Juha Käkelä

Ylöjärvi (1967)

Juha Rikhard Käkelä is the leading figure in chainsaw carving in Pirkanmaa. His chainsaw has created around two thousand works of art, and he turns blocks of wood into a variety of animals and vivid human figures from different cultures. Käkelä started chainsaw carving as if by accident about twenty years ago. He explains that he meant to build a smoke sauna, but the first log turned out to be a goose, and a bear followed, and then there was no going back.

He says that all tree species in Finland are suitable for carving, and he will never run out of material. His friends and neighbours bring him logs that are too big for sawmills. Of course, a particular tree species and its weather resistance dictates the site for a sculpture. Larch and the common pine and spruce are the best for outdoor use, while tarring and burning improve the works’ longevity. Käkelä estimates that left on a lawn, a sculpture could survive perhaps twenty years, but protect it from the sun and the rain, and he will give it a 600-year guarantee.

Text: Minna Haveri. Images and video: Leena Peltokangas.

Juha Käkelä in Bear Festival in Ilomantsi, 2016. Photo Eero Knaapi.
Juha Käkelä in The Railway Station Square, Helsinki, 2017. Photo Raija Kallioinen.