In early June, if you hear a chainsaw blaring at Matt Fissel’s house, he’s probably preparing for the Pumpkin Show. Matt, a Circleville resident, is the owner of Chippers Chainsaw Carvings. Chippers Carvings has made local fame with a booth at the Pumpkin Show selling wooden sculptures created by using only a chainsaw.
Long histories of agriculture lead Matt to where he is today. He is a 1994 graduate from The Ohio State University with a degree in agricultural science and followed that with a career in logistics and warehouse management. Following a divorce in a previous marriage, Matt began selling firewood as a side job to help make ends meet. At this point, he began to love working with a chainsaw and wood.
It wasn’t until he married his current wife Jeri in 2016, that he made his first sculpture. He decided to make his wife a wedding gift in the shape of a heart with “JERI–N–MATT” inscribed on the inside. For him it was a fun way to give his new wife a gift using a medium that best described him. “All problems seem to go away when I fire up a chainsaw,” Matt said in an interview with the Circleville Guide. “[The chainsaw] just feels like an extension of my arm.”
With the help from a little persuasion from his friends, Matt began making pumpkins, ears of corn and pig sculptures with his chainsaw. At the same time, he started connecting with other chainsaw artists throughout Ohio and Kentucky to get new and interesting carving ideas. He began filling custom orders and having been a resident of Circleville since 2004, Matt knew the Pumpkin Show would be an ideal place to sell his art. That idea proved to be a success.
Due to his immense success, Matt and his family opened Chippers in late 2016 which handled tree removal in addition to his carvings. Since a fairly recent knee injury, he has concentrated more on his sculpture business. This allows him to create upwards of 300 pieces per year. These pieces have consisted of everything from a ten-foot tall ear of corn to Brutus Buckeye.
It is at the Pumpkin Show where he does nearly 90 percent of his annual sales. In a process that takes him three to four months, he makes and sells around 200 wooden pumpkins per year. They retail for around $25 to $30 each. Other items he has available at the Pumpkin Show include benches, bears, eagles, corn and trees. He also receives dozens of custom orders. He has hopes to add pop culture themes such as Star Wars characters to his 2018 lineup.
His carvings have ranged from the $25 pumpkin to $1,000 for an intricate custom piece. Usually, Matt works with white pine and red cedar wood, but prefers the latter. Pieces can be painted or stained as well, but there is a high demand for the natural wood look.
Though Matt does travel for shows, he typically stays in Ohio and travels to events such as county fairs. He is able to be contacted at 740-497-3289 or found on Facebook. At the Pumpkin Show from Oct. 17-20, 2018, he will be in his normal spot on East Franklin Street, across from Circle Auto Parts.