Fircrest native adds twist to city’s chain saw sculpture collection

Staff writerJuly 6, 2014 

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When it came time to chop down the giant fir in her front yard, Jillian Foss decided to depart from the usual Fircrest norm for a chainsaw sculpture. "Everybody does bears," Foss said. "I didn't want to do bears." She opted for the Three Little Pigs, which she's named Feenie, left, Weenie and Eenie. Her dog, a Shih Tzu named Oliver, doesn't seem sold on the idea.

DREW PERINE — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Even before Jillian Foss knew she’d buy the house on Electron Way in Fircrest, she saw its trio of front-yard trees as an opportunity to bring three famous characters to life.

They’ve lived in houses of straw, sticks and brick but now the Three Little Pigs reside as chain saw sculptures on the lawn of Foss’ home. They stand 4 feet tall, each holding the building material it is famous for.

Foss, a 26-year-old Fircrest native, has lovingly named them Feenie, Eenie and Weenie.

Even though she grew up among Fircrest’s many chain saw sculptures – her parents’ house is just a stone’s throw away from where she lives now – it was never a goal of hers to have her own.

“I’m a bit of a more environmentally concerned person. So I didn’t want to just cut the trees down,” she said.

However, in December a hefty limb snapped off one of the trees. With the trees so close to her house, Foss decided the best option was to turn them into a work of art.

She called a tree service to cut them down and saved just enough to carve the storybook characters.

Foss, who works in program development with AmeriCorps VISTA, then asked a talented co-worker to draw a mock-up of what Foss wanted the pigs to look like, she said.

The original design had the pigs dressed in top hats, button down vests and trouser pants. However, the clothing idea was nixed. Foss wanted a more natural look with their quirky, open-mouthed smiles as a twist, she said.

Foss hired Joaquin Quezada from Creative Wood Sculptures in Enumclaw to do the work. Quezada came to her home in mid-April equipped with 10 different chainsaws, she said.

Pig-like features began to emerge before Foss left for work. By the time she returned, three curly-tailed hogs greeted her.

They now are among the roughly 30 chain saw sculptures that dot Fircrest, according to local lore.

No one seems to know exactly how the community’s fascination with chainsaw sculptures got its start. Blake Surina, who is known as the town historian, said he believes that sculptures became one way to deal with the area’s abundance of trees. When a tree grew to an unmanageable size or was unwanted, residents would carve it – usually into the form of a bear — as an act of partial preservation.

Fircrest Mayor Dave Viafore said the locals have fun with the tradition, outfitting their sculptures in seasonal attire. During Halloween, bears are dressed as Dracula and ghosts. Come fishing season, they’ll have their poles out.

“It’s a conversation piece,” Viafore said. “We always say we’re the jewel of Pierce County. We always try to be different.”

Foss said she wanted to stand apart from the usual sculptures.

“Everyone does bears in Fircrest and I didn’t want to do what everyone else did,” Foss said.

To celebrate the birth of her new friends, Foss threw a pig-themed party complete with bacon-wrapped smokies, hot dogs and a bacon broccoli salad named “pigs in a forest.”

“I love people walking by and slowing down in their cars,” she said. “They just stare at my pigs.”

After paying $1,800 to have the pigs carved, she diligently takes care of them by painting log oil onto the sculptures to preserve the wood.

The only thing missing now is the Big Bad Wolf.

“I hope one of the neighbors gets a wolf and someone else gets a Goldilocks,” she said. “Everyone could get different characters, and I wouldn’t put it past Fircrest to change the street name to Fairytale Lane.”

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