Photo by Christi Covington
Musician’s carvings attract the curious to Manchaca
Doug Moreland is fond of using a chainsaw to carve western art.
He has always liked creating. It was certainly a part of his childhood.
“What are you doing inside?” he remembered his parents fussing. “Get outside and build something. No watching television if the sun is up.”
So, true to their teaching, he built Cattlelacs Chainsaw Art Gallery in 2003 out of scrap materials on his grandparents’ property where his dad grew up. Their family has been in the area since the early days of Driftwood, but Moreland actually spent his childhood in Fort Davis in the 1970s and 1980s making things and playing on his fiddle.
As an adult, he had a band in Nashville, Tenn., and it was while on tour that he found the craft that would help support his music-loving ventures.
Moreland was traveling with his band in Ruidoso, N.M., in 1998 when he saw some friends who told him they carved bears with a chainsaw and were making pretty good money.
“It was like a light bulb going off,” he said. “Holy cow, I could do that. [The chainsaw] was a big knife.”
Sure enough, before he even finished his first bear, it sold for $50.
“Let me carve another one,” he told his friend. Again, it sold immediately.
He wanted to begin a third bear, but his friend told him to go get his own chainsaw and not to set up shop nearby. Moreland went back to his band.
“We canceled all our gigs, and we all bought chainsaws,” he said.
The band went back to Tennessee and carved in Gatlinburg for a year. He wanted to write music, so he came to play where he felt someone would care, and that was Austin.
Music could not provide his sole means of income, so he set up the chainsaw art gallery off of FM 1626 in Manchaca.
On Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., he hosts an open-to-the-public songwriters’ night and potluck.
He said the location on Austin’s southern limits away from major highways is not ideal for business, but he still draws customers.
Sometimes children and their parents stop just to look at the outdoor display of cowboys, faces in trees and birds because they think it looks a bit like Disneyland, Moreland said.
They would not be too far off.Since 2010, his shop has showcased the work of R.L. Blair, who has completed more than 500 pieces for The Walt Disney Co.
“In the chainsaw world, [Blair] is considered one of the best there is in the world,” Moreland said. “My carving has definitely improved tenfold just from being around him.”
- Native American chiefs
- Various animals
- Space aliens
Cattlelacs, 12301 Lowden Lane, Manchaca, 280-1530, www.cattlelacs.com