Barba Brisiu: un chainsaw carver italiano - foto in evidenzaBarba Brisiu: an Italian chainsaw carver - photo highlights

Barba Brisiu: an Italian chainsaw carver

Published on January 15, 2024 – Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hello! Welcome to everyone! Today I want to tell you about a very special person in the Italian woodcarving scene. Yes you read that right, finally an Italian!!! A special carver as well! Let’s discover together the life and works of the master of chainsaw carving, Barba Brisiu!

By a series of fortunate coincidences, while writing the previous article, the gnome path: discovering the Maira Valley, I had the honor of being able to converse with him for a while, and I didn’t pass up the opportunity to write an article about it!

Now I will tell you a little about Master Barba Brisiu!

In 1971 a child with a great creative playful spirit was born in Cuneo, Piedmont, his name is Fabrizio Ciarma, playing with plasticine and clay he created his first characters, but he did not yet know that his destiny would cross with wood.

Growing up he studied and worked as a surveyor until his father’s illness led him to live and work in Liguria to become a blacksmith in the family business. Living far away from his beloved mountains of Piedmont make his life unbearable so, with the occasion of his marriage, he returns to his beloved land and takes up nature engineering work for a construction company.

One day, his mother, gives him a chainsaw to clean some of their woods near Borgo San Dalmazzo (Cn). After finishing the hard work, seeing a tree broken by the wind, the sleepy child awakens. Without study or drawing, Fabrizio carves his first chainsaw work: a gnome protector of the forest.

This is where Barba Brisiu‘s career begins!

I bet that in many non-Piedmontese, they will have trouble understanding the true meaning of name. In the Piedmontese dialect the “barba” or in some countries also called “borba” is the uncle. Brisiu is again a dialect inflection of the name Fabrizio=brizio=brisiu.

Thus the character is born, and with the typical long lumberjack beard, the game is done!

Barba Brisiu: an Italian chainsaw carver - instagram photo by Barba Brisiu

One of his guiding philosophies is to let out the child in each of us, without repressing it. As he carves, without a design or any preparation, he just lets his instincts flow and listens to what the wood requires of him.

That is why each time it is a new character, a new story. A new wonder born of wood with the amazement of those present seeing a sculpture come out of a plant and the joy for him, that he is once again a child again.

Discovering Italian-style chainsaw carving

When young Fabrizio started chainsaw carving, he did not know that this art, abroad, especially in Canada and America already existed and is called chainsaw carving. Here in Italy he is one of the few practicing it, along with Master Sirio Vierin from Aosta Valley (article here).

He did not go to any school of carving, perspective, drawing. And although he regrets it a little today, he is happy to know that what comes out of the wood every time comes all from his heart and the skill he himself has improved day by day.

The particular use of the chainsaw

To be able to carve with a chainsaw really requires an open mind, away from both logic and tradition. Watching him work, one can immediately see that he uses the chainsaw in a way that is opposite to the rules of common sense, tradition, and safety.

He almost never uses the weight of the machine. He hardly makes straight cuts. Almost all the work is done at the tip of the blade is this is the easiest way to make the chainsaw run out of your hands when it meets the wood. It is really dangerous if you do not have experience and skill.

Even so, he is there sketching, establishing proportions, with a confidence and dexterity that makes you think the machinery in his hand has no weight.

To define details such as beards or animal hair, use a slightly smaller chainsaw with a particular blade that looks like it is made into a point. This is the carving blade, specifically for precision work done precisely at the point of a blade!

Barba Brisiu: un chainsaw carver italiano - differenza tra motosega tradizionale e motosega da carving
Chainsaw difference detail
Discovering Barba Brisiu’s workshop from the YouTube channel: Barba Brisiu Official

The smallest details are done by gouge, chisel, knife, whatever is needed to get the job done, which is 95% done by the chainsaw anyway. This carving process makes the work much faster than normal carving, in fact our Barba Brisiu can finish a carving even in one day’s work.

Working while remaining children forever

Since 2016 he decided to make his art and inspiration a real job. To this day he is completely dedicated to sculpture.

In his workshop in Robilante (Cn), in the Vermenagna Valley, he prepares many of the sculptures that are commissioned. But as a lover and lover of his work, he always wants to know where they will be placed. This helps him get inspiration on the subject and give the sculpture a story.

The desire to remain a child pushed him to go against the grain, to throw himself headlong into things without thinking too much. The adult full of fears evaluates and then lets problems decide. The child simply acts, and solves problems with spontaneity.

And that is what he does every day, with every challenge, with every carving. What he has taught his three daughters, to whom he has passed on his passion for nature and carving. He lives at an altitude of 1000 meters, between the Stura and Gesso Valleys, in a small mountain village in contact with nature and the wild animals from which he takes inspiration.

His favorite carving subjects include gnomes, of course, but also bears and buzzards. The latter in particular are for him a symbol of freedom and of his loved ones who follow him from beyond. The bear, on the other hand, due to the fact that he feels he is a man of the mountains, but still poised between modernity and tradition.

Barba Brisiu: an Italian chainsaw carver - Photo of Barba Brisiu with bear of his own creation - from his Instagram profile
Photo of Barba Brisiu with bear of his own creation – from his Instagram profile

This is in a nutshell Barba Brisiu, the ever-child artist with a heart as big as his mountains. Could I pass up the opportunity to tell you about a wonder maker like him!

Barba Brisiu: an Italian chainsaw carver - Barba Brisiu logo

I am delighted to have inaugurated this new category of Woodcarvers by him of all people, a chainsaw carver from my area who deserves to be famous!

I hope someday you have a chance to come and visit his wooden statues, which are more numerous every day. Bye I look forward to seeing you next month! Don’t miss that if I can I will already come out with the Easter tutorial!!! 🐣 😄😘😘

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