Monday, April 2, 2007
Recycling Dead Trees into Art
Buddha, 6 feet tall, fir tree that died of a beetle infestation carved for the Abayagiri Buddhist Center, Redwood Valley, CA
Quan Yin, 4 feet tall, catalpa wood, carved for the Sebastopol Zen Center, Sebastopol, CA
Kanzeon (Japanese Quan Yin), 9 feet tall, torrey pine, carved for the Zen Center of Los Angeles
Jizo, 7 feet tall, cedar, carved for the Zen Mountain Center, near Idyllwild, CA.
St. Bernard and his St. Bernard, 9 feet tall, fir, carved for the Hotel St. Bernard in Taos Ski Valley, NM
molding, 35 feet long, clear pine, created for an office in Taos, New Mexico
Angel corbels, 5 feet tall, alder, for fireplace in Thousand Oaks, CA
Angel mantel (with detail), 6 feet long, alder, for fireplace in Thousand Oaks, CA
Radha, 5 feet tall, for Meditation Center in Sacramento, CA
Guardian Angels, 9 feet tall,sycamore, 4 guardian angels were carved for an attorney's property in Amherst, OH.
Guardian Angel, 9 feet tall,sycamore, carved for a friend of the attorney who commissioned the other four.
Shrine to the Rainforest, carving is 4 feet tall X 16 feet long, beech tree, carved for the Avondale Forest Park in Rathdrum, County Wicklow, Ireland. I was the first wood carver. I wrote the Irish Forestry Council a letter asking if they had any dead trees they would like to have recycled into art - all I asked was room and board for the duration and they invited me over. They have since had many woodcarvers and I had student who spent a semester in Ireland tell me that she had seen this sculpture in television commercials (with people running over the top of it). Cool. One the left the man represents things manufactured from trees, in the center in a Celtic design with names of things we received from trees (oxygen, medecine, food, lumber, etc.), and on the right is the goddess Tara kneeling next to a basket of fruit, representing the natural things we received from trees. This was my second large carving project (after the TreePeople Park), and I ended up doing it all with a one inch chisel and mallet - it took me two months.
Dryad, 12 feet tall, oak, carved for the Treepeople Park, Beverly Hills, CA. This was my first large carving. Dryads are tree nymphs that are born full grown from ancient dying oak trees. They represent Mother Nature's continuing cycle of death and rebirth.
Carol's Girl, 3 feet tall, catalpa, Private collection.
Angels, 3 feet tall, pine and catalpa. Private collections.
Girl with an attitude, 3 feet tall, fir, Grailville, Loveland, OH. The wheelbarrow was filled with every piece that had been cut off of her.
I wanted to see if I could capture the essence of love in the next three carvings - I was living in Loveland, OH so it seemed appropriate. The Kiss, 6 feet tall, catalpa wood. In private collection.
The Kiss #2, 3 feet tall, catalpa wood. In private collection
The Kiss #3. 3 feet tall, catalpa wood. I eventually finished it but forgot to photograph it when it was done, but this still gives you an idea of what it became and it was one of my favorites.
The Awakening, 2 1/2 feet tall, willow, part of a performance and installation piece consisting of ten life-size carved goddesses standing in a large circle in a park where we held a ritual with 35 people on a full moon on Halloween Eve at Oberlin College, OH.
Fortuna, 6 feet tall, maple, part of the goddess circle
Ida, 5 feet tall, hollow maple, part of the goddess circle
Kundalini, 3 feet tall, willow, part of the goddess circle
Mary, 6 feet tall, maple, part of the goddess circle
Klio, 2 feet tall, oak, part of the goddess circle, Klio is the Greek muse of history; she is the one who determines not only IF you will be remembered, but HOW you will be remembered.
My deck is now filling up with naked ladies. This first one is 5 feet tall, a fir tree that had died of a beetle infestation. Her hands are in the mudra symbolizing the goddess. Front and side views. My goal is to photograph a crowd of them standing together. They are all different heights depending on the logs I find and already they project (or I project) an energy I can feel when I'm near them. They should be ready to photograph in a few weeks and I'll post it here.
Angel Chair, 5 feet tall, upholstered hollow maple, part of the goddess circle. The rear of the chair is detailed carving of the feathers on the wings.
18 lips, 3" square, pine, a practice exercise - recycled into elements in my shrines.
Barry's Chair, 3 feet tall, hollow maple, the second hollow log chair and my favorite because of size and comfort. Private collection
Fran's Stool, 2 feet tall, hollow black walnut. Private collection.
Earth Mother, 18 inches tall, pine & beads.
Eve, 18 inches tall, poplar and ivy.
Oya, 18 inches tall, poplar, black walnut wings, semi-precisous stone and glass beads cover the back.
Rear View, 6 feet tall, black walnut - I only had to help mother nature a little bit on this one. At Grailville.
Wizard, 6 feet tall, fir tree, Redwood Valley, CA.
Earthspirits, 5 feet tall, old black locust fence posts, Bainbridge, OH.
Stone earthspirit, life-size, one of 8 carved on a stone path in a park in Cleveland. Some could only be seen going up, others going down.
Earthspirit, life-size, one of 12 carved on dead trees along a hiking trail, Grailville, Loveland, OH. My goal was to startle people, if they accidently found them.
Earthspirit, 9 feet tall, cedar, a freestanding earthspirit with 4 legs. From a dead tree behind my house. Now it decorates the front room of a vegetarian restuarant (The Vegehead)in Loveland, OH.
Earthspirit, 7 feet tall, freestanding three-legged earthspirit. After the frustration of trying to find suitable (dead) trees to carve in the woods I began dreaming of a portable earthspirit. A storm delivered a neighbor's dead tree into my yard and my prayers were answered. It became several earthspirits.
Golfer, 3 feet tall, pine, purchased by a golf course owner.
Leprachon, 4 feet tall, maple, private commission in Cleveland, OH.
Big Bear, 10 feet tall, pine tree. Cleveland, OH.
Horses, 4 feet tall, fir, commissioned for a house in Redwood Valley, CA.
Sharpei, 3 feet tall, cedar, Oberlin, OH, private commission - people are always asking me to carve their dogs and I think they are fun to do and a challenge - here are a few.
Daschund, 3 feet tall, pine, Oberlin, OH, private commission.
Hound Dog, 3 feet tall, pine, Cincinnati, OH
Cougar, 2 feet tall, fir - Carved for a sign company in Idyllwild, CA
In 2004 I moved to Loveland, Ohio to be artist in residence for Grailville, a women's retreat center, where I've been recycling dead trees into art that can be found scattered around their grounds. While there, I took my portfolio around to several parks and although park officials were interested they all said that they had no extra funds to hire me.
But, several weeks after I showed my portfolio to the director of Glenwood Gardens, he asked me to come out to the park. A big old tree had come down in a windstorm and they wanted to know if there was anything I could do with it.
I was a bit overwhelmed at the size of the project. A massively huge pin oak, hollow at the bottom, had been blown down taking out two large hackberry trees with it. The base of the pin oak was more than 6 feet in diameter and it had been at least 70 to 80 feet tall. The two hackberry trees, joined at the base, were only 18 inches in diameter and had been around 60 feet tall. The trees had been standing at the edge of a children's park called Highfield Discovery Garden, which had just opened the previous July. Now, a big gaping wound let in sunlight where shade had prevailed.
I spent the weekend thinking about what I would do to recycle these trees into art for the park and Sunday evening e-mailed my proposal to Bob. Monday afternoon I received a call; they loved my ideas and were going to find the money needed to go ahead with the project.
Because the oak was so large and mostly hollow, I decided to carve murals on two fifteen-foot long, four-foot high pieces. One was carved with a lucky Chinese dragon and the other has a scene with a doe, fawn, raccoon and possum. The ten-foot tall base of the tree was turned upside down to be carved into an elf house with door, windows and a mountain lion running across the roots.
The crotch of the oak was set on the ground and I carved large feet for it so it's now a troll buried up to its waist, with only its legs and feet sticking out. One thinner branch of the oak has become the long neck and head of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster; a curved branch of the oak has become Nessie's hump. A thick slab from the pin oak sits above in the park to show that it was around 300 years old when it came down. A lump on it has been carved into a bear's head. Two large hollow gnarly pieces will be moved up to the park to be made into planters.
The hackberry trees have been turned into two nine-foot tall totem poles with animals that can be recognized so that the naturalists can use them as teaching tools, two ten-foot tall wizards (male and female), an elf, a squirrel, the feet of the troll, and various small animals. I discovered that if I could cut the branches even to be legs, turn it upside down and carve a head on top to make an earthspirit.
It's now called the Wizard's Garden.