Woodcarving Since 1976: A Legacy of Artistry
Preserving Tradition and Innovation in the Craft of Woodcarving
Our story began in the late 1960s when Ray Kowalski owned a small store in Seal Rock, a charming coastal town in Oregon. Ray was looking for a way to attract customers to his store off of the busy coastal highway 101. One day, he came across an article in National Geographic that sparked an idea. He was given a couple of logs, and with his talent and ingenuity, he carved a large tiki to put up in front of the store. At that time, chainsaw carving was unheard of. But it wasn't long until someone offered to buy it. Ray carved another, and it sold too. He had a niche for carving animated characters and making people smile.
With his newfound success, Ray sold the store and bought a piece of land about ½ mile up the highway 101. He built a workshop on it and began carving full time. By the mid-1970s, he had become an attraction in and of himself, carving life-size statues along US 101 in Seal Rock, catching the attention of thousands of motorists passing through who stopped to marvel at the craftsmanship. He opened an amusement park on several acres behind the shop that featured an old west town, trails, ponds, and carvings to complement all of it. Thousands of tourists would attend every year.
With all of that going on, Ray also hit the highway on a mission to sell his carvings. He would travel the country pulling a big open box trailer with lifesized statues for anyone on the road to see. He gained lots of attention and found himself on the covers of newspapers, including Star magazine, to local papers in Southern California, Indiana, Tennessee, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.
By the late 1980s, Ray had become established as a national and international artist, and his statues could be found on permanent rotation at galleries. The sincerest form of flattery, Ray gained the moniker of "the fastest chainsaw in the West," and his works found their way into the collections of the rich and famous, such as Willie Nelson, Neil Diamond, Dolly Parton, and the late President Ronald Reagan.
Ray carved for decades, and he passed his tradition and skill down to each of his sons: Karl, Toby, and Jason. Karl has been carving for nearly 40 years and has specialized in bear carvings, but he's also created a variety of sea captains, cowboys, moose, and more, even crafting occasional log furniture. Now in its third generation, since 2012, Karl's nephew Justin has worked alongside him, learning the same techniques and skills that have been passed down over the years. Together, they practice old techniques and create new ones for future generations.
Today, the business offers a large selection of products and services, ranging from bears, cowboys, sea captains, owls, moose, fish, Bigfoot, to custom laser engraving, wooden jewelry, and log furniture to the public and a vast selection of retailers We take pride in everything being handmade in the USA, and that will never change. We are honored to continue Ray's legacy of creating unique and quality wooden sculptures that bring joy to people's lives.
Rustlers and Wranglers
"If you want to be a cowboy, you gotta learn to ride a horse, shoot a gun, and drink whiskey." - Unknown
Have you heard about Ray's incredible wooden car? It may sound unbelievable, but it was street legal! In fact, Ray used to make frequent trips to town in it, turning heads and drawing curious stares wherever he went. Can you imagine driving a car made entirely out of wood?
Although the amusement park may no longer exist, its legacy lives on in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to experience its wonder and magic. The memories of family fun, adventurous trails, and remarkable carvings still warm the souls of many. Even after all these years, visitors from all over the world stop by our workshop, eager to hear stories of the park's past and to take home a piece of its history in the form of a handcrafted carving.