Wood carver works to expand presence at Lake Tahoe

Ashleigh Goodwin /
Bear Carvings by Tiny Bear Company.
Provided/Ricky Magiera

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, 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.

Magiera originals can be found in locations such as Tahoe Home Consignment in South Lake Tahoe, Robin’s Nest in Kings Beach, and Cabin Fever in Tahoe City. 

Bear Carvings by Tiny Bear Company
Provided/Ricky Magiera

The crafty carver got his start during a summer job with some chainsaw carvers. Magiera said he learned from simply watching his employers. During his time he would help to gather the 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 decided to set up his own tiny business and call it the Tiny Bear Company. Margiera 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, dragon, Mickey Mouse”

The last 5 years he has been working more on custom projects. The latest project completed is a 6ft 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. 

Draft of Totem pole being carved in Lake Almanor out of a hazardous tree.
Provided/Ricky Magiera

The current project, a totem pole of lucky animals, is expected to be complete from start to finish in just under two months time.

Totem pole underway in Lake Almanor
Provided/Ricky Magiera

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 in Lake Tahoe, eventually open a gallery to showcase his work,teach in person carving classes and ultimately move to the area within the next year.

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