A local chainsaw artist made his buzzy debut on a new reality TV show last night.
Ashton Heights native Andrew Mallon is a contestant on the Discovery competition show “A Cut Above,” in which some of the best chainsaw wood carvers in the world compete against one another.
“The competition will test contestants’ artistry, stamina, and carving skills. Each week, the carvers will compete in Quick and Master Carve challenges while racing against the clock in hopes of avoiding elimination,” reads a description of the show. “At the end of the grueling twelve-week competition, the artist who out-carves the rest will win a cash prize and be named ‘A Cut Above.'”
Top chainsaw carvers from around the world will turn wood logs into jaw-dropping art on #ACutAbove⁰⁰ 🪵🪚
🗓 Competition begins this Sunday at 10p ET on Discovery pic.twitter.com/VQ3IgzAArd
— Discovery (@Discovery) September 26, 2022
The show debuted last night at 10 p.m. on the Discovery Channel and, yes, Mallon did make it to the next round, so he will continue to carve in the weeks ahead.
Mallon was contacted to be on the show a few years ago, pre-Covid, by the show’s producers, he told ARLnow. They shot the show earlier this year.
Mallon is known locally for his playful tree carving in Oak Grove Park near Washington-Liberty High School as well as carvings at a number of private residences in Arlington. That includes a bear, an owl, a dragon, and a scene from Greek mythology. He first started carving about a decade ago while working as a carpenter and remodeling houses in Arlington.
“And I just started whittling on pencils. From there, I learned [how] to do it,” Mallon told ARLnow. “Then, I started whittling on some pieces of wood. But I thought that it took too long and… really wanted to do it faster. And I saw some people on tv doing it with a chainsaw and thought ‘Hey, I could do that.'”
A majority of his work is commissioned by private citizens, including many Arlington residents, who have trees that may have fallen or died in their yards. He calls these “stump jobs” and they typically take about four days to complete.
Like a lot of wood carvers, Mallon often finds himself creating “critters” that live in the area like foxes, raccoons, owls, and hawks.
“You’d be surprised by how much detail I can get with a chainsaw,” he said. “I can put hair on a horse and fur on a bear.”
Recently, he’s been doing more “abstract” carvings — a style that has been more in vogue locally.
“I take it to another level where I carve it really far with a chainsaw and then I come back with a sander and sand it really smooth. It makes a lot of my pieces really elegant,” he said. “Most of what I use are large trees… it just lends itself to a beautiful product.”
For those who want to see the newly-minted television star in action, Mallon is currently working on a carving at a private residence near the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Monroe Street in his home neighborhood of Ashton Heights. He says folks are welcome to stop by to watch him work. Mallon is also in the midst of planning a potential new sculpture in Lyon Park.
For those who may want to take up the art of chainsaw wood carving, Mallon’s advice is to “just go for it.”
“Chainsaw is just another tool in the hand,” he said. “Just learn the rules of the tool and… give it a shot.”
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