Gaylord Couple Turns Dead Trees into Custom Sculptures

A Gaylord couple is using its woodworking skills to turn something old… Into something new.

Together they make about 250 wood carvings a year from trees that would otherwise be chopped down.

This couple — originally from the UP — is turning old dying trees into beautiful works of art.

“It’s unfortunate that the reason we’re finding all this work is because oak wilt and ash borer and certain diseases,” Woodworks Chainsaw Carving Co-Founder Jon Mykkanen said.

Diseases like oak wilt and ash borer are leaving their mark in Northern Michigan.

But Mykkanen and Marie Serafin have found a way to keep the trees around — and make a living.

“I’m more of the engineer and planner. Marie is more of the artist, and between the two of us we make a really good team.”

Mykannen and Serafin left behind a life of home building to turn stumps, large and small, into beautiful landmarks for people’s yards 37:20

“Once you get to the job, it’s not exactly what you thought. Because the tree might be rotten in the middle. You didn’t know that, you didn’t find out ‘til you got there, so you have to improvise and work around it,” Serafin said.

Serafin and Mykannen make a rough sketch before blocking out their carvings.

Anywhere from a few to 25 feet tall, the work can take a few days up to a week.

Ron Weisbarger wanted a sculpture of his family’s dogs.

“You look at it and you go – it’s never gonna happen. Then you watch as it refines over time and gradually comes into shape and you see the artist come out in them,” Weisbarger.

The labor costs anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, depending on the size and wood type.

Work that the couple fell into, but that’s resulting in unique art all over the state.

“But we’re able to keep a tree that was a landmark in somebody’s yard. It does for various reasons. Then we’re able to turn it into a piece of art and continue to keep it as a legacy.”

Mykannen and Serafin are looking at building a large elk to put along the side of I-75.