SOUTHINGTON — A grizzly bear is taking shape at an East Street home as chain saw carver Jared Welcome works on what remains of a large oak tree.
The Hamden resident, a part-time carver, said his goal is to be the best in the state.
On Monday, Welcome’s chain saw roared and chips flew as he formed the bear’s legs and feet from the 15-foot tall tree trunk. When finished, the bear will be standing on its hind legs atop the lower portion of the trunk carved to look like stones. With this work, there’s no room for errors.
“You get one shot,” Welcome said. “I love the pressure of it.”
East Street residents Katie and Michael Spalter said they saw Welcome’s work at the Durham Fair and asked him to create a realistic and mean-looking grizzly bear from the remainder of a tree in their front yard. The oak had been cut down as part of Eversource’s tree-trimming work near power lines.
Katie Spalter and Welcome got honks and thumbs up from passing motorists who shouted encouragement driving down East Street.
“It’s really cool, he’s doing a great job,” Katie Spalter said.
She’s seen black bears in her yard.
Welcome said he’ll spend more than seven full days carving, staining and painting the sculpture. The East Street commission cost about $2,000 but Welcome said he’s more concerned about improving his skills and making the carving perfect for the customer.
Five years ago, Welcome was a public school teacher off for the summer. He came across a television show about chain saw carving and despite having no artistic training gave it a try. He carved his first bear with an old chain saw.
“I threw it up on Craigslist and somebody bought it right away,” Welcome said.
Welcome is still a teacher and isn’t looking for his business, Jarebears Carvings, to become a full-time gig. But he said over the last year he’s gotten more and more calls.
“I’m booked to next May,” Welcome said.
He’s glad for customers like the Spalters and said they’ve been great to work for.
“They appreciate art,” he said. “I’m just glad they’re able to reuse the tree.”
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