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Water Valley artist makes many things with hands

His booth at the Abbeville Autumfest was filled with intricately carved pictures, cut from wood and then framed.

Some were scenes of nature and animals while others were Bible verses. A few were images of the University of Mississippi’s retired Colonel Rebel.

Water Valley native Tom Anderson, 42, has been selling his scroll saw work for more than 12 years.

The graduate of Water Valley High School recalls living a slow-paced, small-town life with family and friends in Water Valley.

After graduation, he began roofing houses. Today, he works at the University of Mississippi in general maintenance, where he does roofing and sheet metal work.

Anderson also does roofing and builds sheds on the side.

“When me and my wife, Stephanie, got married, I already had a scroll saw, just a cheap one,” he said. “We kind of wanted something to do as a hobby, something different, to maybe go out and do shows like this.”

Anderson started with simple projects.

“As time went, I found books and magazines, and now the Internet,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of different patterns and things I wanted to do — I have three or four tubs full of patterns.”

Anderson makes pictures and jewelry, but he said animal puzzles have been some of his best-selling items.

“When I put the pattern on the wood, I have to cut everything out,” he said. “There may be a little flaw in it somewhere, but a lot of people don’t see it.”

The work takes patience and steady hands, Anderson said.

“Everyone says you got to have patience,” he said.

Taylor native Stephanie Anderson, 40, said her husband is too modest to believe he’s an artist.

“A lot of people think he’s an artist,” she said. “He doesn’t think he is. I think he is. He doesn’t have enough confidence, I guess, in himself, but he is. I think it’s beautiful. He does beautiful work.”

Stephanie Anderson said each piece takes a lot of time to complete.

“He’s more of a perfectionist than he thinks he is,” he said.

She said he gave her a picture last Christmas with the word “family” scrolled across the bottom.

“That’s probably my favorite,” she said.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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