Tiny Bears Company works to expand presence in Truckee-Tahoe
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Ricky Magiera, originally from the Los Angeles area, supplies 27 retailers with a variety of wood carvings, all carved with a steady hand wielding a chainsaw.
His carvings are not only found in Lake Tahoe but can also be found in Lake Almanor, Colorado, Southern California, and the RedWoods.
The crafty carver got his start during a summer job with some other chainsaw carvers. Magiera said he learned from simply watching his employers. During his time he would help to gather the wood pieces used. The team would start with getting proper permits to allow them to go into burned areas to reclaim wood within. The team would then harvest cedar, carve the bears and then take the finished products to wholesalers around the west coast.
Margeria told the Tribune, “We’d fill the single cab flatbed chevy truck up and drive it around to sell them all. Then we’d go back to the forest and do it all over again.”
Since 2013 this has been Magiera’s full time job as owner and operator of the Tiny Bear Company. For the designs, Mageria either uses online or realistic references. For the larger projects he works with an artist based in Reno, Shari Bainter.
The Lake Almanor resident said he started with carving bears primarily until he began getting custom requests.
“I would set up on the side of the road and people would ask me to carve a bunch of things, a dragon, Mickey Mouse,” he said.
The last five years he has been working more on custom projects. The latest project completed is a 6-foot lady and the tramp carving for a client in Truckee for a 40-year wedding anniversary gift. The gift was not only a celebration of their life together but to celebrate life in general after a trying time with health concerns.
The carvings are typically cut from one single piece; sometimes stumps or standing trees and end up in a creative composition rendered from references found online or in nature.
A tree, which became a hazard in Lake Almanor, became the base of Magiera’s current project when the property owner approached Magiera at one of his roadside pop up shops to convert the tree into a piece of art.
The current project, a totem pole of lucky animals, is expected to be complete from start to finish in just under two months time.
At the end of October Magiera will be traveling to Tahoe Donner to carve a bear and a raccoon out of a 10-foot stump. He also has started communications with the county and city officials to locate carvings around the basin he could potentially help to revitalize. Ultimately he wants “to make them brand new all around the lake” and help the art stand out whereas so many are currently faded.
Magiera told the Tribune he has been working frequently in the Lake Tahoe Basin and hopes to develop a consistent clientele and eventually open a gallery to showcase his work, teach in person carving classes and ultimately move to the area.
Ashleigh Goodwin is a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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