Dayton Scoggins loves to carve animals that show fluid movement such as these otters
This article originally ran in South Mississippi Scene Magazine and is reprinted with permission.
Artistry in Wood Story by Jamie O'Quinn Photos by Jamie O'Quinn and Michelle Scoggins
Sculptures and hospitality come out of the woodwork at the home of Dayton and Michelle Scoggins in Sandersville, Mississippi. Nestled amongst 250+ acres of timberland, the award winning master carver husband and saw helper wife duo of "Artistry in Wood" carved out a career in chainsaw art 5 1/2 years ago after meeting at their prior jobs on the River Barge Explorer. Having worked on towboats since the age of 17, Dayton was the towboat captain when he and Michelle, a barge mate, met and married.
When off the river, Dayton enjoyed whittling, a passion he attributes to his childhood in Greene County. He explains "My dad had carved several axes before I was born. I was always intrigued by them and tried to make some myself." While in the pilot house of the boat one day, Michelle came across an article on chainsaw art in a hand carving magazine. "I looked at Dayton and said 'You can do that'. He discussed all the specialty tools he would need such as carving bars and special-sized saws, so with Father's Day coming up, that's what I got him." With new tools in hand and home off the boat, Dayton whipped out a squirrel, flying eagle, and a bear. "See, you can do that" was all Michelle had to respond. It wasn't long until the low water level on the Missouri River forced the nautical couple to be laid off for a month. Dayton spent the entire time carving and practicing. They were hooked. Michelle states "We decided to quit our jobs on the river." She adds with a chuckle "They were really upset with me because I took the best captain and turned him into a chainsaw artist."
Looking for a place to network and learn more about the chainsaw art business, the couple attended the Ridgway Chainsaw Rendezvous in Pennsylvania. They sold their first piece and met professional chainsaw carvers who took them under their wings........