Pop culture power: Whittle the Wood Stump 12’s Ken Braun puts film finesse into carvings
After a revolutionary chimpanzee and a villainous mishmash of aquatic nightmares picked him up awards the past two years, Ken Braun knew he had to find a way to top himself at the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Braun returned to cinematic inspiration for this year’s festival, crafting “Blue,” a depiction of the velociraptor of the same name from “Jurassic World,” picking up the $1,000 first place honor and People’s Choice and tying for Artist’s Choice.
The Montrose carver also dominated in 2018 with “Davy Jones,” the tentacled, crab-clawed, tragic figure from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise.
Braun placed third the year before that with “Caesar” from the reboot of “Planet of the Apes” films.
Braun almost went an entirely different direction this year as he considered trying his hand at recreating a carving he had already done of Groot from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which he had towering over his work station.
“I thought if I bring something, I can’t really do the same thing,” he said. “Maybe next year.”
Braun said it’s hard to pick a favorite, though given Blue’s snarl, claws and tail, he’s certainly proud of the features he was able to make.
Stump 1 — Nate Hall — “Mountain Migraine”; Rams butting heads
Stump 2 — Matt Ounsworth — “20 for 20”; Animal totem (Second place)
Stump 3 — Jim Valentine — “Buckshot Bill”; Cowboy
Stump 4 — Damon Gorecki — “Wood Haven”; Bench
Stump 5 — Justine Park — “Home of the Brave”; Skull with feathered headdress
Stump 6 — Joe Srholez — “Xing Yun (Lucky)”; Dragon
Stump 7 — Chad Stratton — “Long Ago”; Wooly mammoth
Stump 8 — Bongo Love — “The Sweet Life”; Hummingbirds (Third place)
Stump 9 — Robert Lyon — “Horse of Course”; Horse
Stump 10 — Robert Waits — The Lorax”; The Lorax (Artist’s Choice)
Stump 11 — Fernando Dulnuan — “The Lion of Judah”; Angel with lion and lamb
Stump 12 — Ken Braun — “Blue”; Velociraptor (First place, People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice)
The somewhat delicate nature of the winning carving resulted in a photo mishap with crowd members the day after Whittle the Wood, though Craig Parks and Recreation staff expect the damage will be easily fixed.
Braun said he has been humbled by the results of the past several years after taking a lengthy hiatus from competing at the event.
“Coming back to the show and doing what I want to do gives me a good break from my shop,” he said. “It went really smooth this year, but it went by too fast.”
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When you hear an unholy shriek or a cacophony of chest-pounding hundreds of feet high, you know you’re about to see something fantastic.