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Josh Dagg, an artist from Aylmer, has been carving with a chainsaw full-time for the past six years. [Photo @ Steven Marchand]

Chainsaws and cheer: A day with an outdoor wood carver at Winterlude

Being an artist takes discipline. That’s certainly the case for Josh Dagg, who has no set schedule and no boss, but he’s dedicated to a craft he loves.

Dagg left his construction job six years ago. He now spends his days carving statues, tables, and animals out of large logs and tree stumps using a chainsaw and other tools.

For the second year in a row, Dagg has been presenting demonstrations of his work in Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau as part of Winterlude. Dagg often carves three or four pieces while visitors, young and old, look on. Dagg is at Jacques Cartier Park this weekend including Feb. 18.

Every morning, Joshua Dagg hauls his tools on a sled from his truck, through the Winterlude festivities to his carving site in the middle of Jacques Cartier Park. On this day, a small audience had already assembled, admiring some of his past work. [Photo © Steven Marchand]
Dagg has been a professional woodcarver for six years, showcasing his work at Winterlude for the past two. “[Sculpting has always] appealed to me,” he says. “I’ve always liked art.” [Photo © Steven Marchand]
Dagg makes his first cut into a log. All of his pieces, no matter how elaborate, are carved from a single piece of wood. Two of his favourite woods to carve are Butternut and Russian Olive, because of their soft texture. [Photo © Meaghan Brackenbury]
Dagg takes a moment to refill his specially designed carving chainsaw with some gas. It’s only been five minutes, but people are drawn to the noise of his chainsaw. [Photo © Meaghan Brackenbury]
The barrier around Dagg’s carving site is quickly surrounded. While he appreciates the attention, he says he’s sometimes too absorbed to acknowledge them.
“To be honest, half the time I don’t even notice that people are there when I’m really into my work,” he says. [Photo © Steven Marchand]
Wood chips fly as Dagg makes long, sweeping cuts, laying the foundation of his piece. Within about ten minutes, it starts to take shape. [Photo © Steven Marchand]
Dagg’s cuts become shorter and more precise, as the face of an animal emerges from the wood. (Photo © Steven Marchand)
Many stroll past Dagg on their way to a large bonfire nearby, but not these children. They’re braving the elements as they await the final product. [Photo © Meaghan Brackenbury]
Forty minutes have elapsed, and Dagg’s progress is now clear to see: A furry bear standing on its hind legs. Dagg’s quick work is thanks to his experience as a competitive carver. He has competed for Canada in England and Scotland. [Photo © Meaghan Brackenbury]
Dagg exchanges his chainsaw for this small drill, which he uses to carve finer details such as the bear’s eyes, nostrils and mouth. (Photo © Meaghan Brackenbury)
Finally, Dagg uses a blowtorch to lightly char the outside of the body, giving the bear a dark colour and furry texture. [Photo © Steven Marchand]
One hour later, the carving is finished. Asking price: $300. He made three the day before and he was going to carve two more before heading home. [Photo © Steven Marchand]
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