Carving Lasting Images

When Russ Fox turned 30, his life took an unexpected turn, and it all started with a dying apple tree in his backyard. This tree, once full of life and vibrant apples, was now a withering stump, an eyesore to some but a spark of inspiration for Russ. One day, he decided to buy a chainsaw and see what could be made of this dying apple tree. Little did he know that this decision would unlock a new passion and talent that he would share with his friends, family, and community.

As Russ stood before the stump, he didn’t just see dead wood; he saw potential. In his mind’s eye, the rough bark and twisted branches transformed into a bear with its arms raised high. Fueled by this vision, he fired up his chainsaw and began to carve. The process was intense, with each cut bringing the bear closer to life. When the final touches were made, Russ placed a hockey stick in the bear’s arms, giving it a playful and unique character. “It turned out so cool,” Russ said. “I decided to continue creating other carvings for myself, family, and loved ones.” With that Russ’s journey into wood carving had begun, and each new project was a testament to his creativity and dedication. He quickly learned that each log and stump held its own story, and it was his job to uncover it. “When I’m carving something unique, I really have to look at the log and imagine what I’m going to create,” Russ explained. “I think about how to best utilize what there is to work with before I even start. Once this process is done, I start to cut away until the vision in my mind comes to life and is completed.”

Among his many creations, Russ holds a special fondness for two pieces in particular: a Denver Broncos bust he made for himself, and a Minnesota Vikings bust for his great friends. These carvings were more than just art; they were personal tributes, combining his love for sports with his newfound skill. “My favorite carvings that I’ve ever made were the Denver Bronco bust for myself, and a Minnesota Vikings bust for my great friends,” Russ shared proudly.

During Russ’s career with Nunn, which began on March 24th, 2020, he faced the unique challenges of starting a new job right at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these unprecedented times, Russ demonstrated remarkable resilience and dedication. Initially joining Nunn Construction as a Carpenter Apprentice, he quickly displayed his skills and commitment, earning a promotion to Carpenter just a month later. Russ’s journey of growth did not stop there though. In October 2021, his hard work and leadership abilities led to another well-deserved promotion, this time to Carpenter Foreman – a title he proudly holds with Nunn today.

One Saturday, while working at the Colorado State University – Pueblo (CSU-P) Technology Building’s jobsite, the crew was tasked with cutting down an old dead tree near the building. Russ saw an opportunity in the tree stump and proposed an idea to his superintendent, Travis Fry. “I believed I could make a wolf bust out of the stump if we could just leave it in the ground instead of cutting it down,” Russ recounted. Intrigued, Travis Fry agreed to let Russ take a stab at it. It took Russ several days to complete the wolf bust, each stroke of the chainsaw revealing more of the unique take on the CSU-P’s Timberwolves mascot that he envisioned. Russ’s talent and skill didn’t go unnoticed. When it was finally done, the school board was so impressed that they had a bronze plaque made in his honor, placed next to the beautiful carving. This recognition was a testament to Russ’s skill and the impact of his art on the community.

Wood carving has taught Russ more than just how to shape wood; it taught him about life. “One thing that creating carvings has taught me is that everything doesn’t have to be perfect and with a fine finish,” Russ reflected. “Sometimes the rustic and rough character is what makes it great. It opened my eyes and mind to a whole new world of creations.” This philosophy extended beyond his art, influencing how he approached challenges and opportunities in his life as well as his career in construction. Respecting the power of his tools was another crucial lesson. “Carving has really taught me how to respect a power tool that demands respect for safety,” Russ emphasized. Handling a chainsaw required not just skill, but a deep understanding of its potential for both creation and destruction. This respect for his tools translated into a respect for his craft and the natural materials he works with.

Wood carving is more than a hobby for Russ; it’s a way to connect with his loved ones. “I feel so blessed to have learned this art so that I can share my own art with my great friends, family, and loved ones,” Russ said. Each piece he creates is a gift, a symbol of his love and appreciation. The joy it brings to others, the smiles and admiration, fuel his passion and drive him to keep carving.

From a dying apple tree to a celebrated wolf bust at a CSUP, Russ’s journey in wood carving is a story of discovery, creativity, and connection. What began as a simple experiment with a chainsaw has grown into a lifelong passion, enriching his life and the lives of those around him. Through each carving, Russ shares a piece of himself, leaving a lasting legacy in the wood and hearts alike.

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