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Chainsaw sculpture: Gandalf and Smaug emerge in a North End front yard

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on Nov. 13, 2012 at 9:00 am |
November 13, 2012 9:00 am
Bruce Thorsteinson, "Gandalf and Smaug." Photo: Rosemary Ponnekanti

“The Hobbit” might not be released in cinemas yet, but Gandalf the wizard and Smaug his fire-breathing adversary are already here in Tacoma’s North End, courtesy of a 10-foot fir stump and a creative chainsaw sculptor.

Finished just two days ago, the sculpture of a bearded wizard battling a coiled, spiny dragon wreathes around the tall stump of a tree left behind in Ross Barde’s front yard at North 11th and Anderson Streets when a too-tall fir came down this summer.

“I knew I wanted something, so I asked my brother to save some (when he cut it down),” says Barde. The neighbours were also concerned about where Barde would put his Christmas lights, now that the tree was gone.

Enter chainsaw carver Bruce “Thor” Thorsteinson, an Auburn native and third-generation Icelandic American artist who has been carving for 16 years now. Barde knew of him through a friend and commissioned a wizard-dragon combination for his front-yard stump. The work took eight solid days.

Bruce Thorsteinson, "Gandalf and Smaug," detail. Photo: Rosemary POnnekanti

The result, neighbors agree, is magnificent. The stumpy-legged (pardon the pun) wizard has a rather terrified look despite his sword and hip-flask, but that’s understandable given there’s a fiercely singed dragon hunched over his head, whose sharp spikes trail all the way to the ground, where he’s quashing Hawaiian-inspired gremlins under his claws. The detail is impressive, the folks of cloak and wing very lifelike.

“Every time I look at it I just say, wow,” Barde says. “And people just stop and stare, and take pictures.”

The Christmas lights aren’t a problem, either: Inspired by his Hobbit-sculpture, Barde intends to create a river of blue lights along the grass and shine a spot on the carving. He’s also added a Norse-style totem pole and wishing-well to complete the look.

And the price” $1,000, give or take – quite the bargain for an all-powerful wizard and a gold-loaded dragon.

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