, takes logs of wood and turns them into masterpieces. Bussard can be found at the Washington County Fair all week.

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


Dave “Dusty” Bussard found his calling by accident.

Three years ago, his West Des Moines neighbor had asked for help removing a fallen tree. “So I took my chain saw over to his place and cut up his tree. When he saw the stump, he asked if I could carve it into a mushroom,” Bussard said. “I said sure.”

In the days and weeks that followed, Bussard watched people stop and stare at the new mushroom in his neighbor’s yard. When they started taking photos, he realized he hadn’t just carved a mushroom; he had created a chain saw work of art.

“I realized there was a market for this work. So I started carving some figures and they began to sell,” he said.

Three years later, “Dusty Buzzard Chainsaw Carving” is still turning wood into art and building a large following by taking it on the road to Iowa’s county fairs and festivals. He’s at the Washington County Fair this week, doing several carving demonstrations each day. Under a nearby awning, he keeps a large display of carvings that are for sale.

Bussard prefers sculpting on commission and would rather do custom art in his workshop. But like many folk artists, he is willing to follow the crowd. “Traveling is a lot of work. There is a lot of set up involved. But I enjoy meeting people and talking with them and it gives my business a lot of exposure,” he said.

Like other sculptors, Bussard takes away everything that isn’t “a bear” leaving only the image he sees within the wood. His preferred material is white pine. “It’s a soft wood and very forgiving. But the harder woods hold more detail,” he said.

His custom work includes memorials for loved ones. “I get a lot of requests for carving something that has meaning for the family. Those carvings become special to me,” he said. “Last summer I did a carving for a community that wanted a memorial to its Civil War veterans.”

When a carving is finished, Bussard sands it and applies an oil for a natural finish or paint, according to the creation. It can take a long time for a work to dry.

For non-commissioned work, Bussard has learned from experience which items are the most marketable. He also encounters the same problem most artists face when attempting to sell their work. “It’s the life of a carver. Bears and eagles sell the best. People will see something they really like and they want to buy it, but they don’t want to pay the asking price. They think it ought to cost less,” he said.

Dusty Buzzard Chainsaw Carving has a presence on the web at www.dustybuzzardchainsawcarving.com.

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