Monday, March 01, 2010





Tree of Life-"Courageously Taking Root"-Completed!

About 4 months ago, Lisa Smith and Brenda Boylan met with me about doing a copper project for their school auction at Valley Catholic School. Although we talked through many different ideas, including a wreath, Lisa had a tree in mind and showed pictures of iron trees that she'd found on the web, representing the Tree of Life. I suggested the children could put words and textures on the copper leaves. Brenda did a small sketch of a tree with 29 leaves, beads and wire. I explained how I envisioned the tree to be more sculptural by incorporating copper tubing along with the leaves, wire and beads.

The tree sprang to life.

I ordered the copper and cut it down to squares, then Lisa and Brenda cut out the birch shaped leaves. I visited the class and worked with the children to do the repousse work, writing the words into the copper. After they cleaned the copper leaves, I did the patina on each and every leaf. I painted a chemical patina into each of the children's hand written words and colored them with a heat patina. I did heat patina on the textured leaves. Then, with the help of my husband, Michael, we soldered and wired and beaded each of 45 leaves onto the many branches of the copper tree I made in my studio.



Although I had their input and reference materials, the tree took on a life of its own as I worked on it in my studio. I made several sketches of my vision of the tree as I worked out the size of the trunk, limbs and branches. Then I made a working drawing of the tree in the original dimensions of 2x3 feet. The finished tree is almost 4x4 feet.

Once the drawings were done, I went to work constructing the trunk and branches of the tree to be sturdy and beautiful. As I twisted and turned the copper, I realized that the trunk I was making for the tree was, well, a lot like life. Life spirals up and out in many different and unexpected directions. It branches out growing stronger as time goes on, yet even the oldest and strongest branches can sprout new tender shoots and leaves at any time. The three spiral roots link together, just as our bodies, hearts and souls entwine in our lives.



The Tree of Life is an age-old symbol that appears throughout history in many cultures around the world. Different cultures use different types of trees ash, yew, oak trees to magical trees made from dragons. It symbolizes birth, death and knowledge. In some cultures it represents a variety of pagan gods. In Christianity, it is used to represent Jesus Christ.


This tree of life project entitled, ‘Courageously Taking Root’ has birch shaped leaves and, in some cultures, the birch tree is a symbol of rebirth and new life. What a wonderful symbol for young children and a beautiful way to raise money to build a new school. I couldn't think of a better symbol for young children and even some of us who aren't so young anymore. That no matter what your age, you are always able to grow.

Lisa wrote this about the project for the auction catalog, entitled, "COURAGEOUSLY TAKING ROOT". "Nature holds up a mirror so we can see more clearly the ongoing processes of growth, renewal, and transformation in our lives. This will be portrayed using a birch tree which has symbolic meaning both for our children and for the Valley Catholic community as we move towards building our new school together. The tree of life is approximately 3x4 ft done in copper. It can be hung inside or outside and has a built in hook on the back. The children have chosen words of inspirational and beautifully engraved their words on the leaves. This piece would look amazing inside or out and will have gone through a "patina processing" embellished with various "jewels" that have been added through out the sculpture. Beware and be ready as you will want this for your your home, office or special place."

4 comments:

goldenbird said...

The tree of life sculpture is such a wonderful idea. I love that the children contributed to it. I hope it brings in lots of money for the school at the auction.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

I agree. It's such a wonderful idea especially because of the children's contributions.

It was such a great project to work on!
Susan

Susan J Tweit said...

Beautiful piece, beautiful and wise post. Your idea of including the children's words is just brilliant, and something you could use in other ways through your workshops and other teaching opportunities. I'm assuming you'll have photos of this piece in your portfolio. And that reminds me, have you thought of video taping projects like this and editing it down into five minutes or so for youTube? This would be a natural there!

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Susan,
Thank you so much!!
Everytime, I picked up a leaf with one of the children's words, it felt like I was entrusted with their wishes for the world.

I am hoping to take this idea to more schools as well as other places in the community. I think it is a natural community project.

Video taping it ...what a great idea! Now I just have to get a video camera!

Thanks again, Susan!
Susan