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From Struggle Comes Beauty

November 13, 2011

Recently I’ve come to a ghoulish realization after selling one of my favorite pieces.
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It was made with some particularly twisted twigs. One leg looked like the trap pipe under a sink (down, then “J” shaped, then down again.) Since selling it, I’ve been on the lookout for similarly shaped or otherwise oddly shaped twigs. And while searching recently I came to my realization. That is that many of my more popular pieces are by-products of the brutal life and death struggle that goes on in the woods every day.Trees that get all the light, space, and water they need are beautiful, straight, perfectly formed, and a bit boring.But when trees complete, things get exciting. One tree sends out a branch, the saplings below its canopy begin to twist and turn toward the sunlight. Vines yearn for that same sunlight and send their tendrils twining up the saplings. The tendrils thicken and the saplings struggle to survive the strangling vine’s smothering embrace. The result is the lovely spirals I then collect for furniture decoration.

The table leg I liked so much resulted when a tree fell on a sapling, pinning its branches down but not killing it. The live branches made a U turn and continued their struggle toward the sun.
My work is not great art, I strive for competent craftsmen, but sometimes the woods bring great art to mind. A tree growing in the open is like Greek art and architecture, all balance, Platonic shapes, and golden ratios. Struggling trees are like the art of the Romans – wrestlers, gladiators, the Colosseum. The perfect tree is like Bach, The gnarled tree is like Beethoven. And I wander the woods oblivious to the battle for survival going on around me, and chop up the winners and losers alike and hope my work does them honor.

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