In The Studio | Featured Artist

Karen Sue Dill

Hi there and welcome back to my Featured Artist blog. Last month I put out a call to area artist from White County, Indiana on Facebook and got quite a few responses! I still have some open slots left for White County, Indiana 2-D and 3-D artist as well as artisans/makers. Contact me if you’d like to be featured.

Does the name (Karen) Sue Dill sound familiar to you? Although Sue has spent a great deal of her life in Delphi and Lafayette Indiana areas, her connection to White County is that she was a North White Jr. and Sr. High School art teacher starting in 1998 until she retired in 2015 due to an issue involving her voice. While at North White in addition to teaching her students about art history, 2-D and 3-D art and exhibiting her students work locally and regionally she served as the Art Department Chairman.

Before Sue was an art teacher she was a homemaker and helped her husband farm. In her spare time Sue was a self-taught ceramicist as well as a wood carver. She fell in love with woodcarving after a trip to Branson, Missouri and saw the carvings created by Bob Robertson. You can read her story about this HERE

  • The Fur Trader Walnut 16" tall x 5" base NFS
  • Walnut 16" tall x 5" base NFS
  • Catching A Ride - Terra Cotta Clay and Paper clay lid, Acrylic finish $175.00
  • Catching A Ride Terra Cotta Clay Base and Paper clay lid, Acrylic finish $175.00
  • Catching A Ride $175.00

Also during this time, she was selling her ceramic work at a shop in Lafayette as well as competing in several wood carving venues where she won some major awards. After winning monetary awards for her work, she was no longer able to compete at amateur status. As a result, she felt that further education was needed to be able to be competitive with people who had art degrees.

Sue applied to Purdue University and was accepted into the Fine Arts program where she became extremely interested in Art Education. While working on a double major with a B.A. in Fine Arts and Art Education she was named Outstanding Senior in Art Education and awarded the Ralf Beelke Memorial Award for Excellence. Additionally, her work was published in a Purdue publication. After college she went on to teaching.

When Sue retired from teaching she became a self-employed professional free-lance artist creating commissioned work as well pursuing her own designs. Even though she is accomplished in all types of art media such as drawing, painting, print making, ceramics and wood carving Karen is especially drawn to 3-D work and likes to create sculptures inspired by what she sees, especially in nature.

Because she found wood carving somewhat limiting in what she could create Sue began working with other mediums and found that by using recycled paper, paper clay, cardboard and other nonconventional materials and techniques she got the results she was looking for. Sue has named this new body of work “Pulp Fiction Creations” which largely features animals.

This series has become an obsession inspired by the elusive beauty and wonder of Mother Nature. As an artist, I am compelled and inspired by these creatures, and beings, large and small, to recreate them as seen through my own eyes. I do this to honor them while at the same time allowing them their freedom to exist unfettered and unharmed.”

Pulp Fiction Creations
  • Blue Heron Mixed Media 17" Tall 10"x10" base $295.00
  • Blue Heron Mixed Media 17" Tall 10"x10" base $295.00
  • Blue Heron Mixed Media 17" Tall 10"x10" base $295.00
  • Bessie Paper Mache/Paper Clay/Acrylic $295.00
  • Bessie - Paper Mache/Paper Clay/Acrylic $295.00
  • Baby Sea Turtle 3 1/2" long Resin/Acrylic $25.00
  • Baby Sea Turtle
  • Baby Sea Turtle
  • Baby Sea Turtle 3 1/2" long Resin/Acrylic $25.00

You can view Sue’s other available work for sale in person at the Chapel Gallery in Delphi, Indiana

  • Relief Cut Print - The Contained Spirits Collection
  • Relief Cut Print - The Contained Spirits Collection

In The Studio | Featured Artist – Chaz Chiafos

26 Feb 2021

Chaz Chiafos & his Dragon, an ongoing project

I’ve been noticing something about several artistic people I’ve come in contact with lately. Many of them don’t think of their creative spaces as an “art studio.” Ellen works out of a one room “cottage” on her property and Jen has a “she-shed.” This months Featured Artist gave an interesting response about his space and it made me wonder if I was being presumptuous about calling my dedicated creative space a studio, so I looked it up. According to the dictionary a studio is defined as:

1a : the working place of a painter, sculptor, or photographer.

Chaz  Chiafos is one of two chainsaw artists, the other is Cody Ruemler, at “Indiana Carvings” which is located on Chaz’s property at 3213 E. Division Rd., Monticello, Indiana. For the past year I have driven past his place and observed the various carvings that he has created, in various stages, sitting out in the yard. Chaz happened to post on a local Facebook group about his business a couple of weeks ago and I contacted him right away for an interview. When I asked what day and time would work best to interview him and see his studio his response was “Stop by any time! I don’t have a studio; I work out of my barn.”

Indiana Carvings, Barn Entrance
Indiana Carvings Studio

When I arrived last week on a very snowy day I was greeted by Chaz’s snoopervisor, Tobor (robot spelled backwards and named by Chaz’s kids) who was hard at work assisting Chaz with wood chip clean-up!

Chad's Snoopervisor Tobor
Tobor a very sweet pup once you’ve been introduced!
Tobor & Wood
Tobor with wood chip

Chaz, bundled up in work Carhart’s, greeted me with a smile and a handshake and I knew in that moment he was a kindred soul! He is a self taught emerging chainsaw artist who was born and raised in Monticello, Indiana. Chaz has lived here his whole life. You may already know him through his landscaping business Hardscapes Unlimited Construction which is also on Instagram. It’s pretty common for emerging artists, myself included, to have other jobs to make ends meet. Add to that, the Coronavirus shut down many fairs and markets this past year and may put a damper on many this year as well.

Good Vibes Only

When Chaz was growing up one of his chores, which he enjoyed, was cutting and splitting wood. He says

“it’s a random coincidence… I can’t draw…. took art in high school and was terrible, but it turns out I have a knack for wood. I feel the flow of the saw and it just happens.”

Of course the one question every artist is asked is ” who or what got you started?” Chaz was initially inspired by Chris Trotter of Wooden Wonders about six or seven years ago when he was in Nashville, Brown County, Indiana. Chaz shared that he happened to see Chris creating a standing horse out of wood and said “I thought it was cool… neat… I never saw wood carved that way.” Today he follows other carvers on Facebook especially Chainsaw Carving World which is a collection of international cavers sharing their work online. What got Chaz started? His immediate response was: “Beer! One night I was sitting around the campfire with a buddy and saw a picture [on the phone] of an eagle. I decided to create one out of a 7 ½ foot silver maple log using a chainsaw. I seem to have a thing for eagles.”

Eagle carving made from 7.5′ log of silver maple

Chaz’s creative process involves gathering pictures of different features for the item to be created and combining them to make a blueprint to work from. Then he begins sawing on site for an in-place project or chooses a log based on the size needed and cuts the basic shape. Up to three different chain saw sizes are used on his carvings.

Using a printout of what he’s going to carve
3 sizes of chainsaws are used to carve
Beginning a carving
Marking areas to trim away with chainsaw
Wing 1
Wing 2

After Chaz completes everything but the fine details he will switch to a Dremel tool or grinder for that part of his work. He then sands the finished product and puts a finish on it.

Grinders & Dremel
Grinders & Dremel tools are used for finishing touches
Fine Details Front
Fine Details Back
Owl Trio – Finished Product

Fine Details of Owl Trio
A close up of the fine details found in Chaz’s carvings

Unlike many artists out there Chaz’s work does not represent things going on in our world today. A great deal of his art is based on animals. Chaz wants his clients “enjoy what they have asked him to create.” That is what’s important to him. Much of his work is as tall if not taller than he is!.

  • Chaz & Lion
  • Dragon
  • Owl 3
  • Dolphin
  • Eagle, Bears & Fox
  • Bench
  • Baby Yoda
  • Bear
  • Owl 2
  • Parrot
  • Totem Pole

When asked how he prices his work, he responded that “each carving is different so it depends on the size and the amount of detail that goes into it.” Another thing that factors into the final price is delivery of the carving when it is complete. Chaz is willing to hand deliver commissioned work on request anywhere within the U.S.A. for a fee.

About five hours after I left his studio, Chaz sent me a text with this video of what he started and completed in that time. To see more of his completed work you can find him on Indiana Carvings Facebook page. Also look for his group Indiana carvings under groups where you’ll see more of his work in progress videos